There are as many cycling training programs as there are trainers, but certain basic "rules of thumb" can be used to help you develop your own personal program for that upcoming event - usually a century or longer - but this program works for shorter distances as well.


  • Before beginning a regimented training program, develop a base of at least 500 miles of easy rides. (If you have a good winter or off season training program, you can pare down this requirement.)
  • Once you have your training base, calculate your average weekly mileage, and then plan to increase it by no more than 10 - 12% per week. This includes both total weekly mileage as well as the distance of your long ride. (This 10 to 12% figure was developed from marathon training to minimize musculoskeletal injuries. Bicycling is easier on the joints and muscles, implying that this figure might be pushed.)
  • It's important to ride at least 5 days a week, and take at least one day off (but no more than two). Depending on your level of training (or evidence of overtraining) the seventh day is either an additional intermediate mileage day or an additional rest day. For example:
    • one long mileage day
    • one short mileage day
    • 3 or 4 intermediate mileage days
    • 1 or 2 rest days off the bike
  • Plan your short mileage day to follow the high mileage day. It should be about 1/4 of the length of the long ride. Done at a leisurely pace, it can help to loosen up your muscles after your long ride of the week.
  • The intermediate mileage days should be midway between the short ride and the long ride of the week in mileage. One or two of these should be interval training rides.
  • The long mileage day is keyed to the length of the event or ride for which you are training. Some coaches suggest you work up to the length (or even 125% of the length) of the event while others feel that reaching 75% of the event distance is adequate. This is usually a Saturday ride (with Sunday as a backup for bad weather or other unexpected circumstance that could derail your training program).
  • The final high mileage day of your training program (the week before the event) should be at least 75% of the length of the planned event.
  • You can estimate the length of your training program by using your "average" long ride from your 500 mile base training period, increasing it by 10% a week, and repeating this until you arrive at a figure that is 75% (3/4) of the length of the event for which you are training.
  • Be flexible and adjust your program to your lifestyle. A rigid program is destined to fail.
  • As far as pace of your rides:
    • the long ride should match your own planned century speed
    • the short "recovery" ride should be a leisurely pace at no more than 50-60% of your maximum heart rate
    • two of the intermediate rides should be at the planned century pace
    • one of the intermediate rides, preferably prior to your day off the bike, should be at a brisk pace 2 - 3 mph faster than your planned century speed.





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