h e l l w e e k . c o m Home Blog Your First Century
© Fit2Train and Brian Hasenbauer
Congratulations on your decision to train for a 100-mile bike ride!! Your first 100 mile ride can seem daunting when you first start out riding so I am going to try to keep it simple and easy to understand.
Increase Your Long Ride
The most important aspect of your century training is going to be your weekly long ride. The weekly long ride should be done at a conversational pace (you are not huffing and puffing and can talk to your friends or yourself if you are alone) and starting at a distance that’s 10 miles more than your longest ride within the last 4 weeks. So if your longest ride was 20 miles three weeks ago you would want to try riding 30 miles in the upcoming weekend. You can then increase this long ride by about 10 miles per week until you get up to about 80 or 90 miles. Basic math tells me that it would take about 5-6 weeks if you started at 30 miles to get to 80 or 90 miles on your long ride.
Week #1 30 miles
Week #2 40 miles
Week #3 50 miles
Week #4 60 miles
Week #5 70 miles
Week #6 80 miles
You want to be a little fatigued towards the end of the long rides only because the distance is getting longer, not because the pace is challenging. Just get your miles in and don’t worry too much about the pace. If you have enough weeks before the ride to train up to 100 miles you will get an added boost of confidence knowing that you can do the distance. Also, the more times that you can approach or exceed your goal distance the easier it will become. While training for the Ironman (112 mile bike portion) I will ride 100 + miles almost every weekend.
Nutrition for the Long Ride
After working with clients training for 100 mile rides for several years and having done more century rides that I can remember (I did 3 this week alone) the factor that I see causing the most problems is a lack of understanding regarding nutrition during training rides and races. The first thing to remember is that by the time you start to feel thirsty or hungry you are behind schedule for hydrating and eating.
Pre Ride Meal
This can be a relatively small meal since the primary purpose it to fill up your glycogen stores that are depleted from the prior days training or last nights sleep. This small meal should consist of foods that are high in carbohydrates and low in fat and protein. Even if you just eat a bagel and drink some orange juice this can do the trick. If you currently don’t eat breakfast, I recommend starting off with a bagel or piece of toast and a small glass of oj and see how that works. If your stomach can handle that and you don’t feel too full, add a small bottle of Gatorade or breakfast bar the next time. I usually eat while driving to the race or training so have gotten used to portable breakfast items like low-fat pop-tarts, bananas, Gatorade or bagels.
During the Ride
Set up a schedule that you stick to in regards to what to eat and when to it eat. How do you know what works for you? You experiment during your training rides. Besides getting your muscles and cardiovascular system trained for going a 100 miles you want to determine what energy your body requires for the ride and what you can tolerate and like the taste of. Lately I have come to think of my stops at the local gas station as small adventures in eating. At one rest stop I drank a V-8 and Ultra Slim Fast and took a pack of Tums, a 22-oz Pepsi One and 2 bottles of Gatorade with me for the rest of the ride. As you can see, I will eat or drink almost anything. I think some of this comes from knowing what my body requires during these long rides. For most people the biggest need is going to be staying hydrated (water or sports drink), getting enough calories and keeping your electrolyte levels balanced.
I try to stick to drinking at least one large water bottle per hour as a minimum and alternate water and sports drink. This rule of thumb of one bottle per hour is just a guideline. I recommend drinking every time you see someone else drink or drinking every x number of minutes. If this comes out to more than one bottle per hour and you don’t feel a sloshing in your stomach you should be okay. If you feel a sloshing or have to urinate more than once an hour you should cut back on your intake of fluids for about 15 minutes or so until you feel better.
In order to ride 100 miles you are going to need to consume enough carbohydrates during the ride to maintain your glycogen levels and continue to burn fat as your primary energy source. The main source of energy for these long training rides should be fat, which is only utilized at heart rates that are below 85% of your maximum or your aerobic rate. Above 85% you are burning mostly carbohydrates, which your body has only limited amounts of. Once you consume all of your glycogen stores your muscles no longer have energy to contract and you “hit the wall” or “bonk”. Remember the phrase, “Fat burns in a flame of carbohydrates”.
What does this mean to you? Start by eating something every hour regardless of whether it’s a solid food (sports bars, fig newtons) or semi-solid food (gels). You will also be getting calories from your sports drink but the additional calories from the gels and bars will help. After you get used to eating something every hour, you can start to experiment with your eating intervals. The most common interval that I see people using are between 45 and 60 minutes between eating. So if you are taking in a minimum of one bottle of sports drink or water and some type of food per hour you will be off to a good start.
The reason for alternating between water and sports drink is so that you maintain your electrolyte balance. If you only drink water you could possibly “water down” your electrolyte balance and start to suffer from a lack of vital minerals such as potassium, sodium and magnesium. Having a sport drink that includes the basic minerals mentioned above you can help to maintain that balance. If you have a high sweat rate, you can also experiment with supplements such as electrolyte or salt tablets and eat foods that are high in sodium and other minerals. I sometimes will eat Beef Jerky or drink a V8 at gas stations to increase my sodium levels. Before experimenting with changing your sodium levels you want to check with your Dr. due to the link between sodium and hypertension.
Sports Drink of Choice?
I am currently using Ultima as my sports drink due to the taste and high levels of nutrients that are contained within. However, because of the availability of Gatorade and Powerade I usually end up using them while training. I know that a lot of people use Cytomax, Endurox or other concoctions but my opinion is that if you are using any sports drink on the market you should be okay. Your choice is going to be determined primarily by taste and the positive experiences that you have with that drink.
Training During the Week
The long rides on the weekend are the most important rides in your training schedule. The rides during the week are to maintain and to build upon the long rides. During the week you are best to schedule one or two days per week where you don’t ride at all and focus on recovery. On two days during the week you should ride intervals or with a fast group ride (speed is relative – ride with people faster than you a few days per week). The other days should be easy recovery rides where your heart rate stays below 85% like on your long rides but are short (under 2 hours).
Email me at brian@Fit2Train.com if you have questions.
Brian Hasenbauer is a professional triathlete and trainer. He welcomes your questions, and will help you reach your goals.
© Ultra Sports Marketing. All rights reserved.