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Century Training for the Busy Working Parent

Old 07-16-09, 10:54 AM
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jelliotwells
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Century Training for the Busy Working Parent

I searched the forums to see if there were any specific training regimens for people trying to balance the whole work/family thing (which I am sure is the majority of folks on the forums). I have two little ones (4 and 2) and while I have tried to set them up on road bikes they just can't seem to keep up with me (just kidding of course). Seriously, I do most of my road riding in the early, and I mean early mornings, starting at 5 or 5:30 am, but this does not give me enough time to get in more than 50-60 miles if I want to ensure I get back home by 8 or 9 am. During the week I ride to and from work most days, which is about 16 miles in total and sometimes I will ride my road bike in the early morning to supplement the miles. The weekends are of course tougher to put in consecutive days of riding and to justify being away for 4+ hours. My questions are:

1 Are there specific training plans that are suited for those who don't have as much time to train?
2 Can you get away with riding only one day on the weekend
3 Can you get away with alternating long ride weekends, (i.e. - ride a long ride one weekend and ride only a 20-30 mile ride the following weekend, then increase your mileage the weekend after that ultimately building up to the century) - this is what a lot of marathon training programs outline.

My goals are:
1 To ride one century this October
2 To ride it at a good pace (16-18 mph)
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Old 07-16-09, 11:57 AM
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#3 sounds reasonable to me. At 16 to 18 mph, you'll need between 5.5 and 6.25 hours to finish. I think if you can get your long ride up to 4.5 to 5 hours, you're ready to go.
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Old 07-16-09, 12:07 PM
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Jim from Boston
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Originally Posted by jelliotwells View Post
I searched the forums to see if there were any specific training regimens for people trying to balance the whole work/family thing (which I am sure is the majority of folks on the forums)...My questions are:

1 Are there specific training plans that are suited for those who don't have as much time to train?
2 Can you get away with riding only one day on the weekend
3 Can you get away with alternating long ride weekends, (i.e. - ride a long ride one weekend and ride only a 20-30 mile ride the following weekend, then increase your mileage the weekend after that ultimately building up to the century) - this is what a lot of marathon training programs outline.

My goals are:
1 To ride one century this October
2 To ride it at a good pace (16-18 mph)
Here's my perennial post on that subject. Let me know if you find it useful; for me it makes my nice weather riding season:

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 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
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Old 07-16-09, 12:14 PM
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Jim, do you find you're able to complete either program as written? I would think that over a ten-week period you would have certain days or even weeks were you just couldn't follow the program. I wonder if a better program might have some built-in flexibility. Instead of specifying specific mileage totals, we could list a range of miles, perhaps as a percentage of that week's long ride. What do you think?
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Old 07-16-09, 12:25 PM
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My 2 cents.

I ride Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

One ride a week is 55 to 100 miles. This is done on Saturday or Sunday during the early AM and is completed by Lunchtime.

Two rides a week are 36 miles each, done in two hours

One ride a week in interval training. After a 7 mile warm-up, I'll sprint up a hill for 60 seconds at 20 mph and 120 cadence. I'll then ride slowly for 5 minutes, I'll sprint up the same hill for 60 seconds at 20 mph and 120 cadence. I'll then ride slowly for 5 minutes... I'll do 5 cycles. and travel 7 miles to ride home.

I could cut back and still do a century at any time.

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Old 07-16-09, 01:01 PM
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Originally Posted by dunningrb View Post
Jim, do you find you're able to complete either program as written? I would think that over a ten-week period you would have certain days or even weeks were you just couldn't follow the program. I wonder if a better program might have some built-in flexibility. Instead of specifying specific mileage totals, we could list a range of miles, perhaps as a percentage of that week's long ride. What do you think?
Thanks for your reply. I guess I am a pretty goal-driven rider and I like having such a specified program to follow. There are times when I do have to rearrange things to get the miles in, and it requires me to prioritize my time and activities. I even have an "excuse" column in my training spreadsheet. Usually it is something work-related that detracts from the miles. Like the OP I am an early morning commuter and this makes it all possible. Even my long week-end ride is often a long loop to my workplace.

This is the first year I have adapted to riding in the rain, and it has been a historically wet spring, yet on the worst week, I surpassed the quota, so another barrier has fallen.

FYA, I have attached a chart of my current mileage. The blue bars are the weekly recommended miles, the brown bars are my actual mileage, and the yellow line is my usual 80 mile per week commute. The century week is week 10, and I have decided to try and maintain my weekly mileage at week 6 to retain the fitness level I have achieved. As you see I do what I can. In late August, I'll again escalate for a late September century.
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Training graph v.2.doc (52.5 KB, 20 views)
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Old 07-16-09, 03:08 PM
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Commuting is a time saving way to get miles. I commute 45 minutes each way, but I would spend 20 minutes in the car anyway. 40 minutes free training every day. You can make it work out, somehow--commute part, drive part if you must.
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Old 07-16-09, 03:30 PM
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Originally Posted by jelliotwells View Post
I searched the forums to see if there were any specific training regimens for people trying to balance the whole work/family thing (which I am sure is the majority of folks on the forums). I have two little ones (4 and 2) and while I have tried to set them up on road bikes they just can't seem to keep up with me (just kidding of course). Seriously, I do most of my road riding in the early, and I mean early mornings, starting at 5 or 5:30 am, but this does not give me enough time to get in more than 50-60 miles if I want to ensure I get back home by 8 or 9 am. During the week I ride to and from work most days, which is about 16 miles in total and sometimes I will ride my road bike in the early morning to supplement the miles. The weekends are of course tougher to put in consecutive days of riding and to justify being away for 4+ hours. My questions are:

1 Are there specific training plans that are suited for those who don't have as much time to train?
2 Can you get away with riding only one day on the weekend
3 Can you get away with alternating long ride weekends, (i.e. - ride a long ride one weekend and ride only a 20-30 mile ride the following weekend, then increase your mileage the weekend after that ultimately building up to the century) - this is what a lot of marathon training programs outline.

