Training Tips For The Leisure Cyclist

Feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of averaging 50-85 miles a day for 7-12 days in a row? Fear not! We’ve got you covered with some training tips to make sure you’re as fit as you can be before you cross the START line at Mizen Head.

Before you begin, take note of how you’re feeling in terms of strength and cardiovascular fitness. Training is most effective when you track your progress and slowly but steadily increase your load over time. This allows your body to adapt each time you step it up. Make your rides challenging and push yourself, but also keep in mind that rest and recovery are equally important.

Look at your calendar and count back 12 to 16 weeks from your MizMal Tour start date. This is the optimal time period for when you should start training on a regular basis. At first, simply fit your training into your regular riding habits whatever they may be. Can you add a few more miles at the end of a ride or squeeze in a few more hills during? Build it up gradually.

You can vary your training rides between these three types:

1. The Long Ride

Weekend warrior? Great! Do your long ride once a week on the weekend.

Retired with all the free time in the world? High five! Do your long ride any ol’ day of the week.

Really it doesn’t matter when you do it, you just have to commit to getting it done once a week. Go ahead and groan, but recognize how important it is to build your stamina.

So what constitutes a long ride?

Excellent question! Start with 2-3 hours of riding and see where you’re at for distance. The next week tack on another 5-10 miles. Keep adding miles until you build yourself up to 85 miles if you are training for the Seven Day event [Insert link] and 45 miles if training for the Twelve Day event [Insert link].

Do these rides at a steady pace with moderate effort - somewhere between where you can hold a conversation and the point at which you can only manage shorter sentences. Also find a cycling buddy or two. Riding with others will help you maintain a steady pace, ride stronger, and have more fun!

2. The Steady Ride

This shorter weekday spin can be done a few times a week and will help you beef up your mileage and get you used to riding faster, for increasingly longer periods of time. Start with an hour long ride, and increase by 15 minutes each week until two weeks before the event, when you’ll start to taper. Since these are shorter than The Long Ride, you’ll want to move at a slightly faster pace. This type of training is one of the most effective in building endurance fitness.

3. The Speed Ride

A weekly speed ride will increase your lactate threshold, i.e. the point at which your muscles start screaming to stop. Over time this will help you ride faster without it hurting. Start with a 30-minute fast ride at a pace that is slightly difficult to keep. Build up over the course of a few weeks to an hour and a half in 15-minute increments. Then taper down by 15 minutes in each of the two weeks before the event.

Spinning (static cycling) is a good way to build speed and cardiac endurance. Spinning is the cycling equivalent of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), a series of short, maximal efforts of 30-90 seconds, interspersed with brief rest periods of roughly double that time. Cycle as fast as you can for 30 seconds, rest for 60 seconds. Cycle as fast as you can for 45 seconds, rest for 90 seconds, and so on.

Here’s a possible rotation schedule to get you started:

  1. Sunday – The Long Ride
  2. Monday – Rest
  3. Tuesday – The Steady Ride
  4. Wednesday – Rest
  5. Thursday – The Speed Ride
  6. Friday – The Steady Ride
  7. Saturday – Rest

Pro tip: Life gets in the way. Let it! Train, rest, relax, repeat. Try not to get so focused on training that you forget to have fun with friends and family.