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  1. #1
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    Counch to century?

    I am a recreational bicycle rider. I am fairly out of shape and overweight (~15 lbs). I have fallen in love with cycling and I'd love to start training for a century. I have read a bunch of stuff online, but it seems that most articles assume starting out fairly fit. Can someone help me find a good training schedule? Or make some recommendations about how to get bicycle fit? Even if I do not decide to do a century, I would still like to get in great cardiovascular shape so that when I do decide to do a century, I won't be starting out "from the couch."

    I am new to these forums and I have looked around a bit in the hopes that I wouldn't ask something that had been covered extensively before. I apologize if I am asking something you've already dealt with.

    Thank you in advance.

    And, obviously, I meant "couch to century." Should've previewed.
    Last edited by sneakin; 05-12-07 at 07:35 AM.

  2. #2
    Craig A. Lebowitz lebowitz's Avatar
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    I am also working my way up to a century this season and 20+ lbs overweight. I commute 3 miles round trip, so I wasn't exactly on the couch at the start. But 5 weeks ago I started doing a 20 mi training look 4-5 days a week. Now my long rides are 50-60 mi and I can complete them mostly comfortably.

    I think bike fit is very important when you get started, so have it done by a pro or someone who knows what he's doing. I had my saddle too far back for a while and narrowly avoided IT band injury.

  3. #3
    Fattest Thin Man Az B's Avatar
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    Ride more.

    It really is that simple. Start with shorter rides and work your way up gradually to longer rides. Listen to your body. Ride hard when you feel good, but take some days to goof around.

    When you can ride 65-75 miles without too many issues, you will be able to manage 100. If you hurry the process you will probably injure yourself.

    Az

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    Aut Vincere Aut Mori Snuffleupagus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Az B
    Ride more.

    It really is that simple. Start with shorter rides and work your way up gradually to longer rides. Listen to your body. Ride hard when you feel good, but take some days to goof around.

    When you can ride 65-75 miles without too many issues, you will be able to manage 100. If you hurry the process you will probably injure yourself.

    Az
    Simple as that.

    Unless you've got a pre-existing medical condition, or develop one while training there is no need to get as amped up about training for a century as people get for marathons.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Snuffleupagus
    Simple as that.

    Unless you've got a pre-existing medical condition, or develop one while training there is no need to get as amped up about training for a century as people get for marathons.
    Thanks everyone!

    So, it sounds like I should ignore suggestions for traning such as this and just do "ride more" approach. That article had me thinking I needed to have a fairly regimented training schedule.

    Thanks again.

  6. #6
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    From everything I've read, it seems to be a fairly general consensus that you should have around 500 base training miles before starting to do intervals because you run a much higher chance of injury.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sneakin
    Thanks everyone!

    So, it sounds like I should ignore suggestions for traning such as this and just do "ride more" approach. That article had me thinking I needed to have a fairly regimented training schedule.

    Thanks again.
    Yep. Those are basically for people who have some base miles, but want to ramp up fast. For now just work on riding more and getting comfortable with longer rides. In the course of doing this it is also important to work on eating/drinking on longer rides.

    Once you get that down you can start doing interval type training which will help to get your speed higher on centuries. BUt there is no point in working on speed when you don't yet have the endurance.

    -D

  8. #8
    部門ニ/自転車オタク NomadVW's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sneakin
    So, it sounds like I should ignore suggestions for traning such as this and just do "ride more" approach. That article had me thinking I needed to have a fairly regimented training schedule.
    Many regimented training approaches that focus on working all the muscular and cardio systems will certainly improve your ability to do things on the bike. But what it really comes down to is asking yourself what your goal is. It also depends on how quickly you want to reach that goal.

    Many folks use the approach that you shouldn't increase the distance you ride by more than about 10% per week. So if you can handle a long ride of 10 miles, the next week it can be 11, then 12, etc... I personally think that would kinda take forever and most people could handle an increase of about 5 miles per week. (10, 15, 20, 25, etc... ) Then toss in 3-4 days at 5-6 miles, increasing by 1 mile per week. So it might look something like:

    4 days x 5 miles, 1 day x 10 miles
    4 days x 6 miles, 1 day x 15 miles
    4 days x 7 miles, 1 day x 20 miles, etc....

    I would say that 4 days mileage would never have to exceed 1 hr of training during the week, so if you can do 15 miles per hour for an hour, your top end of the 4 day/wk mileage shouldn't need to exceed 15 miles.

    At any point in this workout you feel like the long ride is just too much, take a week off without increasing the distance and repeat a week.

    Remember that REST is where you build strength.


    After 10 weeks it would be 4 days x 15 miles, 1 day x 60 miles. I think most here would agree that riding 60 miles is not much different than one hundred, it really becomes mostly mental and a$$ pain tolerance the first couple times you go longer than that.

