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I have been road biking for about 6 months now (before that mostly running and gym.) I signed up for a 300km race (mostly flat), and my goal is to pass it in 9h. My current level of biking is 90km in 3h (alone). The race is in June so I have plenty of time.

I find it hard to optimize my training. There seems to be many different schools:

  • Intervals intervals intervals.
  • Distance distance and more distance.
  • Mix

So I'm a well trained bicycle beginner that want to maximize the improvement in 6 months. Obviously I don't want to be injured or overtrained.

Anyone have any recommendations? or reference (publications?) How many pass/weak? Gym? Intensity?

Probably many of you have been in my situation before. And yes, btw the training for the coming three month will be on a trainer, since it is winter.

I have pulse watch, cadence meter, speed meter, and a build in power meter. The trainer is a tacx i-flow and I have signed up for trainingroad.

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    I guess we're talking about road biking, not mountain biking? Could you please clarify on this, also by applying the respective tag? – Benedikt Bauer Dec 5 '14 at 11:25
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    Above that, how to best train might also depend on the type of course you will ride. Will the race course be basically 300km flat or is there also some serious elevation gain involved? – Benedikt Bauer Dec 5 '14 at 11:31
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    Just ride. Don't obsess over having a highly detailed "plan". – Daniel R Hicks Dec 5 '14 at 12:35
  • sorry edited now – Johan Dec 5 '14 at 15:20
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Training plans are all well and good, but the first goal is to be able to ride 9 hrs.

There is no substitute for doing long rides to prepare to do a long ride. In my experience, for just developing pure endurance you get 80-90% of your training effect from a long ride. The rest of your training should be focused around reducing the recovery time to enable you to do your next long ride. There are also lot's of logistics around eating and drinking for 9hrs on the bike that you'll have to figure out as well and there is simply no way to know what will work for you without getting some 5-6 hr rides as practice.

Given that you'll be inside the next 3 months, you should probably focus on consistency with some intensity work. Do as much cross training as you can. It's very hard mentally to do significant endurance training on trainer. If you can find another activity like XC skiing or a similar winter endurance sport, that would be beneficial. The most important part over the winter is to stay consistant and to not mentally burn out. You want to be raring to go when the weather gets good, not disgusted with riding due to burning out on the trainer. Going to the gym to work on flexibility and core strength is also a good winter activity. 9hr rides will make muscles painful that you normally don't notice riding.

Once the weather gets nice start working towards a regular extra long ride at least every 2 weeks, every week would be good if you recovering in that time. Start at 3 hrs and add a half hour until you start to reach a point where you can't recover in time for the next ride. Stay there for a while until you're ready to make the next increment. You'll know you're ready to move to the next level when you're excited to do a long ride, if it starts to feel like a job or an obligation, that's the time to step back.

Endurancing training is as much about managing recovery as it is actually training. People with the mindset to enjoy endurance sports rarely have trouble with training, but they almost all struggle with overtraining. Learning when to push through and when to back off takes a very long time. As a relative beginner, I'd urge you to err on the side of caution. Taking a rest week every now and then should be part of your plan. Taking a week off will not significantly affect your fitness at all and might provide suprising benefits. Overtraining that extra week can destroy months of training with injury and illness.

300 km in 9 hrs is a very ambitious goal. If you want to be confident I would want to be doing training rides of at least 6 hrs, 7 or 8 hrs would be better.

You'll also need to taper at some point before the event. Plan on at least 2-3 weeks of reduced effort leading up to the race.

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    Good advice. Except for the indoors bit. Ride outside. I know several very successful endurance riders who rarely ride intervals. The most successful one I know recommends volume over quantity. He thinks you are better off doing a 10 hour ride once a week with maybe some commuting thrown in that riding 2 hours daily for a week. – Deleted User Dec 5 '14 at 22:05
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    Yeah, ride outdoors if at all possible, but that may not be realistic. There are very few people with enough dedication to ride the trainer as their only winter training. Run or just walk, time spent exericising is much more important than what you are actually doing. I very much agree with the one 10hr vs 2hr every day, but that's something you have to work up to over years of training. – Fred the Magic Wonder Dog Dec 5 '14 at 23:41
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    Long distance endurance training is actually much easier than I thought. Some of the hardest parts are learning how to fuel and hydrate and what gear to bring/use. The rest is just finding the time to ride. I finished my first 100 mile snow race on only 6 months or so of training. I've never had excellent results, but I've got plenty of finishes. You'll never be competitive starting out, but get enough long rides in and you have a almost guaranteed chance to finish. – Deleted User Dec 5 '14 at 23:55
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    Yep, all good advice. The only thing I'd add is to plan to take a train trip a couple of times in the winter, to someplace he can do a solid ride. It would give variation, intermediate goals, test his logistics for long rides, and test his recovery approach. – andy256 Dec 6 '14 at 8:01
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    Great advises! I will try to go for a couple of trainer exercises every week? what do you think, is trainer intervals better then running distance for example? What count as a distance btw? 2h will not be so much of a problem... but 3h+ will probably be :) – Johan Dec 7 '14 at 22:12
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A perfect book for beginners in training is Joe Friel's "Cyclist's training bible". The main point he makes in his book is training periodization i.e. changing the volume and intensity of training depending on when you want your peak to occur. In your case this is simple as you have a single goal. In general the rule is: low intensity, high volume through the winter and early spring, more intensity over spring and specialist training in the weeks before the race. Of course in each period you need also other types of training but in smaller amounts.

Training is quite an individual thing, so I wouldn't give any specific advice on your training plan. Every body reacts in a different way to given exercises and numerous aspects matter when you start your training, especially in higher intensity. Therefore the best thing you can do is try some exercises yourself and see how they work for you.

As for the training devices, basic parameters to watch during training are heart rate and cadence. If your power meter actually measures power (for example in the cranks, pedals or hub), than you can use it instead of heart-rate monitor. If it's only a function estamating your power in the bike computer then it's definitely not reliable enough.

Power measurements tend to be more accurate than heart-rate monitors, and their response to intensity change is immediate. Therefore they are much more reliable during short intervals. Also power data is more impartial as heart rate may vary a bit day-to-day. The down side is that determining your training zones for a power meter is more complex and time-consuming than for a pulse-monitor.

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  • Thanks, low intensity sounds reasonable! but how do I know if I bicycle to little or to much? What to look out for? Intervals are easy because you just give 100% In low intensity you could often do another hour? – Johan Dec 5 '14 at 15:23
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    The rule of the thumb isfor endurance disciplines to make stamina trainings around half the race time. This is not always possible, especially for longer events, but all trainings longer than 90mins are thought of as stamina trainings. Also for intervals you don't always do them at 100% intensity as your intervals are to vary in length. If you haven't done it yet, determine your heart rate zones as described here: home.trainingpeaks.com/blog/article/… It takes an entire book to explain heart-rate training, but this is the very thing to start with. – Slovakov Dec 5 '14 at 15:39
  • great information! I will check that out! When I do distance traning 2-4h? what level should I be in? – Johan Dec 5 '14 at 15:59
  • It should be Zone 2 or 3, depending on how long your effort is. – Slovakov Dec 5 '14 at 16:01

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