Beginner training for LEJoG

leesheppard0492 Posts: 6
edited January 2014 in Road beginners
Hello all!

As a New Years Resolution (yeah, i'm that guy! :D), I have set myself a task of cycling from Lands End to John O'Groats. It has been a thing I have always wanted to do, so why not crack on with it!

I am looking for any advice that anyone can give me on training/nutrition prior to event/bikes.

I haven't been on bike for quite some time, and even back then it was on mountain bikes doing trails.

My level of fitness is quite good (gym 2/4 times a week - cardio included and a strong will to complete) but nothing compares to the distance I plan of travelling.

I would like to aim for September (is 9 months long enough for such event?) so is there any advice that anyone with more experience can give me for event?

All comments are appreciated. Apart from hate, that's not cool...


  • BobScarle
    BobScarle Posts: 282
    is 9 months long enough for such event?

    Yes, it is. But the first thing you must do is get on a bike! If you have not been on a bike for "quite some time" you need to get out and do some riding.

    LEJOG is about 1000 miles, give or take, depending on your route. How long are you planning to take? Are you alone or with a group? Are you supported or not?
  • cougie
    cougie Posts: 22,512
    If you're doing it non stop - then no - its not long enough.

    If you're spreading it over 2 weeks and taking minimal kit - then yes that should be enough.

    Check out the LeJog websites - route choice is important - I'd not be on some of those nasty dual carriageways.

    Do you have a bike ?
  • I will be getting a bike in early feb but until then its the gym bikes (not the same I know). Don't get me wrong, I am itching to get out there!

    I would do it through a charity organization so I will be supported. There are two I have focused on, one says 9 days, the other 12.
  • If you haven't been on a bike for some time then you need to start now. Even if you consider yourself fit, you don't have cycling fitness so you'll struggle at first, but you should progress faster than someone starting from nothing.

    1,000 miles in 14 days is ~71 miles per day. So I would look at building up your fitness so you can start doing 60 mile day rides on a regular basis before you even think about planning a LeJog.

    Edit: Why wait until Feb? Get a bike now; today; get out there, the weather is nice.
  • Yeah I understand about not having any 'cycle fitness' but in the mean time I am working on all round cardio
    when you say "a regular basis", would you consider 3/4 times a week to be regular?
    I would go to the shop now if I had the money spare for it, Christmas put a mighty fine dent in the wallet!
  • Yeah I understand about not having any 'cycle fitness' but in the mean time I am working on all round cardio
    when you say "a regular basis", would you consider 3/4 times a week to be regular?

    To do a 60ish mile ride? I don't think you need to be doing it 3/4 times a week just now, work up to being able to do it once a week, with shorter rides through the week.

    Once you've got the once a week thing nailed try doing it two days in a row and go from there.
  • pdstsp
    pdstsp Posts: 1,264
    Personally I would look at the 12 day option - around 75 miles a day. However you do have all day so you do not have to cycle fast, just for a long time day after day so you need to build up to doing just that. Long steady rides and lots of them, and aim at a couple of weekends where you do back to back rides of similar length, and then just go for it. I did mine a couple of years ago and the one big lesson I learnt was that you can get away with not eating/drinking properly for a day or so but it does catch up with you after a few days. I find now that on any long ride I will have a "low" two or three days in and, once through that, will feel fantastic.

    Enjoy - the training will be fun and the ride is a great experience.

  • ForumNewbie
    ForumNewbie Posts: 1,664
    Hi there, have you considered what type of bike you want for LEJOG? For that distance each day I would say look for comfort and reliability rather than a pure road racer. I would say consider an audax or sportive bike with more relaxed riding position and mudguards.
  • thegibdog
    thegibdog Posts: 2,106
    I concur. Training is as simple as increasing your ride distance over time and then increasing the frequency. Bike wise you want something you can be comfortable on all day.
  • tlw1
    tlw1 Posts: 21,866
    I recently did it in 7 days (though the other way round) - whilst I'm a keen cyclist with a decent base level of fitness, I found the best training was commuting a couple of times a week (70 miles per day for me). This maximised training without too much time away from the family
  • I would imagine combining training with work and family life would be practically impossible; considering the only real training for long days in the saddle is long days in the saddle!
  • milleman
    milleman Posts: 181
    Just signed up to do it myself this year, organised trip over 14 days. Like you its something that I have wanted to do since I started cycling 4 or 5 years ago, looking forward to it!
  • tlw1
    tlw1 Posts: 21,866
    I would imagine combining training with work and family life would be practically impossible; considering the only real training for long days in the saddle is long days in the saddle!

    commuting and early starts at the w.end worked for me
  • secretsam
    secretsam Posts: 5,098
    Bike wise you can do it on pretty much anything, mate did it on his road bike in 14 days, I bought a s/h Spesh Sirrus that had been used to do it (!). Think about what you'll want the bike for once LeJog is done - the Sirrus I had was sold straight after, literally with just the end to end miles on it. Seems daft to me to buy a bike just for one event.

