10 Weeks to the Best Ride of Your Life – Stage 3

Gran Fondo Race Training Plan – Stage 3

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Granfondo
Photo: Jarusha Brown, Prospera Granfondo Axel Merckx

Stage 3

Weeks 7-9: That’s no hill! It’s just a bump!

As we approach event day, we should be starting to feel the benefits of smart structural training with some functional challenges to help you progress. With this fitness we can afford to try some bigger challenges like hill training. Just the functional act of riding hills will help you improve on them, but here are a few tips to flatten those hills.

Pacing: Being patient on a hill is key to finishing strong. When we hit a hill on a ride, it can sure mess with your head because everything feels so much heavier, the speed is way lower and your body seems to want to mutiny. Keeping yourself under control, especially for the first stage of the hill, will pay dividends as you approach the top. Get into a rhythm with your breathing and pedalling. Try the ‘three threes’ rhythm: inhale smoothly for three pedal strokes and exhale smoothly for three pedal strokes. This will keep your breathing under control, yet you’re still working hard. As a rule, you should never hold your breath. Find a more natural and comfortable breathing pattern if you begin to feel lightheaded or dizzy. It can take some time to master this breathing pattern, so be patient.

Cadence and gear choice: When I ask athletes, what is the best cadence (number of revolutions of each leg in one minute = rpm) to pedal at, the most common answer is 90 rpm. Do you know why? Let’s start by not thinking about 90 rpm as a hard spinning threshold. Rather think of it as the top of the bell curve. A lot of people are most efficient at 90 rpm, but there many who are happier slightly above 95 rpm or can produce more power lower than 85 rpm. The reason for this variability is the balance of two major factors, functional co-ordination and passive blood pumping. We want to go slow enough that our protagonizing muscles (the ones producing forward movement) and the antagonizing muscles (the ones that should be resting) are contracting and relaxing in perfect harmony so as not to cause any wasted power. Inversely, we want to spin faster so we can reduce the muscle tension required during muscle loading at low cadence. Pick a gear that allows you to spin at the upper end of your comfort rpm. zone, but slow enough that you are consistent and smooth.

Week 7

Tuesday | BIKE: RIDE STRUCTURAL — FLAT TIME TRIAL

  • Duration: 70-90 minutes
  • Workout Description: Sustained effort with stable heart rate/ exertion and cadence
  • Warm-up: 10 minutes easiest gear spinning at high cadence (+5 rpm from normal)
  • Main Set: On a flat route (trainer would be better) settle into your normal cadence with effort at 70%. Aim to hold this output for 50-70 minutes. End your ride and cool down if either your exertion climbs to 80% or 90% or you have to decrease your gear to keep exertion the same
  • Cool-down: 10 minutes easy gear spin

Wednesday | STRENGTH: YouTube Core Set

  • Duration (P): 25 minutes
  • Workout Description: Focus on technique and challenge yourself by mixing up the order
    1. Push-ups 10-30 reps
    2. Leg raises 60 seconds
    3. Push-ups 10-30 reps
    4. Pelvic thrusts 60 seconds
    5. Push-ups 10-30 reps
    6. Back extensions 90-120 seconds (switch between 6 beat kick, star fish, and sky divers every 15 seconds)
    7. Side plank 60 seconds
    8. 90 degree sit-ups 60 seconds
    9. Other side plank 60 seconds
    10. Front plank 60 seconds

Thursday | BIKE: FUNCTIONAL HILL REPEATS

  • Warm-up: Spin easy gear for 10-20 minutes
  • Main Set: 3-7 climbs
  • Protocol: Find a steep, long and hard hill for 5 minutes at 70-80% exertion. Recover with 5 to 10 minutes easiest gear spin in between climbs
  • Cool-down: Easiest gear spin for 5-10 minutes

