Maybe you spent the last few months seeking solace in long rides. Maybe you spent them sweating it out on the Wattbike. If you managed to use the time to exercise, chances are your overall fitness and endurance has improved somewhat- congratulations!
If you’re new to the Wattbike, or simply haven’t been able to be as active as you’d like recently, there’s still time to enjoy the late-season sportives or long rides by increasing your cycling endurance training. We can’t promise you’ll be Tour de France ready by the end of August, but there’s a high chance you’ll at least build a solid foundation for next year’s season if you follow these tips for improving your cycling endurance.
01. Train your body
Cycling endurance training is often thought of as ‘getting the miles in’, but to make the most of the time spent on the bike there are a few things you need to take into consideration.
Regular riding makes the body fitter and better at using fat stores, and fitter riders use higher amounts of fat-based energy, stretching out carbohydrate reserves. In order to train your body properly, you’ll first need to incorporate some aerobic exercise by adding in some high tempo efforts into your cycling endurance training sessions to make the necessary adaptations to your cardiovascular system.
Secondly, planning in some fasted sessions can help train your body to fat burn more efficiently. Although we wouldn’t recommend doing this all the time, it’s worth adding a few sessions here and there to kickstart your body into burning fat for fuel.
Finally, it pays to be consistent. It’s thought of as getting the miles for a reason. You’ll need to keep up your training if you want to see improvement. As you find yourself getting better, you can look to set a bigger goal every second or third week, getting further and further every time.
2. Know your pacing
Endurance rides should take place at around 60-70% of your MHR, or 55-75% of your FTP. This is easy to track on the Wattbike and the Wattbike Hub, but if you’re out and about without a power metre of heart rate monitor, you should be able to assess what level you’re working at by how well you can talk- you should be able to chat comfortably throughout the ride.
3. Practice reverse periodisation
If your targeted cycling endurance events aren’t on your agenda anytime soon, it’s worth considering trying a new training method. Traditionally, cycling training follows a periodisation model, building your base initially before moving on to harder, race-style efforts to finish the programme.
This method isn’t so effective for summer endurance events, so if that’s your goal, a reverse periodisation model might suit you better. This would involve getting your harder, faster efforts out of the way over winter, and then tapering down to your longer but steadier endurance rides more towards the spring. Looking to do your endurance rides outdoors with friends? As fun as they are, remember these sessions are often time-intensive with little reward, so swap out some rides for some focussed Wattbike sessions. Eight hours outdoors equates to considerably less time on the trainer.
4. Get sweaty
Adding some high-intensity interval training can also help to supercharge your cycling training sessions, as doing short but intense intervals can increase your body’s ability to use oxygen during exercise, in turn, increasing your endurance. If you’re short on time, an hour of steady riding isn’t going to yield good results, so swap out the session for some HIIT instead and practice using that oxygen supply. Balancing your sessions between long and slow rides and short, hard sessions will help you make the most of your available time.
5. Figure out your fuelling strategy
Long endurance rides are a good time to practice your nutrition strategy for your next event. By getting the practice in you’ll learn what food and drinks work best for your body, allowing you to avoid any incidents on the day of the sportive. However, easy steady riding can easily ramp up your appetite, and fixating on that slice of cake at the end can easily lead to you overeating. Keep yourself fuelled throughout the ride with around 60g of carbs per hour, starting from the 40-minute mark, and aim to be drinking around 500-750ml of fluid an hour.
When planning your nutrition for a long endurance ride, you’ll need to be making the most of your internal reserves. Glycogen comes from the carbohydrates via the muscles and liver, glucose from the bloodstream and triglycerides (fats) are stored in the muscles. Plus, there is the biggest source of energy- body fat. Running out of muscle or liver glycogen, or low blood glucose levels are what will make you hit the wall, so make sure to stock up on your carbohydrates.
Looking to get started on training for a long ride? Why not check out one of our sportive training plans?