10 Weeks to the Best Ride of Your Life – Stage 1

Gran Fondo Race Training Plan – Stage 1

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Granfondo
Photo: Jarusha Brown, Prospera Granfondo Axel Merckx

Every rider loves to channel his, or her, inner Italian when fondo season hits.

Cortofondos, mediofondos, granfondos and stage events are the rewards offered to both the recreational and experienced road cyclist who’s willing to put in time on the bike. Getting through these events can pose quite a challenge. Let IMPACT guide you through your training to prepare for these big events.

This plan was put together with Dr. Andrew Sellars and our team of coaches at Balance Point Racing. It is designed to help riders make the most of their training time and take their performance to a new level.

Here is Stage 1 of our 10-week plan for you to follow as a lead-up to your race. With 3 to 6 workouts each week, you will be road ready in 10 weeks to conquer any ride.

Stage 1

Weeks 1-3: Structural and Functional Fitness

Structural fitness describes the physical makeup of an athlete (height, weight, heart size, lung volume, etc.). Functional fitness has to do with how an athlete is able to make use of those structures. For example, if you have a six-foot-eight teenage boy with long arms and strong shoulders, he won’t necessarily be an NBA star. These characteristics only describe structural traits that are commonly found in the NBA; they say nothing about the athlete’s functional ability to shoot, dribble, pass, run and jump.

When it comes to training for cycling, we identify whether a workout is structurally focused or functionally focused.

How do we adapt an athlete’s physical characteristics? How do we mobilize those characteristics to a higher level? When thinking about training in this way, remember that it takes a lot longer to see a structural change than to create a functional change. Because of this, most people tend to focus on functional workouts to see rapid improvement over a short period of time. The problem with functionally heavy training is the high risk of injury. By definition, functional training is pushing the capacity of any given system. And without a strong foundation of structure, you are paddling a frail boat down a turbulent river. It’s just a matter of time before you sink. Here’s our plan. Time to get riding.

Week 1

Monday | BIKE: CADENCE TEST #1

  • Warm-up: 10 minutes easy spin
  • Cadence Test: A simple way to determine your cadence balance point is to use bounce and perceived comfort. With an effort level about 5 out 10, hold a consistent speed at 50 rpm for 2 minutes. Increase your rpm to 60 and hold for another 2 minutes and keep increasing your rpm each two minute interval while holding the speed constant until you start bouncing in your saddle (or you feel the effort has changed exponentially.) The point just before you lose control is your cadence balance point
  • Cool-down: 10 minutes easy spin

Tuesday | BIKE: LACTATE STIMULATION

  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Workout Description: Production and utilization of lactate at intensity
  • Warm-up: 10-15 minutes easy spin
  • Main set: Over/unders. For the over, increase effort to 85% (an intensity where breathing starts to get taxed or legs start to feel heavy). Maintain same gear, cadence and heart rate for 5 minutes. Make a note of your cadence. Go under to recover at 70% for 5 minutes (this is not full recovery intensity, you are still working with good pressure on those pedals, but breathing should come back into control). Repeat 5 times
  • Cool-down: 10 minutes spin on the easiest gear

Thursday | BIKE: RIDE STRUCTURAL — CADENCE FOCUS

  • Duration: 120 minutes
  • Workout Description: Moderate intensity and control cadence at a slightly higher rate than normal
  • Parameters: Determine your maximum controllable cadence (MCC) as noted from your cadence test. We are going to use this value (rpm) to stimulate change
  • Warm-up: 10 minutes easy spin
  • Main set: 70% effort for 10 x 2 minutes at MCC – 8 minutes at normal cadence between sets
  • Cool-down: 15 minutes easy spin

Sunday | BIKE: RIDE STRUCTURAL — BREATHING FOCUS

  • Duration: 100 minutes
  • Workout Description: Moderate your intensity and develop control of your breathing rate
  • Parameters: Take a breathing rate test during your warm-up. Spin at normal speeds and a 60% effort. Count your breathing for 30 seconds (breathe in and out = 1). We will use this in the workout
  • Warm-up: 10 minutes easy spin
  • Main set: 70-80% effort for 5 x 3 minute sets at 2 breaths below your count in the warm-up (for example, if you counted 12 in the 30-second count during your warm-up, try to breathe 10 in the same 30 seconds) – 12 minutes normal breathing between (the rate you counted in warm-up)
  • Cooldown: 15 minutes easy spin

