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  1. #1
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    Training regimen for century?

    I searched first, but to my surprise didn't come up with anything helpful. I would have thought there would be a ton of stuff on this topic.

    I need to prep for a century ride in about 5 weeks. I do a moderate amount of biking - 3K in 2008 - and have continued to ride through the winter, albeit on a less frequent basis than in the warm-weather months. I have never done a century before, but do typically ride a few longer rides each summer in the 60-80mile range. So, in other words, it's not like the impossible dream - I do have some conditioning for longer distance riding.

    Looking for a good training regimen to get me ready. I'm sure personal anecdotes would be interesting, but I am looking more for a reference to a program with some scientific basis or developed by someone with some credentials and background. A program that would be comprehensive in terms of the riding part of the preparation as well as the nutritional part would be a bonus. Anyone know of a good resource? Thanks.

  2. #2
    Pat
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    Machka has a site with a training plan.

    Riding centuries really is not that hard. It is all about knowing your limits. I have seen really strong riders go out really hard and fast and be done after 50-60 miles. I did that myself once up in Leelanau County MI. I attacked every hill (and there were a bunch) for the first 60 miles and after that it was really tough. I did not do that one again. And I was in great shape too. I have seen pretty average riders pace themselves and finish a century pretty well. The trick is to ride about 1-2 mph slower than you would for a 30-40 mile ride.

    As for training, the more days per week that you can do aerobic exercise the better. The more of that exercise that is cycling the better. Just exercising on weekends just does not cut it.

    Try to get in a number of rides of over 70 miles. You have done that which is great.

    Now, I can get up in the morning and ride 70 miles without eating nuthin. But before a century, I eat something light like a piece of toast, a banana, and an orange. I usually stop at SAG stops and eat fruit early on and shift to the sweets towards the end. I have ridden centuries doing only one stop though. As far as what to eat, that varies with the person. I like fruit, pretzels, fig newtons, and yes cookies. I do not drink energy bars or sports drinks. I have taken electrolyte replacement pills and those seem to work ok or at least they did no harm.

    My first century was years ago. It was from Lansing to Flint and back again. It was set up as a 50 mile ride with people from Lansing and Flint meeting at the halfway point and going back. It had a century option and I rode with about a dozen people who were doing it. We had a head wind over to Flint. At Flint they had hotdogs for us. Hotdogs!?! As if anyone wants to ride another 50 miles with a couple of dogs in them. But at Flint, they could not have been more impressed if we came from Mars. "You rode all the way from Lansing!?! They lined us up and took a photo of us and put it in the paper.

    The wind shifted into our face on the way back. I pulled away from the group and was by myself when I got hit by a line of thunderstorms. I swore I was not going to stop. The wind blew. I went on. The rain came. I went on. The rain came in sheets. I went on. Then huge hailstones came down and I stopped and got on the porch of a farmhouse and waited out the storm. I may be nuts but not THAT nuts.

    I hooked up with another guy and we shifted pulls. We heard from riders coming the other way that the SAG stop up ahead was pulling up stakes and had COOKIES. We tore down the road and got some cookies. A minor victory.

    After that, I hooked up with the group again and rode into East Lansing. The wind really got strong. I cleared the Red Cedar river and had even though it was flat, I was in my low gear when I rode into the parking lot. I have done bunches of centuries since, but that was one of my most memorable.

    From the sounds of it, you should do fine. Have a good time.

  3. #3
    pedo viejo
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    +1, especially on getting in several rides in the 70-80 mile range before your event. Personally I like to try and taper before a century, so my last ride in the 80-mile range is about 14 days before the event.

    I find that if I set myself up with a nice relaxed spin in an easy gear from the start, the whole ride usually goes pretty well.

    Best of luck!