    If you wanted to go those distances faster, then during those 4 days of the week, you could incorporate intervals that focused on a particular cardio workout or muscle system to break up the monotony. I would only do this 2 of the days of the week and not on the long day. Recovery is crucial. It's the most important part.

    Anyway, I'm not a coach or anything but this is probably what I would recommend to folks that wanted to get to century distance. Once you can get miles done, then it's time to start working on improving how well you can do the miles. That's when the pain... I mean fun... begins.
    Envision, Energize, Enable

  9. #9
    部門ニ/自転車オタク NomadVW's Avatar
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    Yeah.. Derath hit the nail too. Once you're out longer for an hour, nutrition and hydration become an overriding player in your ability to keep going. You can search the forums for "century" and "nutrition" and probably come up with a lot.
    Envision, Energize, Enable

  10. #10
    Aut Vincere Aut Mori Snuffleupagus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NomadVW
    Yeah.. Derath hit the nail too. Once you're out longer for an hour, nutrition and hydration become an overriding player in your ability to keep going. You can search the forums for "century" and "nutrition" and probably come up with a lot.
    Oatmeal Cream Pies?

  11. #11
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    Hey you guys, this is all so helpful. Thanks a lot! It's cool to be able to just drop myself into cycling and this community and get so much great guidance.

  12. #12
    fart knocker Oleanshoebox's Avatar
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    What the heck is a counch?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Oleanshoebox
    What the heck is a counch?

    I think he either meant Couch



    Or Conch



    I am gonna have to guess Option A

    -D

  14. #14
    Member sswartzl's Avatar
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    This has lots of good tips for training for a century (and more).

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oleanshoebox
    What the heck is a counch?
    See edit in my original post, where I indicated that I accidentally typed an "n" in the word "couch." Nothing against conches (as in plural of the shell, not the village in Brie), though.

    Thanks for the book rec, sswartzl.

  16. #16
    Senior Member willieb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Az B
    Ride more.

    It really is that simple. Start with shorter rides and work your way up gradually to longer rides. Listen to your body. Ride hard when you feel good, but take some days to goof around.

    When you can ride 65-75 miles without too many issues, you will be able to manage 100. If you hurry the process you will probably injure yourself.

    Az
    +1 100%
    ~willieb

  17. #17
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    My article on riding a century is geared toward people who have never ridden a century or who are still on their first few, and are wanting some suggestions on how to make it easier:

    http://www.machka.net/century.htm

  18. #18
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    Another option is Team in Training. You have to commit to raising funds for the Leukemia Society, but in return you are a member of a team, with coaches (nothing professional, but experienced cyclists), a training plan and lots of support. They also pay the travel and lodging costs for the event itself. For me, it has been a great way to get ready for a long ride when I hadn't been riding much. Having support early in the season, when I was clearly in much worse shape than everyone else on the team, got me over a hump I might not have otherwise gotten over. There are also other similar programs, but TnT is the best known.

    JB

  19. #19
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    Over the winter I was on a diet and trying to get fit, and found a spin class I loved at the local Y (great instructor makes all the difference). I started it for the cardio, and stayed because it kicked my ass far more than any other class I tried.

    After a few months of that, I went on my first outdoor bike ride the other week, just for recreation. I was completely astonished at how far and how fast I could go, and the amount of energy I had in reserve for the ride. I blew by all my previous records.

    Riding for endurance is key, but takes time. Personally, I can only go on long rides on the weekends, usually just on one because of everything else that needs doing on the weekend. Spin class takes an hour, once or twice a week after work. I still go religiously, and it helps a LOT.

    Just a couple cents from my own experience.

    Oh, and I dropped 40 pounds and am now slightly below my target weight.

  20. #20
    Pat
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    As for training, I think most people make the mistake of doing a weekend based exercise schedule. The more riding or aerobic training you can do during the week the better.

    Do not expect fast results in your training. Be patient. It is important to push yourself on some of your rides. It is not a good idea to make each and every ride a hard effort. Do some recovery rides.

    When riding a century, remember not to push yourself too hard. Pacing is what century riding is about. I have known strong riders who have never ridden a century because they do not know how to pace themselves. I know people who have done centuries with virtually no training. They just go out and ride slowly until it is done. It is best to ride a mile an hour or two slower than your pace for a 30 mile ride. If you find that you have lots of energy at the 80 mile point, well then you can pick up the pace and finish strong.

    On centuries, I sometimes stop just once or twice and sometimes as many as five times. It is nice to stop and get a snack, relieve oneself and get the weight off of the contact points. But it is generally good to make the stops brief. I find it hard to get the body going again if it decides, after a long stop, that it is done for the day.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by sswartzl
    This has lots of good tips for training for a century (and more).
    I'll second the recommendation for the Complete Book Long Distance Cycling. I started out with a seven week schedule that was printed in Cooking Light Magazine a few years ago - that got me to 25 miles for my long ride. Then I used the information in that book and extended their 10 week program out to the 18 weeks I have left before my first century (on August 4th), fingers crossed that it works.

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