Week 2

Tuesday | BIKE: LACTATE STIMULATION

  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Workout Description: Production and utilization of lactate at intensity
  • Warm-up: 10- 15 minutes easy spin
  • Main Set: Over/unders. Just like Week 1 but with 6 repeats, instead of 5. Increase effort to 85% intensity (breathing taxed or legs heavy). Maintain same gear, cadence and heart rate for 5 minutes). Recover at 70% for 5 minutes (this is not full recovery intensity, you are still working with good pressure on the pedals, but your breathing should come back into control). 6 repeats
  • Cool-down: 10 minutes easiest gear spin

Thursday | BIKE: RIDE STRUCTURAL — CADENCE FOCUS

  • Duration: 150 minutes
  • Workout Description: Moderate intensity and control cadence at a slightly higher rate than normal Parameters: From your cadence test you would have found your maximum controllable cadence. We are going to use this value (rpm) to stimulate some change
  • Warm-up: 10 minutes easy spin to start
  • Main set: 70% effort 10-12 x 2 minutes at MCC then 8 minutes at normal cadence in between
  • Cool-down: 15 minutes easy spin

Sunday | BIKE: RIDE STRUCTURAL — BREATHING FOCUS

  • Duration: 120 minutes
  • Workout Description: Moderate intensity and develop control of breathing rate
  • Parameters: Take a breathing rate test during your warm-up. Spin at normal speeds and a 60% effort. Count your breathing for 30 seconds (breathe in and out = 1). We will use this in the workout
  • Warm-up: 10 minutes easy spin to start
  • Main set: 70-80% effort 6 x 3 minutes sets at 2 breaths below your count in the warm-up (for example, if you counted 12 in the 30-second count during your warm-up, try to breathe 10 in the same 30 seconds) — 12 minutes normal breathing between (the rate you counted in warm-up)
  • Cool-down: 15 minutes easy spin

Week 3

Tuesday | BIKE: CADENCE FIELD TEST

  • Warm-up: 10 minutes easy spin
  • Cadence Field Test: Keep your effort 60-70% effort. Start at 80 rpm for 3 minutes. Increase to 85 rpm for 3 minutes, increase to 90 rpm for 3 minutes, increase to 95 rpm for 3 minutes, increase to 100 rpm for 3 minutes . . . Keep increasing your rpm by 5 every 3 minutes until you start to bounce in the saddle. Record your maximum cadence
  • Cool-down: 10 minutes easy spin

Thursday | BIKE: LACTATE STIMULATION

  • Workout Description: Production and utilization of lactate at intensity.
  • Warm-up: 10- 15 minutes easy spin
  • Main set: Over/unders. Increase effort to 85% (breathing taxed or legs heavy). Maintain same gear, cadence and heart rate for 5 minutes. Recover at 70% for 5 minutes (still working with good pressure on the pedals, but breathing should come back into control)
  • Cool-down: 10 minutes easiest gear spin

Saturday | BIKE: GROUP RIDE

  • Duration: 150 minutes
  • Workout Description: Developing comfort 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 social ride
  • Warm-up: 10 minutes easy spin
  • Main set: 70% effort on undulating terrain with smaller climbs that you can settle on and plod your way up
  • Cool-down: 15 minutes easy spin

Sunday | BIKE: RIDE STRUCTURAL — STRENGTH BUILDING

  • Duration: 120 minutes (or longer if you are feeling great)
  • Workout Description: Feeling strong on the bike with big gear, slow cadence work
  • Warm-up: 10 minutes easy spin
  • Main set: 80-90% effort on undulating terrain. Every climb you have to pick a slightly harder gear than normal and lower your cadence (60-65 rpm is perfect). Try to remain seated as long as you can. As soon as you have to stand, ease off the effort and let yourself recover
  • Cool-down: 10 minutes easy spin

Stages

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