So you have some fitness, but need to boost that to great fitness in four weeks or less? Read on…

Hey Levi, So I have a friend who is kind of a fitness phenom, she’s majoring in nutrition and is into all sorts of fitness exercises. Well, she decided that since we both have bikes that we ride to class that we should do a 42 mile bike ride. Now, I’m a somewhat fit guy and I was kind of wondering what kind of training I needed to do to get ready for this and would a month be to soon to participate? Thanks!!

This is a great question because so many things can happen. That also makes it hard to give you a clear answer, but here’s what might happen:

If the ride covers flat terrain and you can ride at a reasonable pace (i.e. you can converse normally without getting out of breath,) you’ll be fine. You just don’t want to push your limits speed-wise, because if you push too hard, even for 30 seconds, you could ruin the whole ride.

So go slow and steady and have fun. Because the next day you’ll be sore! See, reasonably fit people can usually push themselves pretty hard for a day, letting you get through the 42 miles. It’s just that you’ll be extremely sore the next day, whereas someone that does 40-50 mile rides every weekend will recover quicker.

On the other hand, if you’re talking 42 miles over mountain passes, you’re in for a world of hurt. But again, try to keep a good aerobic pace as much as possible, and stay hydrated!

I have some friends who were in a similar situation. They were generally in-shape, but they weren’t cyclists, and they did a 28-mile charity ride after very limited training. The good news is that they all completed it successfully. However, 42 miles will be tougher, and if it’s hilly, a lot tougher.

You can do it though, especially if you already do some riding to and from class. If it’s an organized ride they may have aid stations with food, water, medical staff, and a “sag wagon” to make sure you finish even if you can’t ride any longer.

What I would do is set-up a rough training plan for the next 4 weeks, working back from the event. Whatever you do, make sure the final week before the event has a decrease in training volume and/or intensity so that you are well rested.

So that gives you three weeks to train. Do at least one long ride each weekend, trying to work up to a solid 30 mile ride the weekend before the event. If you can do the 30 miler, you’ll be able to do the 42.

On the other days, just try to get out on the bike and ride further than usual. You don’t need a specific schedule or advanced training methods, but do listen to your body. If you are too sore to ride, don’t ride! (However, a 15 minute easy ride on flat ground is a great way to loosen up your legs if they get stiff and sore, so try to add this “active recovery” into your routine.)

So your first week might go something like this:

Monday – rest day
Tues – 8 mile ride
Weds – easy spin for 15 minutes
Thurs – 8 mile ride
Fri – easy spin for 15 minutes
Sat – 8 or 10 mile ride, a little faster than usual
Sun – 12 or 14 mile ride, nice and slow

Do what you can for three weeks, take it easy for a week, then ride the 42 miler.

If you had a little more riding under your belt, I’d recommend some interval training. Intervals are great because they get you in shape fast, and they’ll even increase your endurance. (Seriously, you could train for a century by doing intervals instead of endurance rides.) But intervals are tough, so take it easy if you’re not used to intense efforts.

Best of luck!

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2 Comments
  1. Coach levi:
    I am in good shape, 200 lbs, physically fit in my mid thirties. I want to ride a 350 miles road race for a local charity in September 09. Plse let me how I should prepare fot this ride over the next 7 months.
    – Miles training per day per day, per week, per month
    – Special training and prep for hill climbing
    – Recommended diet
    Thanks
    Gethin Dalton

  2. @Gethion

    You need to ride a lot to prepare your body for a big endeavor such as a 350 mile ride. If you want to put together a detailed training plan I suggest using the guides in one or both of these books:

    http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Book-Long-Distance-Cycling-Confidence/dp/1579541992/

    http://www.amazon.com/Cyclists-Training-Bible-Joe-Friel/dp/1934030201/

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