    Remember: a bike is for life, or at least until you decide to get a better one!

    It's just a hill. Get over it.
  • Southgate
    Southgate Posts: 246
    Hi Lee

    After almost 15 years off the bike with what I wrongly thought was a permanent knee injury, I got back into cycling three or four years ago. Like you, I have a gym background and although I used to cycle, I was really just a "fast commuter" who thought grinding a big gear for 15 miles was a long ride. I was also clueless about nutrition.

    So you can imagine my relief when I (Mr Front Cover of Men's Health :lol: ) rocked up for my first club ride and saw a bunch of MAMILS (middle aged men in lycra), some with rather large waistlines. But guess what? Fat or not, they kicked my arse all over Hertfordshire!! And it took me a good week to recover (my body and my ego :wink: ).

    I quickly learned that the gym will only get you so far in cycling (maybe as far as the cafe stop, but not back home :wink: ), because it's a different type of fitness which doesn't translate into an endurance base. In fact in some ways the gym can be a disadvantage as you are carrying all that extra upper body muscle mass, and if you're fatigued from working out before you even get on the bike you're obviously not off to the best start. Where gym work can be useful (please guys, let's not reopen the 'should cyclists lift weights?' debate here!) is in strengthening the core and lower back, particularly if you're an older cyclist (or "veteran" as they like to call us). But do too much, and you risk undermining your endurance base, or in your case not developing it in time for your challenge.

    My tuppence worth is:

    1. Until you've completed LEJoG, cut right back on the gym and focus on the bike

    2. Make a weekly / monthly plan for cycle training, gradually upping the mileage at a rate of around 10% a week. Go too hard and long before your body has adapted to the stress and you risk injury (even a minor knee problem could derail your training for a month and force you to pull out)

    3. As soon as you are able, begin doing long rides, i.e. 50 miles+

    4. Build up to a century and get used to doing that distance on a regular basis, e.g. weekly by Spring/early Summer.

    5. Once you're comfortable with centuries, start stringing a couple together on consecutive days

    6. Read up on nutrition for endurance cycling and learn to eat and drink for the activity: before, during and after. After a while it becomes second nature and you learn to 'read' your body and avoid the dreaded bonk. A typical high-protein gym diet won't cut it, I'm afraid.

    7. Join a club. They will help you with all the above and much more, such as climbing, descending, spinning, sitting still when riding, basically you'll learn how to ride a bike! You'll also get support and encouragement, and unlike your friends, family and partner, they'll happily listen to you droning on about cycling without excommunicating you or issuing divorce proceedings.

    8. Good luck!! :D
    Superstition begins with pinning race number 13 upside down and it ends with the brutal slaughter of Mamils at the cake stop.
  • Hi Lee

    Like a few of the other posts, I completed a JoGLE this year in June over 9 days which was a fantastic experience, except for the awful weather (7 days of headwinds!).

    Just to stick my tuppence in if you are interested:

    1. This time last year I started training although I had done a limited amount of cycling previously. I built up the distances over early May I had committed to 4 weekends with 100 mile rides per weekend. My mileage was 1500 miles over the 6 months training.

    2. Following advice, I changed everything that I was doing in the gym and concentrated on core stability and plyometrics.....physically sitting on the bike for 1000 does some strange things and it made a big difference...every time I went out on the bike I felt stronger and stronger and ached less and less! Sitting on an exercise bike or spinning will only help the lungs and not much else. Once the basics routines are mastered, these exercises can be done at home too! A kettle bell and a foam roller for the sore quads would be a good investment!

    3. As somebody previously mentioned, nutrition is critical! If in doubt, spend a couple of quid and see a nutritionist!

    4. It sounds a bit of a cliché but you do get fitter as you go and you have to trust your body...if you feed it right, it won't let you down (provided you've trained of course!)

