Question: I’m 48 and in the past rode 12-15 hours per week but was usually overtrained. This season I’m trying to recover better by doing 10-hour weeks including weekend rides of about 100 miles and building up only for major events.
I’m planning to ride one of Australia’s toughest “classics,” Grafton-Inverell. It’s 140 miles, starting at sea level and ascending to about 4,000 feet, with an 11-mile climb of 7 percent. It’ll take me about 8 hours. Do you think I need to do training rides of the same distance? Is an 8-week build-and-peak phase adequate? – Richard W.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: I think that your 100-mile weekend rides are long enough for a 140-mile event. But if you believe you need more distance to prepare, I recommend two longer rides spaced a week apart, with the second one no closer than 10 days before the event. These rides should be no more than 120 miles each. Include climbing, but not necessarily as severe as in the event.
Your body doesn’t need many long rides to adapt. The danger in doing more than a couple of lengthy training slogs is that you’llhave dead legs for the event. With your history of overtraining, be especially careful.
The other danger when adding long rides is that you have to cut back on more intense training. If you do, you’ll have plenty of endurance for the distance but not the speed necessary to stay with pacelines and have a faster finishing time.
An 8-week build period is plenty because you have such a good base of consistent riding. Thanks to your regular training schedule, you’re probably 90% of the way to peak fitness right now. The danger of doing a longer build period of, say, 12 weeks is, again, overtraining.
Build carefully and consistently. Monitor your body to make sure you aren’t overdoing it. It’s better to go into a hard event slightly undertrained than overtrained.
Coach Fred Matheny is an RBR co-founder who has four decades of road cycling and coaching experience. He has written 14 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach Fred Matheny, including the classic Complete Book of Road Bike Training, which includes 4 eBooks comprising 250 pages of timeless, detailed advice and training plans. The Complete Book is one of the many perks of an RBR Premium Membership. Click to read Fred’s full bio.