Training for a Sportive

Have you thought about what exactly it is that you want to achieve from The Marie Curie Etape Caledonia? You may be riding in memory of a friend or family member, just looking to enjoy the ride at your own pace whilst raising vital funds for Marie Curie. Or on the other hand you may be pursuing a personal best time, looking to shave minutes or even seconds off your previous time if you’re returning to the event. So whether you’re completing or conquering, it’s helpful to set yourself targets to help you achieve your goals, or even just to help you get around the course!

Check out our training advice for a sportive below that will help make sure you’re prepared for the 81-mile challenge in May.

Get some long rides in

Getting long rides in at the heart of your training is important, however don’t panic if you miss the odd planned ride. Try not to let things such as bad weather or a broken bike prevent you from getting some mileage in – there could be bad weather on event day. Take your bike to be fixed at a local bike shop, and learn how it’s done if you’re unable to do it in the first place yourself.

Long rides will help your body get used to handing the demands it will face on event day, and will also teach you to draw upon your fuel reserves more efficiently.

Pace yourself

And whilst you put the miles in, practise pacing yourself. They key trick here is to climb at an intensity that won’t blow your legs, however this can come with experience. If you’ve trained by power or heart rate, you should have a good indication of what you can sustain.

If you’re not sure how hard you should be working, try to avoid going over 85% of your maximum heart rate, even on the steepest of hills, as otherwise you’ll eat too much into your glycogen stores. Be wary of the fact that your body has limited glycogen and you can never eat or drink enough to make up for going too fast too soon.

With that in mind, pace yourself and feed yourself little and often.

Work on your technique

Make a habit of incorporating technique work into your general rides and devote time to refining your skills. A good idea for this would be to find a long, winding hill and time yourself going down several times – work out how you can go quicker by laying off the brakes at certain points of the run and leaning into corners, as well as teaching yourself when to put the power back on. Practise with a riding buddy on quiet roads so you can see oncoming traffic.

Remember – you can’t always make up for poor climbing by flying downhill. Practise in a group and shelter from the wind, as fundamentally, the more comfortable you are riding within a close formation, the more time you can save. There are tactics to learn here though, so take on some local road races to put it into practise.

Build muscle power

When your body breaks down carbohydrate for fuel, lactic acid is produced, which means lactate gets into your blood and thus affects your muscle performance.

Working on your power will help to raise your lactate threshold, which is the point at which lactate starts to accumulate faster than you can disperse it. Power work will also help increase the amount of force you can put into each pedal stroke, and is great for increasing your endurance too.

Learn to be fuel efficient

To put it simply – you need to drink when you’re riding in order to replace the water you’re sweating and breathing out. However, for longer rides and for the event, use drinks to help provide fuel. It can be bad news when your body cannot get the energy it needs and refuses to cooperate!

Experiment in your training – try taking on different fluids, particularly those that contain electrolytes, as these will speed up the delivery of fluid to your body. Go for a drink that you like the taste of, therefore you’re more inclined to drink enough. Take on plenty of fluids prior to your training rides and during the event, so that you start off fully hydrated. After your rides, drink little and often in order to aid recovery – don’t wait until your thirsty!

Take breaks

It is often said that you don’t just get fitter from riding, but you get fitter when you recover. Make sure you have at least one day a week without any exercise, or more if you’ve over stretched yourself.

Avoid injury

When you step up the amount of riding you do in your training, you’ll be putting more stress and strain on your body. Don’t be tempted to ignore those niggles in order to stick with your training programme – riding through pain is one great way to turn minor problems into something major.

Take any injury seriously – take time off the bike and incorporate a different type of training, such as cross=training.  Should it be a biomechanical problem, perhaps get your riding position looked at by an expert and if you feel necessary, go and see a health professional. Just don’t ignore a potentially bad injury whilst it’s still in that niggle stage.

Enjoy it!

All in all – the most important thing is that your training is enjoyable, and you feel ready for the test on Sunday 21st May. See you on the start line!