As more and more people take to two wheels for their daily commute, it’s only natural that there is a corresponding rise in the popularity of cycling events. New sportives are springing up every year and 2017 is littered with outstanding cycling events taking place all over the UK.
Clearly, tackling a sportive is very different to riding 10K to the the office and back, but if you’re a regular rider it should only take a couple of months’ training to get up to speed for a 100-mile (161km) event. For advice on how to train for your first sportive, we spoke to Mike Gluckman from Haute Route, which runs multi-day cycling events for amateurs all over the world.
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How many weeks of training do you need for a 100-mile sportive?
It naturally follows that the less fit you are when starting, the more time it will take you to build up to 100 miles, but for someone whose cycling entails a short commute to and from work I’d recommend at least six to eight weeks of preparation.
How long should your longest training rides be?
There should be a gradual build-up throughout your training programme to take you closer to the full length of the event. There’s no point in going out in week one and trying to do 90 miles if your previous longest ever ride was ten.
A good idea is to add five to eight miles to your long ride each week until you reach about 85-90% of the length of your event. Just like when you’re training for a marathon, you don’t necessarily need to go out and do the full distance in training. By riding close to the full distance you also won’t compromise your future training by completely tiring yourself out.
How many sessions a week should you do?
The amount of rides you can squeeze into your week will depend on your lifestyle but if you have enough free time, I’d recommend three sessions a week with at least one being a longer ride.
It’s crucial to ensure your training matches the requirements of the event and includes steady progression. Also, as we tell riders taking part in our Haute Route events, remember to leave time to recover and taper [decrease your training volume before the event to avoid fatigue] before the event itself.
What kind of sessions should you do?
There are broadly three types of sessions which are useful to most riders:
- Long rides – 2½-3hr or more at a fairly low intensity, interval sessions.
- 1-2hr with several 8- to 15-minute intervals at a high intensity.
- Hilly rides which provide a natural interval session. If there aren’t any hills close to home, you can always use your gear selection to simulate the inclines.
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Should you try to do a shorter event first?
It is a good idea because it allows you to practise your race-day strategy and get used to the atmosphere of an event – riding in a group, using the feed stations and managing your effort in race conditions.
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Don’t stress if you can’t do an event beforehand though – you can always simulate it on a weekend ride instead.
Haute Route is cycling’s first global series of multi-day cyclosportives for amateurs. For more information, visit hauteroute.org.