Training is not just for those that want to race. Training has benefits for all. I know people who have trained simply to go on a specific holiday and even a few who simply wanted to get to the pub and back. Whether you are a recreational cyclist or race 200km races every weekend the principles and approach to training are basically the same. It is usually time and personal commitment based upon personal objectives that differ.
If we all trained, we'd all get fitter, which is of course assuming each did the correct form of training and that's what this section is all about. We will highlight general and specific principles of training for cycling but will endeavour to personalise the technique to the various forms of cyclist there are. We will concentrate on three sectors of cyclist:
The first and most important thing to do before designing any training program for cycling is to answer the question," What do I want from cycling?" What you want out of the sport will determine what you have to put into it. This is because as with most things in life you can only get out what you put into it.
The basics of training programmes for each group
Most casual cyclists go out for very short and relatively slow pleasure rides, often with a spouse and/or the children. Some only ride on weekends while others may ride every day. For minimum basic fitness, you need to ride at least two to three times per week for at least forty minutes. The minimum could be something like Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday. You can move these days around to fit your life style. Any three days spread out during the week are fine and the minimum.
This is where you really need to start having at least some form of structure to your training. You should ride at least three to four days per week, and probably up to 100 miles per week. Let's say that you don't ride more than about 30 miles in one ride. Do from 10 to 30 miles on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday or some variation of that schedule. If you ride on Saturday, it should only be about 10 miles easy spinning to loosen your legs up for Sunday's ride.
You need a minimum of four to five days per week and anything between 100 and 200 miles per week. You need to do close to the distance you like to ride in tours or races on a regular basis. Your most important concern however will be the quality of your aerobic fitness. Remember that long is a relative term. If you like 50-mile rides, or your average race distance is 60 miles, your long Sunday rides should be 10-20% longer. You want more aerobic fitness than will be required by your tour or race so it will be easier and you will have more fun, though when the line is strung out and you're not the guy driving it, fun is probably not an appropriate word.
Above we talk about distance relative to training. Modern schools of thought suggest that as distance can be dependent upon so many factors outside your control, that the use of timed periods of training is more appropriate. This is the measurement for training that we therefore favour and will be used in conjunction with a reasonable emphasis is placed upon the use of heart rates as an effective method of measuring effort and therefore helping specificity of training and preventing over training. For a wide selection of the best heart rate monitors from POLAR, click the name.