Last week I wrote about mistakes many riders in their 50s and beyond make. To reach a rider’s goals, knowing what not to do is as important as knowing what to do.
- Ignoring the training paradigm: Training stress (physiological overload) + rest = success (improvement).
- Riding the same way all the time: The first part of the training paradigm is physiological overload. If you faithfully ride 50 miles every week you’ll be proficient at riding 50 miles but won’t improve. You need to do more, but…
- Mindset or habit: To improve riders often believe they should always ride a certain number of miles a week, set a goal of riding at least 30 minutes every day of the week, etc. However, this won’t produce improvement but may result in staleness.
- Doing too much: Beyond a certain volume doing more riding doesn’t make you better.
- Insufficient recovery: Your body only rebuilds and gets stronger during recovery, not while you’re exercising.
- Nutrition before, during and after: Neglecting eating a carbohydrate-rich snack before the ride, carbs during the ride, and a carb-rich snack after the ride.
- Fads: Starting High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), a phenomenal spinning class, etc. may not be right for you.
- Neglecting non-cycling activities: As you age your body deteriorates in various ways unless you take corrective action to maintain muscle strength, flexibility, balance and strong bones.
George wrote after reading the column:
“I’m 72 and I’m preparing for Colorado’s Ride the Rockies, six straight days of riding Colorado high country roads: 50-100 miles per day with daily climbing of 4-7 thousand feet per day. I won’t be racing, merely trying to complete every day. Do I try to train my body for multiple hard days in a row by having some 4-6 day straight hard days (either distance or climbing or combo), or stick to my usual routine of not riding more than three days in a row and not riding hard two days in a row? I did this tour five years ago when I was 67 but now I am five years older and I can tell the difference. I tend to ride 2-4 hours per ride, and mix up climbing and flat/rollers.”
Coach John responds:
This is a good question. Ride the Rockies starts June 13, eight weeks from now. I live in Colorado and know all the roads. Ride the Rockies starts with three tough days, then two easy days and finally another hard day.
First, you should train up to riding something equivalent 2/3 – 3/4 of the time you think day #4 or #6 will take. If you think #4 or #6 will take you 9 hours, then build up to a 6-hour or longer ride. Mix up your riding. Instead of 2-4 hours rides, one week with a 5-hour ride. Don’t increase your total weekly volume, just vary the volume with one longer ride and other shorter rides. Make the next a very easy week with much less volume. Then the third week do a 6-hour ride and shorter rides without increasing your total volume by more than about 10 percent. You’re observing #2 don’t ride the same way all the time, #3 don’t train by habit, and #4 don’t ride too much. I wrote this column on 12 Mistakes Endurance Riders Make. Because Ride the Rockies is mountainous, here’s a column I wrote on 13 Ways to Improve Your Climbing.
To follow #5 getting enough recovery, take a very easy ride or day off before and after your long ride. Taking the easy week after the week with the first long ride you’ll be fresh for the second longer ride. Also, pay attention to the quality of your recovery. I wrote this column on Anti-Aging The Importance of Recovery in Your 50s, 60s and Beyond. I give you nine recovery tips. I also wrote this column on Recovery Nutrition.
Second, simulate Ride the Rockies while still observing the above rules. Start with two back-to-back climbing days a little shorter than the first two days of Ride the Rockies, something like 5-6 hours each day.
- Observing #6 practice eating enough before, during and after each ride. I wrote this column on 14 Nutrition Tips for Endurance Cyclists
- Practice pacing yourself — ride the first day the way you’ll feel like riding later in the tour, only 70-80% of your normal effort.
- Also practice recovering overnight.
After an easy recovery week then do three back-to- back climbing days, each a little shorter than days #1-3 again practicing everything. A good Ride the Rockies depends as much on pacing, nutrition, recovery and mental toughness as it does on your legs. I wrote this column on 10 Ways to Improve Your Mental Toughness.
We’re each an experiment of one and need to adapt the above 8 points to our specific goal(s) and type(s) of riding. The bottom line is to listen to your unique body.
Nutrition for 100K and Beyond In 17 pages I explain how to determine your energy needs while riding and what to eat before, during and after a ride.
Endurance Training and Riding bundle The 49 pages include:
- Nutrition for 100K and Beyond
- Beyond the Century describes training principles and different training intensities and how to integrate these into a season-long program of long rides. These principles also apply to shorter rides.
- Mastering the Long Ride gives you the non-riding skills you need to finish your endurance rides.
Optimal Recovery for Improved Performance The 16-page eArticle explains the importance of recovery and gives you 10 different techniques to improve your recovery and riding.
Healthy Nutrition Past 50 The 28-page eArticle explains the key role of carbohydrates, how much protein you need, the importance of fat and healthy food choices. It reviews what to consume while exercising, including the key roles of carbohydrates, fluid and electrolytes.
Cycling Past 50 4 Article Bundle The 100-page bundle includes 1) Healthy Cycling Past 50; 2) Healthy Nutrition Past 50; 3) Performance Cycling Past 50 and 4) Off-Season Conditioning Past 50.
Eating and Drinking Like the Pros The 15-page eArticle explains why the pros eat both sports nutrition and real food during a race and also what they consume for breakfast, post-race recovery and dinner. The eArticle includes recipes for you to make your own sports drinks, gels, bars and other foods to put in your jersey pocket.
Coach John Hughes earned coaching certifications from USA Cycling and the National Strength and Conditioning Association. John’s cycling career includes course records in the Boston-Montreal-Boston 1200-km randonnée and the Furnace Creek 508, a Race Across AMerica (RAAM) qualifier. He has ridden solo RAAM twice and is a 5-time finisher of the 1200-km Paris-Brest-Paris. He has written over 40 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training and nutrition, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach John Hughes. Click to read John’s full bio.