    My only regrets were the wrong bike....much too full on and I still have a numb thumb now from the vibration, not researching the route enough/investing in a sat-nav as we got terribly lost on one occasion and spent for too long on some horribly hairy dual carriageways (don't be scared of the A9 once you're past Perth, big road but very respectful freight in the main).

    Enjoy the bit in Scotland, what a fantastic place to ride and I loved every minute of it!

    Most importantly, be safe and savour every minute as it's a terrific experience!

    I hope some of this is helpful?

  • ForumNewbie
    ForumNewbie Posts: 1,664
    SecretSam wrote:
    Bike wise you can do it on pretty much anything, mate did it on his road bike in 14 days, I bought a s/h Spesh Sirrus that had been used to do it (!). Think about what you'll want the bike for once LeJog is done - the Sirrus I had was sold straight after, literally with just the end to end miles on it. Seems daft to me to buy a bike just for one event.

    Remember: a bike is for life, or at least until you decide to get a better one!
    I agree, but providing Lee gets a suitably comfortable bike for long distance riding it will serve him well for further long rides after LEJOG. If he gets a bike he is comfortable on I would think he is more likely to keep on cycling.

    I've got a Sirrus, but if I was doing LEJOG I would use my steel audax bike as its more comfortable over long distances.
  • As well as all the above look up LEJOG A Self Help Cycle Guide by Royston Wood - available on Amazon and Apple stores. Great and funny read and covers routes,training, nutrition etc.
    Note I have no interest to declare but really enjoyed the book and was inspired to do LEJOG just not this year for me due to other commitments!
    Good luck!
  • Thank you to all who have commented!

    My cousin who works in a bike shop has found a bike for me which is a good starting point for such an event and it is the Trek 1.1 ( ... _compact/# ) and says that it is a good 'all rounder' for a beginner as he started out with something similar and still uses it. and like people have stated, i dont want to break the bank on something that i may not want to pursue, so a good starting point.

    also, thanks to Southgate and Audiman1975 for your tuppence, i had a word with one of the gym instructors and he also said to focus on cardio, core, and plyo.

    I now have some sort of idea of a training schedule that i can put together without burning myself out! commuting to work is an idea but not sure if it is one i would do often as i start to sweat quickly and dont fancy the idea of turning up for work all sweaty but there is no harm in trying!

    I have also looked for local clubs and there are a few to choose from who ride regularly so there is a bonus!

    thanks for advice on the book too, i will be sure to give it a read :)
  • The Trek 1.1 is an ok starter bike - Make sure you get the 2014 model with Claris gearing and carbon fork, the 2013 model doesn't have anywhere near as nice a spec.

    I would also make sure you can have mudguards fitted to it, on a 2 week tour it's pretty much guaranteed to be raining some of the time!
  • Yeah, fortunately he had the 2013 and 2014 next to each other in the shop and explained all the differences. cant wait to get it and get out there :D
  • Welcome to the boards! :D

    You are going to need the following (amongst other things):
    A bike that fits.
    A saddle that is comfy (this does not mean padded!)
    A decent pair of bibshorts.
    As your mileage ups, if the bike does not fit, you will notice the smallest amount of discomfort that was not apparent on a 10 mile ride. When you do back to back days of 70/80/90+ miles, that discomfort will be all too ready to show itself.
    The Trek will be fine, as long as it is correct size. If you are in between sizes then it is probably better to go on the smaller size as this can be adjusted, much harder to make a big bike fit.
    Saddles can be harder to get right... Many people buy 10+ saddles and still are not happy (are they ever?) whilst some find the saddle that came with the bike to be fine.
    Bibshorts - get the shorts with the best pad that you can afford - this doesn't have to be too expensive. I used a pair of £50 Nalini on most of my JOGLE.

    As for training, you have plenty of time, so long as you build up gradually and persevere with it.
    Last year, before I did my JOGLE, I spent many an evening just spinning on the turbo training watching tv. I was not necessarily doing many miles on it, but getting used to spending hours a day on the bike. As the wife works many evenings, I had to look after the kids, so this was the only way during the week.
  • secretsam
    secretsam Posts: 5,098
    Giant Defy also a good bike for the ride, IIRC it takes guards? Or get into the sales and see if you can get a Steelie Genesis Equilibrium or similar - cracking bikes with good steel frames, could possibly be around the £1k mark

    Or go on the classifieds here, dig out something like a Roubaix (carbon framed long-distance road bike).