  4. #4
    But on the road more MTBLover's Avatar
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    I agree with the posters- just to stress, though: it's not important (or even necessarily advisable) for you to go 100 miles before the event. Keep your distance <=80, don't ride >70 during the week before, and relax at a steady pace you know you can keep for the first 60-70 miles or so. Couple that with some increasingly longer rides once/twice a week over the next several weeks- (this week, say 50; next week 60, etc.) and intersperse some hill training and shorter (20-30 miles) tempo rides, and you'll have no trouble.

    Good luck!

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    staring at the mountains superdex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ginsoakedboy View Post
    I need to prep for a century ride in about 5 weeks... I'm sure personal anecdotes would be interesting, but I am looking more for a reference to a program with some scientific basis or developed by someone with some credentials and background.
    There are a number of resources out there, and about all of them will be longer than 5 weeks in length. By the 5 week mark you should be riding three-four times a week, with your weekend long ride 50+mi....

    http://www.bicycling.com/article/0,6...9843-1,00.html

    and here's a 10-week program:
    http://www.bicycling.com/article/0,6...-324-1,00.html
    Last edited by superdex; 03-16-09 at 04:28 PM.

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    Thanks for the tips and resources. I'm worried about the pace issue, as I'm riding with a small group that has a couple of stronger riders. I'd better get cracking so I can ease up a little that final week. I figure that if I can force myself into condition for a century by the end of April, it's going to be a big year. Thanks again, all.

  7. #7
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pat View Post
    Machka has a site with a training plan.
    Yes, she does.

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

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    Senior Member telebianchi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ginsoakedboy View Post
    Thanks for the tips and resources. I'm worried about the pace issue, as I'm riding with a small group that has a couple of stronger riders. I'd better get cracking so I can ease up a little that final week. I figure that if I can force myself into condition for a century by the end of April, it's going to be a big year. Thanks again, all.
    In my very limited experience (one century each of the last two years, signed up for one on June 6 this year) keeping your own pace is key. The one I did last August I met up with a group that I had never ridden with - I knew them from off the bike. I was chatting with some folks for the first 8 to 10 miles but as they picked up some pace I just told them I would see them later and kept my own thing going.

    At the end of the century, we were all within about 20 minutes of each other's time but some of those that took off quicker than me were suffering a lot more. I mowed the lawn when I got home after a big post-ride meal.

    If you know there are some stronger riders in your group, just let them know up front that you're new to this and want to keep your own pace. They can ride with you or you understand if they want to go faster. Depending on the route and support, you might be able to plan to meet up at some of the rest stops along the way. If they are stronger riders but take a relaxed attitude about century events, they might not mind taking a longer rest brake and waiting up for you to get in.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Jim from Boston's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ginsoakedboy View Post
    I searched first, but to my surprise didn't come up with anything helpful. I would have thought there would be a ton of stuff on this topic.

    I need to prep for a century ride in about 5 weeks. I do a moderate amount of biking - 3K in 2008 - and have continued to ride through the winter, albeit on a less frequent basis than in the warm-weather months. I have never done a century before, but do typically ride a few longer rides each summer in the 60-80mile range. So, in other words, it's not like the impossible dream - I do have some conditioning for longer distance riding.

    Looking for a good training regimen to get me ready. I'm sure personal anecdotes would be interesting, but I am looking more for a reference to a program with some scientific basis or developed by someone with some credentials and background. A program that would be comprehensive in terms of the riding part of the preparation as well as the nutritional part would be a bonus. Anyone know of a good resource? Thanks.
    I posted this to a smilar thread, "Recommended Training for Century Ride," though as you note it is a ten, rather than five week program, but is a standardized, presumably expert program.

    http://www.bikeforums.net/training-nutrition/492191-recommended-training-century-ride-post7974883.html

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
    I do a ten week training program that I saw published in BICYCLING MAGAZINE years ago, and retrieved from the Mt. Diablo Cycling Club website, though it has been removed the last time I looked. There are two variations, called Easy Century Training, or With Strength to Spare. I do the latter one, and it is about the most time I can spare to train. Fortunately I commute, so that's where I do it by lengthening my usual 14 mile distance. I find that the schedule motivates me to do keep up, and it's very satisfying to plug the data into my Excell spreadsheet and watch the charts expand.

