I’ve been stuck for a topic to write about for the last week or so. I’ve been out on the bike a lot, there have been some big rides, and the weather has still been abysmal — but nothing interesting or out of the ordinary has happened. Then, reading back through my blog, I realized I haven’t really written about my typical training rides.
The temptation is always to write about ‘epic’ and interesting rides — after all, they’re the ones that are worth reading about! But it’s the hard-graft during the week and the solitary, uninspiring weekend efforts that make more ambitious rides possible — so I thought I’d spend a bit of time letting you know what a typical week looks like for me. If you’re not that interested, feel free to skip this post!
As much as I’d like to be able to focus on training fulltime, the reality is that I couldn’t do races like the Transcontinental or the Trans Am Bike Race without earning some money! This might stray dangerously close to stating the obvious, but it’s worth pointing out — after all, a 9-5 job during the week limits the hours I can spend on the bike.
A bit of background
In late 2013, having just finished university, I was in a ‘limbo’ period. I’d promised myself that I’d take a break after finishing my degree and, having worked in bike shops while studying, I had a bit of cash to support myself.
The next few months were brilliant. I started the break by riding my bike from Vancouver to see my girlfriend, Elizabeth, in Minneapolis — finally getting back to cycling after too long holed up reading books. The Transcontinental Race followed in August, before I went back out to the US to spend a bit more time with Elizabeth and ride my bike around sunny North Carolina.
Returning to the UK (and a full time job) was a bit of a reality check. Gone were the days where I could wake up in the morning, roll out the door, and ride until I was tired. Suddenly, training was something I had to fit in around other responsibilities — it couldn’t come first anymore.
Typical training week
If I wanted to keep my training for 2014 and the Trans Am Bike Race on target, I had to start to be a bit more focused. I couldn’t ride from 9-5, so I had to ensure I put in the effort to go out in the evenings and make the weekends count.
So, what does my typical training week look like? I try to get out five days a week. Monday is usually a rest day, allowing me to recover from the weekend. Tuesday and Thursday are three hours in the evening, separated by a two-hour strength ride on a Wednesday. I usually have Friday’s off, leaving me fresh for a big mileage weekend.
I’ll try to get at least one ‘big’ ride in over the weekend, somewhere in the ballpark of 8-10hrs — translating to 120-160 miles, depending on the terrain, weather, and if I’m carrying luggage. With the remaining day of the week, be it Saturday or Sunday, I try to get in a few easy hours — just to keep the legs turning over.
This translates to around 300 miles a week — not as much as I’d like, but definitely enough to form a good base. Going forward into March and April, I’ll probably try to increase the mileage as spring arrives and add in more speed work. With a bit of luck this should get me to June in good shape.
I should stress that this is a typical week! One of the penalties to working / having other commitments is that I have to try and stay flexible — e.g. for part of last week I had to be up in London without the bike. I don’t think that it’s worth stressing over missing a day’s training here and there; what’s important is to keep focused and stay positive.
Some other news
I’ve now booked my flights out to Portland for the Trans Am Bike Race! I fly in on the evening of June 1st, giving me a bit of time to get over jet lag and recover before the race starts on June 8th. I’ve heard enough horror stories about airlines losing bikes that I didn’t want to fly out closer to the start! So if anyone knows of any cheap accommodation in the Portland / Astoria area, let me know!
I’ve also booked a training trip at the start of May — something to give me a final block of long miles before the race starts. More details to follow closer to the time…