How I Do Long Winter Training Rides
In this short post, I’ll share a tip that I often use when doing long, endurance-based rides during the winter time, here in the UK. This tip can be used at any time of the year, as long aerobic rides should be present in your cycling training plan year round. If you have any related tips, I’d love to hear them, so please leave them in the comments at the bottom of this page.
WHY DO LONG RIDES?
Long rides (which are by necessity lower in intensity) should be done throughout the winter and the entire season for a few key reasons. These are to strengthen the heart muscle, which can then pump more blood around the body for a given beat (the stroke volume), to increase the number of mitochondria in the cells for increased aerobic efficiency and to develop the strength of your Type 1 or slow-twitch muscle fibres.
These changes come about as a function of time exercising, not intensity, so it is necessary to ride for long periods of time to stimulate these important adaptions. Doing so will improve your ability to clear lactic acid from the blood and build the strength needed to maintain higher power outputs for longer.
A TIP FOR LONG RIDES
So, it’s clear that the most important thing when it comes to long rides, is to prioritise time spent exercising over intensity and ensure that we ride for an adequate amount of time to stress the body in the right way.
One tip that I like to use to help myself stay out riding longer, is to do laps or a course around where I live, never going more than about 10 miles from home at any given time. You can see an example of such a ride below, where I rode for 4 hours 5 minutes and accumulated a lot of elevation:
This was achieved by creating a course that jutted out in many directions and sometimes overlapped on itself. Whilst these might not be the most thrilling or indeed adventurous rides, they help me to ensure I stay out riding for the necessary duration. Why is that? Here, I think, are the key reasons:
- You can always nip back home if you have a mechanical problem or run out of food/water
- Mentally, more distance is easier to cope with as you know you won’t blow up or get stranded miles from home
- Laps split the ride up into distinct segments which are mentally checked off. If you create a lap of 1 hour, you only need to do 4 to total a solid amount of hours
NOT FOR EVERYONE
Of course, this tip won’t apply to everyone and it may be inappropriate if you live somewhere where you have to drive to find suitable riding. It also shouldn’t be used for every ride either, as it can get monotonous and the sense of adventure that comes with long rides can be lost.
However, in times of inclement weather and when a long ride workout has to be done, it can be a great way to ensure you last the distance and complete what is on the training plan.
What are some of your best tips for long duration rides, when it comes to motivation and getting it done? Please let me know in the comments below! If you like this tip, please share it on social media!