I know for many of us in the Pacific Northwest, cycling is the last thing on our minds right now. It’s cold, and there may still be lots of snow on the ground. But for those of you signed up for either one of the BRNW rides this summer, it’s time to start thinking about getting ready for those week-long adventures.
First off, let me tell you a bit about myself. My name is Anne Linton, and I’m a retired MD who is now a cycling/triathlon endurance coach with Wenzel Coaching. I also teach indoor spin classes at the Athletic Club of Bend, as well as working at Sunnyside Sports in Bend – the bike shop that provides mechanics and other folks to help with the BRNW rides. In addition, I’m a Trek Women’s Advocate, and I help guide the Tour des Chutes century and the Central Oregon 500 every year.
I’m coming onboard this year to serve as a training resource for BRNW riders. I’ll be posting monthly training blogs, and I plan on being out there, riding/guiding, for both the Idaho and Oregon bike rides with BRNW this summer – I look forward to meeting you!
Over the next six months or so I’ll post a series of monthly blogs to provide you with some training guidelines that will help you have the best experience possible on our rides. Here’s a brief summary of each month’s focus:
- January and February will be about getting your mental and physical game ready for training, with endurance base-building and overall full body/core strength.
- March will be time to start getting outside on your bike and gradually building up long endurance riding. I always suggest including hills in your rides throughout the year, to help you get ready for the hills on our events.
- In April and May we’ll start increasing the intensity while continuing with endurance riding.
- June and July will feature final tune-ups, with a brief taper program for the week prior the ride(s) you’re doing.
So what’s the goal as we put January in the rear-view mirror? The main thing to focus on early in the year is getting your mind and body ready to start training. Most of us are just getting over a long holiday season, and excited that each day we get more sunlight. We may have needed some downtime after the holidays to recover, but now that it’s the end of January, it’s time to get ready.
You have to get ready both mentally and physically – so let’s first talk about jump-starting your mental game. Get out a calendar and start by planning to do some events that will lead up to your BRNW ride in July or August. Do an online search for organized rides in your area, or talk to your local bike shop about possibilities. Do you see a metric century or century ride you want to do in the spring or early summer? Register and put it on your calendar. Is there a local regular group ride or indoor cycling class available to you? Sign up for it and commit. I find choosing an interim “goal event” is one of the best motivators to get your training kick-started. Remember, six to seven months is not that far away; it’ll be here before you know it!
Second, let’s talk about how to get your body ready for the rigors of training and riding once riding season is in full bloom. Find a basic full-body strength routine you can do, along with some body-core exercises. If you have a gym membership, meet with a personal trainer to set up a program to work on full-body strength, with a strong core/leg focus. Find a strength class you like; just be careful to start slowly, as you don’t want to end up so sore you can’t move. Enjoy yoga? Commit to a weekly yoga class to help with core stability and flexibility.
You’ll also need some sort of aerobic/cardio activity to get you going as winter wanes. If you like cross-country skiing and you’ve got snow, then do that – skate or classic, although classic is more akin to the motion of riding a bike. Did you know that Norwegian sprint sensation and Tour de France green jersey winner Thor Hushovd spends a lot of his winter cross-country skiing (classic) in order to prepare for his road racing season? Skate skiing, on the other hand, is much more taxing physically, so it can be a really hard workout that requires good recovery. Taking Nordic skiing lessons is a great way to be sure your technique is good. Alpine skiing is a great quad-burner strength exercise, but if you’re riding the chairlift you probably aren’t getting the cardiovascular workout you might think. If you go for a long day riding chairs, that’s fine; just count that day as a strength day in your schedule.
And then, of course, there are the wonders of fatbiking!
How many days a week should you exercise? I recommend at least three days a week of aerobic activity, and two days a week of strength/core work (and an extra day of core will never hurt you). Regardless of your fitness level/age, you should always take one day completely off each week to rest and recover. Physiology teaches us that we don’t get fitter while we’re working out; our fitness gains happen while we’re recovering, so without good recovery you won’t go anywhere but into the abyss of overtraining, illness or injury.
How much time should you put into this? It all depends on what you’ve been doing. Assuming a typical “off-season” level of activity, start with an hour of aerobic activity each time, and increase that by 10 percent every week. For strength training, usually an hour is plenty of time to get all those body parts covered, and core workouts can be quick – anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes if you’re just doing core.