Cyclists of all calibers aspire to take part in centuries and avid riders will understand just how intensive the events can be. Whether you’re taking part in a local century or if you’re traveling a little further afield, preparing yourself for a century can make a big to your performance at the event. There are a few specific techniques that even the most experienced veterans practice before their big event. Now there’s no guarantee that these techniques will reward you with a first place finish – but they will definitely help you to improve your performance on the day!
Preparing your Body
Centuries are often very physically-intense. It’s less about sprinting from the start to the finish line and more about pacing yourself and moderating your energy usage. The best way to prepare for a century is to practice it unofficially.
If you’re concerned about being able to ride in a safe environment, then consider driving to an area that is safer to ride. Many people opt to travel to remote locations to prepare for a century. Back country roads with low populations are a good alternative to the busycity streets – but this depends on how comfortable you are with traffic.
Grab a Stopwatch
Is there any better feeling than beating your personal best time? If you already know that you can complete the distance, set yourself the target of at least matching your personal best. If you beat it, then evaluate what you did differently so that you can replicate the results! A century is about pacing – making sure you start out slow enough to have enough in the tank to finish strong.
There’s no need to tackle all of your training in the same evening – in fact, if you prepare a training schedule that runs over the length of 4 to 6 weeks, you’ll be able to measure your progress as the weeks go by. As the century approaches, you should have beaten your personal best several times over and you can enter the race pretty confident of your pending performance!
Adjust Your Diet
It’s a little known fact that toxins stay in your body for weeks on end if they aren’t tackled head on. That fast food that you enjoyed last week could still be taking its toll on your metabolism right now and most professionals will undertake a detox period before an event. High energy foods are a better alternative than non-organic carbohydrates, and be sure to stock up on the former before a ride, to train your metabolism to make the most of the energy potential.
If you can spend a few weeks teaching your metabolism to utilize the energy that it has as its disposal, you will soon find that your body maintains its energy levels for extended periods of time. In terms of event-performance, this means that your body will be able to rely on your metabolism for a consistent influx of energy while you race.
Enhancing Your Endurance
There’s no shame in admitting that your endurance levels sometimes decrease during the off-season. Picking the pace back up again can take time and that’s where endurance training comes in handy. Casual bicycle rides that focus on duration over speed are ideal as is cardiovascular exercise to remind your heart what it feels like to pump at an increased rate again. A week before the event isn’t always enough and a better idea is to start your endurance training at least a month or two in advance.
Aim to surpass your performance each day, even minimally, and by the time four weeks have passed, you’ll be able to witness the improvements in your endurance for yourself. If you find yourself struggling at any point, avoid pushing your body to its breaking point. An injured you is an event no-show, so take it easy for an evening if you need it and pick the pace back up the next day.
The Tools of the Trade
Whilst training for a century, it’s easy to overlook the impact that your bicycle can have on the race itself! A week before the event, consider having your bicycle serviced by a professional, and make sure that the tire pressure, brakes, and shifters are all functioning as they should – after all, a cyclist is nothing without a bike!
A Detailed Training Plan To Walk You Through Your Preparation
A great option to ensure that you are fully prepared when preparing yourself for a century event is to start a training plan. For a particular even however you can’t just start any training plan but rather need a plan catered toward your ride goals. The I Love Bicycling’s 12 Week Training Plan For Your Gran Fondo or Century Ride not only prepares you physically but also gives you weekly skills practices, advice on nutrition, recovery, and good tips of things to know on the bike such as dressing properly for the weather. It also includes core workouts to strengthen your core so you don’t have any back pain or other issues during your long rides. Check it out by clicking the image below which will take you to a complete breakdown of the plan.