Carrying on from the last post about swim training for triathlon beginners, this will go into more detail about how to structure your ride training over 10-weeks to make the most of your first triathlon!
Triathlon Training | The Ride
Your riding sessions will differ slightly from the swim, most likely because of time constraints. In terms of time, the ride part of the race is the chunky bit in the middle of the triathlon, and training for it represents the same.
You might find therefore that you can only squeeze one or two rides in a week, especially if you are restricted by the hours of daylight.
✓ As you can see in the sample training schedule, Saturdays are always reserved for an endurance ride to take this into consideration. You can of course replace it with a race pace session depending on how you are feeling physically!
The Race-Pace Session
Like the swim, your first race pace session might simply be just to check your time over the race distance at a pace which you would like to race it in.
Take a note of it, and come back to it 3 or 4 weeks later. But your race pace sessions need not cover the full race distance each time, as this is likely to lead to burn-out.
✓ Focus on quality over quantity
A simple race pace session could involve matching your race pace over a distance of 10-25 km, and then adding some fartlek training. This is essentially when you aim for something in the distance, like a tree, and sprint towards it, before slowing down to a much lower pace to the next marker (a pylon) and sprinting to the next (a stationary cow), and so on.
This is a great way of targeting all your muscle fibres (slow, medium and fast twitch) and adding a bit of variety to your training.
The Endurance Session
Since the race itself will typically have 40 km riding, your endurance session should exceed this, but your pace should be slower.
You might also want to rope in some friends for this one, since it will take a few hours, and if you can practice riding in a group you will be much better off when it comes to race day.
✓ During this session, try to maintain a steady average speed and you will notice the benefits to your lung capacity when you come back to other sessions.
The Sprint Session
Besides the fartlek training mentioned above, the constraints of road cycling might mean that you are unable to find a good spot to go all out in a sprint session. If you can, find a stretch of quiet, flat and straight road of about 500 metres and sprint it, cycling slowly back before sprinting again, timing each rep.
Do this 10-15 times, trying to keep your time equal to the first. An alternative would be to find a good-sized hill and ascend at a high pace, and at as high a gear as you can bear!
Hill sessions are often sprint sessions in disguise –
They will build up your strength and speed.
If you struggle to find a good stretch of road, or live in a very flat area, then your best option to work on speed on a bicycle is the gym.
✓ Find the stationary spin bikes with the slim saddles, rather than those with all the padding and the electronics. Set up your stop watch and get in 20-30 minutes of sprint training.
✓ The simplest way to do this is to warm up at a good pace for 5-10 minutes before alternating between fast and slow pace for the remaining time.
Alternate between low and high speeds either every 1 minute or 30 seconds, perhaps varying it in the same session. The low pace should have your legs whirring around with little resistance, but the high resistance will make you feel like you are trying to cycle through syrup.
See how many reps you can do before your legs feel like jelly, and then try to beat it next time.
Cycling Programme | Sitting
If you are entirely new to triathlon, one of the biggest adjustments you need to make is cycling with the triathlon bars which point straight out from the front of your bike, and require you to be rather slumped in the saddle.
The forces this position exerts on your lower back can be tough to deal with for first-timers, but if you practice and stretch it out, the position should become a lot more natural, and the stream-lining should shave a bit off your race time.
✓ During your sessions, alternate between this stance and sitting more upright in the saddle to ease yourself into it, and before you know it you will be able to sit leaning forward on the bars for hours!
Although it may take more time on your part to get out on the bike, you can use a few tricks to get around extensive training, especially during the dark months!
For example: take your endurance ride at the weekend (or a day off), and have high-quality, high-intensity sessions on the stationary bike in the gym to fire up your leg muscles and make sure you are ready to give a top performance at your first triathlon ride.
And remember the key to any training schedule is variety!