by Fred Matheny
Increasing your endurance seems easy — simply ride more miles. It isn’t that easy in practice, however, for several of reasons. First, you need an important goal to stay motivated. You need more time, too. And you need to know how to increase mileage safely and effectively. It’s common to do too much too soon and fall prey to overtraining, overuse injuries, or plain old boredom.
Let’s look at perhaps the best way to increase endurance. It’s worked for countless riders over the years, and it’s a great tool. It begins with this simple declaration: “I’m going to do the [Insert Event Name] century ride in [insert Month].” Fill in the blank with a 100-miler near you.
There’s sure to be one. More than a thousand organized centuries are held in the U.S. each year. By choosing one that’s at least two months away, you can make tremendous strides in your endurance before the big day. The benefits will extend far beyond the event you’re training for. When you can finish a century, you’ll have the fitness and confidence to ride any distance shorter than three figures, too.
It’s important not to underestimate the challenge. One hundred miles is a long way on a bike, no doubt about it. It’ll likely take six or more hours — a daunting prospect if you’re a first-timer. But it’s also important not to overestimate the challenge. Building up to a century isn’t the overwhelming task that you may fear. In fact, if you can spin along comfortably for 60 to 90 minutes right now, you can get century-fit in only eight weeks of training.
Heck, you might even ramp it up to aiming for a handful of centuries this year. Or even one a month, like one of our readers who shared his annual goals with us.