    Or a Ribble Steel training bike, should be able to get a decent spec under £1k.

    Or get Chas Roberts to build you an audax bike...oh, hang on, that might cost a bit too much!

    It's just a hill. Get over it.
  • ukmkh
    ukmkh Posts: 21
    As someone who did it in 2012, I was like a duck out of water.

    I had 'trained' from January to September using a mountain bike. I lost a few months between June and September as I had a fall an could not cycle. It also meant that I actually had not done more than 50 miles in a single sitting before we set out but by the time I started, I had covered 1000 miles (Thanks to Strava for counting)

    The biggest shock for me was the hills! Considering we were unsupported and lugging another 10-12Kg on our road bikes - it was a wake up call. On the first few days, me and my mate stopped many times but by day 7, hills were nothing! I could just grind my way up them.

    My tips:-
    1) Practice as much as you can. The more hills the better.

    2) Get a bike fit! I can't stress this enough. I was going to do it on my MTB but at the last moment, used our team leaders sons Roadbike. I was not setup properly, and 18 months later I still have a tingling sensation on pinky and ring finger on my right hand :( During the ride, I had numb nuts and my right hand was essentially useless after three days. Try changing gears up a hill with no motor control.

    3) When cycling, hydrate and hydrate a lot! On the first day, two of us, did not drink enough and at the first big hill we came across, we went down with cramps. It was about 3pm in the afternoon (we set out at 8am) and us two had not even finished 2 x 750ml of water (bcos we were not thirsty) Our 'leader' had already consumed 3 litres. After that experience, did we guzzle the liquids down and no cramps again!

    4) Good clothes are must.

    5) Try to incorporate a 'rest day'. For us it was our day 8, it was a leisurely, 45mile day ... but included the island of Arran :mrgreen:

    Our blog with the route, experiences and our list of cycle friendly B&Bs (they washed our clothes, etc) is still up if you want to read it. Read "Sarky' Wiggo's' posts for the daily breakdown, route-maps, etc. ... ster-plan/

    Good Luck!!

    MKH aka ChickenLegs!
    P.S. Can't believe that we never had to endure a puncture across the entire journey. The Schwalbe Durano's were excellent.
    P.P.S. My loan bike was the 'cheapest' bike of the three, yet it was the only one that did not need a mechanical tuneup along the way so take from that what you will - though it broke me due to bad bike fit.
  • BillyImp
    BillyImp Posts: 130
    I've done it both ways, first time at the age of 16 when me and a mate decided in early January that we'd do it like you with no previous cycling experience, we set off on the 1st July and the furthest we'd ever ridden in training was 55 miles. I was on a £250 Halfords road bike and he was on a Specialized mountain bike which he'd put slicks on. We'd never heard of padded shorts and both were basically clueless. More than anything I'm still amazed to this day that the wheels on the Halfords bike didn't buckle with my 90kg on + a shed load of camping equipment etc. (I over-packed big time). Anyway we completed this in 13 days going North to South, definitely wouldn't recommend this as we had 30mph winds every day for the first week, it was hell and the most demoralising thing I think I've ever done.

    Completed it again with a group of friends 2 years later going South to North, I was much more into my cycling then but had my A-Level exams in the month leading up to the ride so failed to get hardly any training in at all, completed it in 10 days that time.

    What I found was with little training, the first day or two were extremely hard but this soon toughened you up and once we got in a routine it became much more manageable. Would definitely recommend a 'rest day' where you do a shorter mileage of 50 miles or so. At first it will seem like a lot of miles to cover in a day when you have to hit targets of 80 miles+ but remember if you set off at 8am then you've effectively got 12 hours of day light to get the miles done and you have nothing to do but cycle!

    Organise and familiarise yourself with your route especially if you are using maps instead of a GPS, we used a UK atlas to plan the route beforehand and tore all the pages out we needed, we left with a big wad of paper and it's really satisfying after each day binning a few more bits and watching the pile of paper get smaller and smaller. Also every few days I always liked to look at a map of the UK because it's a huge boost to see just how far you travel in a matter of days.

    Anyway, take it steady, make sure you plan your route and equipment choice carefully and have a good base-level of fitness and the rest should take care of itself.