Guest contribution by John Swanstrom
Cycling is a fantastic way to stay fit and healthy, and it’s no wonder many people enjoy participating in long-distance cycling events. These events can range from century rides to multi-day tours, and they offer a unique challenge that requires both physical and mental preparation.
If you’re considering taking on a long-distance cycling event, it’s important to train properly to ensure you’re prepared for the challenge ahead. In this blog post, I’ll provide tips and strategies for training for long-distance cycling events.
Setting goals and planning your training
An essential aspect of training for long-distance cycling events is setting specific goals and creating a training plan that suits you. It’s important to consider what you want to achieve and how you’ll get there. You might want to focus on building endurance, improving speed, or completing the event. Once you’ve established your goals, you can create a training plan that works for you.
When creating your training plan, knowing your current fitness level and the time you have available to train is important. You should gradually aim to increase your mileage and intensity over time, but it’s important not to push yourself too hard too soon. Do not ignore rest days, as they are just as important as training days. Make sure to incorporate them into your plan!
Strength Training for Cycling
While endurance is important for long-distance cycling events, strength training can also play a crucial role in helping you perform at your best. Strength training can help you build the muscles you need to tackle hills and handle your bike more easily. Some strength training exercises particularly helpful for cyclists include squats, lunges, deadlifts, and core exercises like planks and Russian twists.
Incorporating strength training into your training plan is important, but you don’t necessarily need to hit the gym to do so. Try to perform strength training workouts two to three times a week, and make sure to give your muscles time to recover between sessions. Bodyweight exercises and resistance bands can be just as effective.
Nutrition and hydration for long-distance cycling events
Good nutrition and hydration are key to performing your best during long-distance cycling events. Fueling your body with essential nutrients before, during, and after your rides is important. Carbohydrates, in particular, are important for endurance athletes. They provide the energy your body needs to keep going.
Before a long ride, eat a meal high in carbohydrates but moderate in protein and fat. During your ride, consume enough water and electrolytes to stay hydrated, and aim to eat small snacks or energy gels to keep your energy levels up. After your ride, eat a meal high in protein to help your muscles recover.
Mental preparation for long-distance cycling events
Long-distance cycling events can be mentally challenging, and preparing yourself for this aspect of the challenge is important. Visualizing success and breaking down the event into manageable chunks can be helpful strategies for staying mentally strong during training and events. It’s also important to stay positive and focus on your progress rather than getting discouraged by setbacks.
Training for a long-distance cycling event can be a rewarding challenge requiring physical and mental preparation. By setting specific goals, planning your training, incorporating strength training, fueling your body properly, and staying mentally strong, you’ll be well-prepared to take on the challenge.
I hope these tips and strategies help you succeed in your long-distance cycling endeavors! If you want to learn more, many additional resources are available online and in person, such as cycling coaches or group rides.
John is a successful Amateur Masters Mountain Bike racer who lives in Southern California. Go to Cyclists Authority for more of John’s perspective on Cycling.