Friday | STRENGTH: YouTube Core Set

  • Duration: 25 minutes
  • Workout Description: Focus on technique and challenge yourself by mixing up the order
    1. Push-ups 10-30 reps
    2. Leg raises 60 seconds
    3. Push-ups 10-30 reps
    4. Pelvic thrusts 60 seconds
    5. Push-ups 10-30 reps
    6. Back extensions 90-120 seconds (switch between 6 beat kick, star fish, and sky divers every 15 seconds)
    7. Side plank 60 seconds
    8. 90 degree sit-ups 60 seconds
    9. Other side plank 60 seconds
    10. Front plank 60 seconds

Saturday | BIKE: RIDE STRUCTURAL – ATTACKING CLIMBS

  • Duration: 210 minute riding time
  • Workout Description: Feeling strong on the bike with strong climbing efforts
  • Warm-up: 10 minutes easy spin to start
  • Main Set: 80%-90% effort on undulating terrain. Every climb you have to slowly build your exertion levels for the duration. Start out easy and end up attacking over the crest to accelerate over the top
  • Cool-down: 10 minutes easy spin

Sunday | BIKE: GROUP RIDE

  • Duration: 210 minutes riding time
  • Workout Description/Goal: Develop comfort in riding with groups of people and learning to signal on the bike
  • Parameters: Join a local group, or get your friends together and head out for a sociable ride
  • Warm-up: 10 minutes easy spin to start
  • Main Set: 60% effort on undulating terrain with some smaller climbs
  • Cool-down: 15 minutes easy spin

Week 8

Tuesday | BIKE: CADENCE FIELD TEST

  • Workout Description: Time to repeat the cadence field test from Week 1 of the program. Let’s ensure that we are seeing some improvement!
  • Warm-up: 10 minutes easy spin
  • Main Set: Cadence field test
  • Cool-down: 10 minutes easy spin

Wednesday | STRENGTH: YouTube Core Set

  • Duration: 25 minutes
  • Workout Description/Goal: Focus on technique and challenge yourself by mixing up the order
    1. Push-ups 10-30 reps
    2. Leg raises 60 seconds
    3. Push-ups 10-30 reps
    4. Pelvic thrusts 60 seconds
    5. Push-ups 10-30 reps
    6. Back extensions 90-120 seconds (switch between 6 beat kick, star fish, and sky divers every 15 seconds)
    7. Side plank 60 seconds
    8. 90 degree sit-ups 60 seconds
    9. Other side plank 60 seconds
    10. Front plank 60 seconds

Thursday | BIKE: FUNCTIONAL HILL REPEATS

  • Warm-up: Spin easy gear for 10- 20 minutes
  • Main Set: 3- 7 climbs
  • Protocol: Find and climb a steep, long and hard hill for 5 minutes at 70-80% exertion. Recover with 5 to 10 minutes easiest gear spin in between sets
  • Cool-down: Easiest gear spin for 5- 10 minutes

Friday | STRENGTH: YouTube Core Set

  • Duration: 25 minutes
  • Workout Description: Focus on technique and challenge yourself by mixing up the order
  1. Push-ups 10-30 reps
  2. Leg raises 60 seconds
  3. Push-ups 10-30 reps
  4. Pelvic thrusts 60 seconds
  5. Push-ups 10-30 reps
  6. Back extensions 90-120 seconds (switch between 6 beat kick, star fish, and sky divers every 15 seconds)
  7. Side plank 60 seconds
  8. 90 degree sit-ups 60 seconds
  9. Other side plank 60 seconds
  10. Front plank 60 seconds

Saturday | BIKE: RACE PLAN TRIAL

  • Workout Description: Put into place and execute a thorough race plan for the fondo. From nutrition to pacing, this test will allow you to tweak things moving forward
  • Parameters: Distance is 80% of your race day distance
  • Calorie Consumption: Ensure you get a good nutritional plan together so you get between 200-350 calories per hour
  • Hydration: 500mL to 700mL per hour
  • Exertion Level: This is the big unknown. If you wear a heart rate monitor you will be able to gauge your effort throughout. Aim to keep it as stable as possible so you can manipulate it later if we need to
  • Route: An undulating route would be great with 2 longer or steeper climbs

