“I’d like to do Femme/Velo, but 100km? I don’t know if I can do that…”
I’ve heard this quite a bit lately. Two years ago I was saying the same thing. Hell, two years ago and I was beside myself with untamed joy when I did a 20-mile ride for the first time. And, I started with very little physical conditioning. But you won’t have to spend the next two years training for Femme/Velo. Why? Femme/Velo isn’t a race. The only prize you’re going to get when you cross the finish line is a cold beer! Femme/Velo is about getting on the ride, connecting with other women, and having fun. That being said, we don’t want anyone to go out and kill themselves.
If a 100km ride sounds daunting fear not! With the right training you can be ready for Femme/Velo in 8 weeks. And, you won’t have to make cycling your full time gig to do it, because let’s face it, we’re all busy. With the help of our friends at Bicycling magazine, and Goldilocks, we’ve put together this program that is designed for maximum benefit for those of you with busy schedules; three days a week of dedicated training and you’ll be ready for Femme/Velo 2014.
3 Workouts/3 Days a Week
The training rides are broken down into three types of focused workouts that will not only prepare you for Femme/Velo, but for longer rides later in the summer.
If you think you can skip the speed work and focus only on endurance, think again my friends. Speed work will help your endurance by raising your lactate threshold, the point at which your legs are hurting so bad you want to cry like a little girl. When you raise that threshold you’ll be able to peddle longer, harder, and faster before your body gives out. The goal with these workouts is to do 4 to 6 maximum effort intervals for 30 seconds to 2 minutes. On a scale of 1 to 10 on how hard you’re working, you want to be at a 10 during the interval periods. Recover by doing an easy spin for twice the amount of time. When you get better mix it up by doing it uphill or into a headwind (is there any other kind?).
Starting Point: Week one you’ll ride for a total of 30 minutes.
During these rides you want to aim for 2 to 4 intervals that are 15 to 30 minutes in duration. The intervals should be difficult enough to increase your breathing and raise your hear rate to 80 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate (MHR). On the 1 to 10 scale you should be reaching 8 to 8.5. Between intervals you’ll want to take a five to ten minute rest to let your heart rate recover. How does this brand of fun torture prepare you for a long distance ride? It will train your body to ride more briskly while maintaining a steady pace, and that is what a long distance ride is all about.
Starting Point: Your first week out, you’ll want to start with a 40 minute ride: two intervals of 15 minutes with a five minute warm up and five minute cool down.
Long Ride/Endurance Workout
This is what it’s all about: getting out on a stretch of road with nothing behind you and nothing ahead of you but more road. For some of us, the long ride is what we live for. And there is nothing quite like accomplishing that first century ride; it’s a huge physical and mental achievement, but ever more fun is the bragging rights. But you don’t want to straddle the saddle and head out for a sixty-mile ride your first week in. Endurance training builds you up slowly so that by week eight you’ll be able to ride a 60 mile ride no problem.
Starting Point: Your first week out you’ll want to start at 20 miles, or 1.5 to 2 hours at a steady pace that equates to 70 to 75 percent of your maximum heart rate (MHR). If you don’t have a heart rate monitor think of it this way: you should be able to carry on a conversation, but much more than that will get you winded.
Whatever you want to call it, you’ll learn the hard way how important it is if you leave it out of your training program. If you spend just fifteen minutes on your rest days or after a ride stretching, your body will thank you. Stretching reduces the risk of injury and the added flexibility will help for those long rides. We’ll be putting together a stretching workout designed for cyclists soon.
Tips for Making it Work
It’s hard to keep to a consistent routine when you’ve got other things going on and suddenly you realize that it’s Thursday and you need to do an hour out on the bike. Develop a schedule that works for you. As a single mom with a crazy schedule I can attest to the fact that it was difficult in the beginning to tell my kids that mom was going to ride her bike on such and such evenings. But, after a couple of weeks we got used to it and now they remind me when I need to get out and ride. Setting time for yourself, to take care of yourself will not only show your kids that it is important to do so, but you’ll be teaching them good habits and the importance of being healthy through exercise.
Don’t think you can do it alone? It’s always easier to workout when you’ve someone else there to nudge you along when you don’t feel like working hard. As part of the lead up to Femme/Velo we’ll be doing some training rides and if you’re interested we can look at doing this 8-wk training program. I’m game!