Question: I’ve been riding for five years. Next season my goal is 300 miles at the National 24-Hour Challenge. My previous best is 255 miles. I was drained afterward. How many miles should I accumulate before the event? Should I focus on long rides or shorter, more intense workouts? — Maria A.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: It’s hard to say how many miles you should ride between November and June. The appropriate amount will differ with age, cycling experience, physical talent and available time.
Some riders would want between 8,000 and 10,000 miles. Others would do well on half that amount — or less. You have to decide based on how your body reacts, how much time you have for training and whether you’re still having fun in March as you build toward the event.
As for whether it’s better to concentrate on long rides or short, intense ones, the answer is — both! Each will help you perform better in endurance events.
You need long rides for aerobic fitness and to work out the bugs in equipment, clothing and nutrition. Shorter, faster rides help you increase your cruising speed so you can ride faster at a comfortable effort level.