Training... I think I'd better do some
One of the questions I asked myself when I was thinking about committing to this adventure was 'how much training will I need to do?' To try to answer this I did what all good people should do and hit Google. A London to Paris ride is, as I'm sure you know, a very popular endurance ride so I was confident that I'd find some good, trustworthy guidance on when and how to train. How wrong I was. Yes, there's lots of advice out there, much of it from previous participants, but it is all just so contradictory. After a while I simply didn't know what to follow and what to dismiss. In the end I was attracted to one charity site which had shared a training plan that looked good to me; start 18 weeks before the event and gradually build up the distances as you get closer to the start. So, I thought, nothing to think about until May and even then the first few weeks are barely any more than I do on my daily commute anyway.
With a renewed confidence I shared this plan with my son, with the aim of getting a nod of approval from an experienced and very training-focused athlete. This did not go well.
I can't repeat his response to the plan I shared, but suffice it to say that things rapidly went back to the drawing board.
The response was a generous offer from him to create a training plan just for me which "uses the best of sport science to help along the way"... how could I refuse?
A few days later the first draft of the plan appeared. It started immediately!
That was almost 6 weeks ago now and I'm very happy to say that so far I've managed to stick to the plan. It's already starting to build up the distance and frequency of rides, and whilst there's still a long, long way to go, I can feel some progression.
In case you're interested, I'd like to share a little about the structure of the training plan. It goes like this; You start by dividing up the time you have to the event into 4 week periods (plus the odd 3 week period to make it all fit). Each period ends with a Recovery Week where you do very little riding. I'm told that this is where the magic happens as your body recovers from the preceding weeks of work and builds strength, resilience and performance. The remaining 3 weeks of each period (or 2 in some cases) are described as either Prep, Base, Build or Peak. You start with one or two periods of Prep, followed by a couple of Base then the majority of the remainder are Build. You finish with a Peak period before tapering before the event. To explain these a little more.
Prep: This is essentially unstructured training just to get you into the habit of exercise. It's not focused on anything in particular and doesn't even need to by riding.
Base: During the BASE period, the workouts are "general", meaning not exactly like the demands of the targeted event. The purpose of the training in this period is to prepare the body for the training stresses of the build period.
Build: During the BUILD period, the workouts are "specific", meaning very much like the demands of the targeted event. The purpose of training in this period is to prepare the body for the training stresses of the event.
Peak: During the PEAK period, the workouts are even more focused on the targeted event, and workout durations are often increased whilst intensity remains high. The purpose of this period is to produce form gradually by allowing the body to recover from the previous hard training whilst retaining fitness.
Taper: Tapering is the days or weeks before an event in which training volume is gradually reduced to ensure you're fresh and ready for the event.
Recovery: Shorter rides, less intensity and some stretching. That's all. It's a chance to look back over how you've got on over the last few weeks, what went well and what didn't go so well, and where you can improve/what you need to work on and what your targets are for the next few weeks
So, that's it. I have a plan. I'll share more details in another post, but the main thing is that I have a plan.... and I thoroughly intend to stick to it.