How to Train for Your First Century Ride
Preparing for your first century ride, which is a 100-mile bike ride or 100 km for a metric century, requires a structured training plan to build endurance and improve performance. Here is a general outline of a training program for riding a century. How long it takes you to prepare will depend on your fitness level, but plan for at least 12 weeks.
Start with shorter rides and gradually increase the distance and intensity over several weeks to build a strong foundation of endurance. Rule of thumb is to increase your training load by 5-10% per week. Using a trainer with programs like Zwift are great for base building during the winter or on less than ideal weather days.
Focus on rides that simulate the conditions of the century ride, including hilly terrain and long distances. Aim to gradually increase the distance of these rides over several weeks. You’ll want to do one long ride a week.
Include high-intensity interval training sessions to improve your power and endurance. You should plan to do at least one high intensity interval training session a week. Hill repeats are also great! (Join me for a Tuesday morning workout on Zwift during the winter months!)
Rest and recovery:
Ensure that you are taking adequate rest and recovery time between training sessions to avoid burnout and injury. This is also when the real magic happens as the body builds muscle and endurance while you recover from your training sessions.
In the week leading up to the century ride, reduce the intensity and volume of your training to allow your body to fully recover.
Nutrition and hydration:
Practice your nutrition and hydration strategies during training rides to ensure that you are properly fuelling and hydrating during the event. If you’re doing a ride with aid stations, try to mimic what will be available at the aid stations the best you can (eg. bananas, PB&J sandwiches, gels).
It is important to consult with a medical professional coach before starting a new training program and to listen to your body and adjust the plan as needed. Keep in mind that every rider is different, and what works for one person may not work for another, so find what works best for you.
If you need help creating a personalized training plan, contact me! As an endurance coach, I work with athletes of all levels, from beginners to experienced competitors.