    I don't consider myself a strong rider, but I did my best century (actually 107.5 miles because I got lost ;-) in 6:58 at about 15.4 mph, with about 40 miles in a paceline and about 60 miles solo. My modification of the plan is to make Sunday my rest day, and Saturday is my century day. This won't print on the Forum as a nice table, but I think you can figure it out:

    WITH STRENGTH TO SPARE:
    Mon. Tues. Wed. Thurs. Fri. Sat. Sun. Weekly
    Easy* Pace* Brisk* Pace* Pace* Pace* Mileage
    10 12 14 Off 12 40 15 103
    10 13 15 Off 13 44 17 112
    10 15 15 Off 15 48 18 123
    11 16 19 Off 16 53 20 135
    12 18 20 Off 18 59 22 149
    13 19 23 Off 19 64 24 162
    14 20 25 Off 20 71 27 177
    16 20 27 Off 20 75 27 177
    17 20 30 Off 20 75 32 194
    19 20 30 Off 10 5 Easy Century 184

    1,516

    EASY CENTURY TRAINING:
    Week Mon. Tues. Wed. Thurs. Fri. Sat. Sun. Weekly
    Easy* Pace* Brisk* Pace* Pace* Pace* Mileage
    1 6 10 12 Off 10 30 9 77
    2 7 11 13 Off 11 34 10 86
    3 8 13 15 Off 13 38 11 98
    4 8 14 17 Off 14 42 13 108
    5 9 15 19 Off 15 47 14 119
    6 11 15 21 Off 15 53 16 131
    7 12 15 24 Off 15 59 18 143
    8 13 15 25 Off 15 65 20 153
    9 15 15 25 Off 15 65 20 155
    Cent Week 15 15 25 Off 10 5 Easy Century 170

    1,240

  10. #10
    Senior Member Shimagnolo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    You expect us to believe that is your site? The saddle isn't a *Brooks*!!!

  11. #11
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shimagnolo View Post
    You expect us to believe that is your site? The saddle isn't a *Brooks*!!!
    Yeah, I know ... I really need to update that site.

    But when I wrote the article, I didn't have a Brooks and wasn't at all convinced about them. It wasn't till I developed sciatic pain in early 2004, that I finally broke down and bought a Brooks.

  12. #12
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    Thanks to Machka and the others of you for providing additional info. Looking at the 10 week charts, I figure that the amount of riding that I have already been doing ought to enable me to jump in at about week 5 -- so I'm encouraged. I also like the suggestion of laying the ground work with my riding group that I may want to drop off the back if the pace gets uncomfortable.

  13. #13
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    I made my century -- under absolutely horrid conditions -- beastly headwinds, pouring and driving rain, temps in the 40's. If it hadn't been so abysmal, I might have actually enjoyed the experience. As it is, I feel good about the accomplishment. Thanks again to all that helped out with info.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Jim from Boston's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ginsoakedboy View Post
    I made my century -- under absolutely horrid conditions -- beastly headwinds, pouring and driving rain, temps in the 40's. If it hadn't been so abysmal, I might have actually enjoyed the experience. As it is, I feel good about the accomplishment. Thanks again to all that helped out with info.
    Congratulations and thanks for the report. Those circumstances sound like they could discourage me from training for a century if I anticipated such a let-down. I had provided the above 10 week century training schedule from Bicycling Magazine earlier in this thread.

    Since all my riding is early AM, I don't feel like expanding my usual 14 mile route until I am assured of continuously reliable and inviting weather--not until May here in Boston IMO. So I need to start May 3 for my intended century on July 11, the Prouty ride in Hanover, NH. This is my first year into reading Bike Forums, and I have been inspired into riding in the rain on my beater bike, something I had assiduously avoided, so my training will be enhanced and I won't be totally stymied by bad weather on that day.

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