Sunday | BIKE: RIDE STRUCTURAL – BREATHING FOCUS

  • Duration: 180 minutes riding time
  • Workout Description: Moderate your intensity, and develop control of your breathing rate
  • Parameters: For this workout you will need to take a breathing rate test during your warm-up. Spin at normal speeds and 60% effort. Count your breathing for 30 seconds (breath in and out=1). We will use this in the workout
  • Warm-up: 10 minutes easy spin to start
  • Main Set: 70% effort for 5-6 x 3 minute sets at 2 breaths below your count in the warm-up – 12 minutes normal breathing between
  • Cool-down: 15 minutes easy spin

Week 9

Tuesday | BIKE: 40-MINUTE TABATA WORKOUT

  • Workout Description: Functional stress on all systems. This workout will hit you hard
  • Warm-up: 5 minutes easy gradually increasing heart rate
  • Main Set: 1- 3 sets. One set is 15 seconds at 100% effort, 30 seconds rest. Repeating until your effort falls to 90%. Rest 4 minutes in between sets.
  • Cool-down: Minimum of 15 minutes spin down

Wednesday | STRENGTH:YouTube Core Set

  • Duration (P): 25 minutes
  • Workout Description/Goal: Focus on technique and challenge yourself by mixing up the order
    1. Push-ups 10-30 reps
    2. Leg raises 60 seconds
    3. Push-ups 10-30 reps
    4. Pelvic thrusts 60 seconds
    5. Push-ups 10-30 reps
    6. Back extensions 90-120 seconds (switch between 6 beat kick, star fish, and sky divers every 15 seconds)
    7. Side plank 60 seconds
    8. 90 degree sit-ups 60 seconds
    9. Other side plank 60 seconds
    10. Front plank 60 seconds

Thursday | BIKE: LACTATE STIMULATION

  • Workout Description: Production and utilization of lactate at intensity
  • Time Goals: 2 – 6 repeats
  • Warm-up: 10- 15 minutes easy spin
  • Main Set: Over/unders. Increase effort to 85% (where breathing starts to get taxed, or legs start to feel heavy). Maintain same gear, cadence and heart rate for 5 minutes. Recover at 70% for 5 minutes (this is not a full recovery intensity, you are still working here with good pressure on those pedals, but your breathing should come back into control)
  • Cool-down: 10 minutes easiest gear spin

Friday | STRENGTH: YouTube Core Set

  • Duration (P): 25 minutes
  • Workout Description/Goal: Focus on technique and challenge yourself by mixing up the order
    1. Push-ups 10-30 reps
    2. Leg raises 60 seconds
    3. Push-ups 10-30 reps
    4. Pelvic thrusts 60 seconds
    5. Push-ups 10-30 reps
    6. Back extensions 90-120 seconds (switch between 6 beat kick, star fish, and sky divers every 15 seconds)
    7. Side plank 60 seconds
    8. 90 degree sit-ups 60 seconds
    9. Other side plank 60 seconds
    10. Front plank 60 seconds

Saturday | BIKE: RACE PLAN TRIAL

  • Workout Description: A follow-up from last week. It’s time to tweak any aspects that you felt were off par. Put into place and execute a thorough race plan for the fondo. From nutrition to pacing, this test will allow you to tweak things moving forward
  • Parameters: Do 80% of your race day distance
  • Calorie Consumption: Ensure you get a good nutritional plan together so you get between 200-350 calories per hour
  • Hydration: 500mL to 700mL per hour
  • Exertion level: If you wear a heart rate monitor you will be able to gauge your effort throughout. Aim to keep it as stable as possible so you can manipulate it later if needed
  • Route: An undulating route would be great, with two longer or steeper climbs

Sunday | BIKE: SUPER EASY RIDE

  • Duration: 90-120 minutes
  • Workout Description: Really easy ride to keep the legs ticking
  • Exertion Level: 60% on a flat route

Stages

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