My goals are:
1 To ride one century this October
2 To ride it at a good pace (16-18 mph)
My situation is a lot like yours--job, wife, two kids, some semblance of a life... Also like you, I have a daily round trip commute of about 16 miles which I do by bicycle almost every day, year round. That's a good chunk of my training right there. In addition to my commute I do a long ride (60 - 125 miles) nearly every weekend and always try to leave at a time that gets me home by noon. That sometimes means leaving well before the sun's up if I'm trying to fit in 200k (sucks in the winter). So my training schedule is pretty much what you suggested, except my weekend rides are a little longer.

Even if you can't do more than 50 - 60 miles on weekends, a century shouldn't be a problem. Just make the most of that commute time. Do intervals on your way home from work a couple times a week, find a hillier route if you can. You may want to try to squeeze in at least one longer ride on a weekend, like 80 miles or so, but even if you never get in more than 60 miles a century won't kill you.
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Old 07-17-09, 08:34 AM
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All extremely helpful information. I really appreciate all the advice. I have started working in some interval training on my commutes and it seems to have some noticeable benefits. I will take a hard look at the two schedules posted and see if it is something I can fit into my schedule. I have shown an ability and willingness to get up early to do rides, much to my own surprise. Hopefully I can maintain this discipline as that will allow me to complete a training regimen and maintain relationships at home and at work.
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Old 07-17-09, 08:57 AM
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Hi JW,

Even if you just rode 30 miles every third day and did 2, 75 miles rides per month, you should be ready and able to do a Century.

Don't overestimate your fitness needs if completing a Century is your primary goal. Most healthy cyclist who ride 80 miles a week, 30 weeks a year can complete a Century without any extra preparation.

Enjoy!

Michael
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Old 07-17-09, 09:01 AM
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I think that 5-6 days per week riding 20-30 miles per day with the occasional 60 mile ride will get you to a condition that will allow you to comfortably complete a century.
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Old 07-17-09, 11:50 AM
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1 Are there specific training plans that are suited for those who don't have as much time to train?
Just about all training plans attempt to maximize an increase in fitness over time spent training, so the implication of your post that seeks to find the "best" training plan for a given amount of time is specious.

In other words, there is no such thing as a "busy person's" training plan.



Okay, try to follow along. What you really want to do is incorporate enough activities in your daily routine that can transfer to cycling stamina to allow for riding a successful century. Of course, the simpler way to do this is to ride your bicycle a lot.

Yet, there are dozens if not hundreds of similar activities that you can perform at a moment's notice to increase your overall everyday stamina. These can be anything from walking the stairs briskly to cutting the grass with tempo.

Your task, is to understand your own strengths and weaknesses and adjust life and demands accordingly. Simply eating better, keeping a healthy attitude toward sleep and family demands will go along way in bringing about a natural level of fitness - and a resulting capability of completing a century in style.

Good Luck.
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Old 07-17-09, 09:59 PM
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Originally Posted by jelliotwells View Post
I searched the forums to see if there were any specific training regimens for people trying to balance the whole work/family thing (which I am sure is the majority of folks on the forums). I have two little ones (4 and 2) and while I have tried to set them up on road bikes they just can't seem to keep up with me (just kidding of course). Seriously, I do most of my road riding in the early, and I mean early mornings, starting at 5 or 5:30 am, but this does not give me enough time to get in more than 50-60 miles if I want to ensure I get back home by 8 or 9 am. During the week I ride to and from work most days, which is about 16 miles in total and sometimes I will ride my road bike in the early morning to supplement the miles. The weekends are of course tougher to put in consecutive days of riding and to justify being away for 4+ hours. My questions are:

1 Are there specific training plans that are suited for those who don't have as much time to train?
2 Can you get away with riding only one day on the weekend
3 Can you get away with alternating long ride weekends, (i.e. - ride a long ride one weekend and ride only a 20-30 mile ride the following weekend, then increase your mileage the weekend after that ultimately building up to the century) - this is what a lot of marathon training programs outline.

My goals are:
1 To ride one century this October
2 To ride it at a good pace (16-18 mph)
Whether you can ride 16-18 mph depends a lot on the century and whether you ride with anybody. If it's your first century, I recommend not to set any pace goals, since doing it is enough of a goal for the first one. If it's flat and/or there are flat spots where you can paceline, maybe.

I did a pretty hilly (4000') century in June riding two nights a week for 20-35 miles and 35-45 one day on the weekend. And did okay, except for being sick. I'm going to ride RAMROD (150 miles, 10,000') in a couple of weeks on just a little more training.

The key is to be specialized. If you are working on aerobic base, you need to ride in the aerobic range. If you are working on anaerobic, you do intervals until you get tired. If you want to work on your lactic threshold, you might do a specific threshold workout. etc. etc.

I'm not a big fan of the "slowly build up your distance" century training approaches. They undoubtably work, but it doesn't make sense to me to do an 80 and then a 90 - if you can ride 80 miles in a day, why not just ride the 100 and get it over with?

I do think it's a good idea to get a couple of 60 mile rides in so you can work on your hydration and nutrition plan.
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