10 Weeks to the Best Ride of Your Life – Stage 2

Gran Fondo Race Training Plan – Stage 2

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Granfondo
Photo: Jarusha Brown, Prospera Granfondo Axel Merckx

Stage 2

Weeks 4-6: Back-to-Back Long Rides

Most people can ride long once a week, maybe even twice a week. How about going on a long ride two days in a row? The reason it’s easier to tackle several long rides with many days in between is the abundance of recovery. How long the recovery process takes varies immensely depending on the athlete and situation. The first factor to consider is how much structural training you have done in the past. If you have a long history of consistent training, you have a major ace up your sleeve. The next big factor is functional recovery. Here are some short-term tricks you can use to help bring your body back to a recovered state.

The first thing to think about after getting off your bike is finding ways to help the body stop the catabolic process initiated by exercise. Remember, it is the act of recovery that makes you stronger (anabolic process). Exercise weakens the body by breaking down fuel (catabolism) to provide the energy required to perform.

Compression gear and a mixed carbohydrate and protein snack can all be used to aid the recovery process. This first step actually begins before you even finish your ride, by not allowing yourself to get hungry or thirsty during your ride. By staying topped-up on food and water while riding, you can start the recovery process almost immediately after getting off the bike. Step two of your nutrition/hydration strategy should include easily digestible foods that are full of vitamins, minerals and a small amount of protein. Fruits and veggies with high water content are ideal choices.

The next factor is compression. By adding some compression on your muscles with compression socks, tights or shorts, you help your vascular system operate more efficiently, moving waste materials back from the periphery, for clearance by the liver, kidneys and lymphatic systems. It’s common for blood vessels to have a hard time returning to a normal rested state after being under stress. Compression helps this process by reducing the amount of room there is for blood to pool.

Finally, the real lynchpin in recovery is rest and sleep. There is just no substitute for deep natural sleep. In this wonderful state, the body goes into an intense rebuilding phase. Set yourself up to sleep as long and deep as possible.

Here’s our plan for the next three weeks.

Week 4

Tuesday | BIKE: SUSTAINED CADENCE

  • Duration: 80 minutes total
  • Workout Description: Riding with stable heart rate while working on pedal coordination
  • Warm-up: 10 minutes easy spin on flat terrain at your normal cadence
  • Main set: Holding stable heart rate (around 60% effort), slowly increase cadence to 5-10 above your normal rpm and hold it
  • Cool Down: 10 minutes easiest gear spin

Thursday | BIKE: CADENCE FIELD TEST

  • Workout Description: Repeat the cadence field test from Week 1 of the program. (LINK TO WEEK 1 FIELD CADENCE TEST) Ensure that you are seeing improvement.
  • Warm-up: 10 minutes easy spin
  • Main set: Cadence field test
  • Cool-down: 10 minutes easy spin

Saturday | BIKE: RIDE STRUCTURAL — ATTACKING CLIMBS

  • Duration: 120 minutes 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: 140 minutes riding time
  • Workout Description: Develop comfort riding with a group and learning to signal on the bike
  • Parameters: Join a local group, or get all your friends together, and head out for a sociable ride
  • Warm-up: 10 minutes easy spin to start
  • Main set: 70% effort on undulating terrain with some smaller climbs that you feel you can settle on and plod your way up
  • Cool-down: 15 minutes easy spin

Week 5

Tuesday | BIKE: RESPIRATORY CONTROL IN RECOVERY — HILL CLIMBS

  • Duration: 90 minutes
  • Workout Description: Developing a stronger respiratory system in recovery through controlled breathing
  • Warm-up: 10 minutes steady state spin at normal cadence. You will need to ride your way to a steep hill that has a flat area OR descent following it
  • Main set: Climb a steep hill ensuring you hit about 80% exertion (ideally about a 3-5 minute climb). Once at the top you are going to take big, deep, slow breaths for 2 minutes while you recover on the flat/descent. Really fight for the control. Return to the start and repeat 5–7 times
  • Cool-down: 10 minutes easy spin. This is any easy one to simulate on a trainer

Wednesday | 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

Thursday | BIKE: LACTATE STIMULATION

  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Workout Description: Production and utilization of lactate at intensity
  • Time Goals: 4-6 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 under control)
  • Cool-down: 10 minutes easiest gear spin

Saturday | BIKE: RIDE STRUCTURAL — STRENGTH BUILDING

  • Duration: 120 minutes
  • Workout Description: Feeling strong on the bike with big gear, slow cadence work
  • Warm-up: 10 minutes easy spin to start
  • Main set: 70% 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

Sunday | BIKE: RIDE STRUCTURAL — CADENCE FOCUS

  • Duration: 120 minutes
  • Workout Description: Moderate intensity and control your cadence at a slightly higher rate than normal
  • Parameters: From your cadence test, you would have found your maximum controllable cadence (MCC). We are going to use this value (rpm) to stimulate some change
  • Warm-up: 10 minutes easy spin to start
  • Main set: 70% effort for 9 x 90-second sets at MCC, 8.5 minutes normal cadence in between sets
  • Cool-down: 15 minutes easy spin

Week 6

Tuesday | BIKE: RECOVERY RIDE

  • Duration: 60- 90 minutes
  • Workout Description: This is a recovery week. The goal of this ride is to maintain your co-ordination while allowing your other systems to recover. Ride at 40-50% effort

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: SUSTAINED CADENCE

  • Duration: 60-80 minutes
  • Workout Description: Riding with stable heart rate while working on your pedal co-ordination
  • Warm-up: 10 minutes easy spin on flat terrain at your normal cadence
  • Main set: Holding stable heart rate (60% effort). Slowly increase cadence to 5-10 above your normal rpm and hold it
  • Cool-down: 10 minutes easiest gear spin

Saturday | BIKE: GROUP RIDE

  • Duration: 180 minutes
  • Workout Description: Develop 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 sociable ride
  • Warm-up: 10 minutes easy spin
  • Main set: 70% effort on undulating terrain with some smaller climbs that you feel you can settle on and plod your way up
  • Cool-down: 15 minutes easy spin

Sunday | BIKE: RIDE STRUCTURAL — BREATHING FOCUS

  • Duration: 120 minutes
  • Workout Description: Moderate your intensity and develop control of your breathing
  • 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
  • Main set: 70-80% 6 x 3-minute sets at 2 breaths below your count in the warm-up. 12 minutes normal breathing in between sets
  • Cool-down: 15 minutes easy spin

Stages

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