RAGBRAI Training: Rule #1: Train Consistently
by Coach David Ertl
My last blog talked about my 5 rules of training. Starting with this blog I am going to drill down into each of these in more detail.
My first rule is to ride consistently as you are preparing for RAGBRAI. Because RAGBRAI isn’t just one day-long ride like so many other bike tours, it requires a different approach. Instead of focusing on being able to ride 80 or 100 miles in one day, you need to be able to ride 60+ miles one day, then get up the next day and do it again. Much of this is a matter of physical training but some of it is training your brain as well.
When I say ‘train consistently’ I am talking about frequency mostly. Getting out on your bike as many days as possible and getting in multiple days in a row of riding. I believe this is even more important than how far you go on any given day. I say that hesitantly because of Rule #2 that we will talk about next time: Ride far. You do need endurance to get through RAGBRAI but first you need to be able to get on that bike and start pedaling every day for seven days in a row.
Now that we are into June, no matter where you live, you should be able to get out almost every day in terms of weather. So unless you have a terrible schedule, try to get on your bike as many days of the week as possible. Aim for five days per week if you can. These can be short rides if necessary, even 20 minutes, as the key point is to do some riding every day. This will help get your body and your head (and of course your butt) used to getting on that bike and going day after day. Some days you may be tired, but get on and ride anyway. You just might be surprised that you actually feel better when you get done than when you started. That’s because riding can actually loosen up tight muscles, something we call active recovery.
I do suggest and encourage a day or two of rest each week, so there is no need to try to ride every day of the week unless you want to. Make sure you are getting in at least one progressively longer ride each week, but the rest of the days don’t have to be terribly long. Try to reach new weekly mileage totals as you progress through the season too. This is made easier by riding more often. If you ride two or three days per week now, bumping it up to four can increase your weekly mileage by 25%. Then go to five or even six days.
One thing to keep in mind as you do this. Don’t overdo it. The more frequently you ride, the less time you have for your leg muscles to recover. So if you do a long or fast ride one day, do an easy spin the next day. If you find you are continually tired and sluggish, take a day or two completely off the bike to refresh.
What if you can’t ride several days each week? Then you are going to have to add more mileage to the days you can ride. The weekly total goal should still be the same but you will have to cram those miles into fewer, longer rides. But the good thing is you get more days off to recover.
Have fun out there!
Coach David Ertl
David Ertl is a USA Cycling Level 1 Coach. He coaches the Des Moines Cycle Club Race Team, JDRF Ride To Cure Diabetes and individual cyclists through the Peaks Coaching Group. He also provides cycling training plans and ebooks at his website: http://www.CyclesportCoaching.com . He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.