December 11, 2015

Many people ask how often I train and what I’m doing, so I decided to write a post to elaborate on how I’m preparing myself for the ride.

I’m lucky enough to have a Transition Cycle Coaching to help me with my training. If you’re training for an event (especially if, like me, you have no idea) I would highly recommend recruiting a qualified person to help. It has relieved me of almost all of the pressures of training,  all that’s left to do is nail the sessions!

I normally train 5 days a week, however the two rest days are equally important to help my body recover and repair. My training is currently split into three main categories; road, turbo trainer and strength/core exercises.


On the road

The bulk of my riding is done at the weekend. I generally ride twice, one long and one short, the short is generally 50% less than the long one. For example I might do 3 hours on a Sunday and 1.5 hours on a Saturday. The rides are determined in hours, there is no focus on speeds or distances yet. The main objective is to build me up to a level where I can sustain the required 8+ hours in the saddle.

Bearing in mind that I only started cycling in September, I started with one hour rides and have progressed to 4 hours after 3 months. As the duration has increased so too has my fear of long rides. To perform and exercise for over 2 hours regularly is no easy feat and it really does take some practice. Although I like the challenge, I’m genuinely quite scared at the prospect of my long weekend ride. As I get fitter and become more accustomed to the endurance levels I’m hoping this will pass.


On the turbo

Apparently an hour on the turbo is worth two hours on the road (because you are continuously peddling I presume), especially if you’re doing it right. Training on the turbo can actually be really fun and utilising it properly means it’s a very important aspect of my training.

My turbo sessions are dictated by my HR (heart rate) levels. I am allocated a HR to maintain over a period of time. Sometimes these HR’s will be high and I’m cycling at pace, other times they’re lower but I have to maintain a certain cadence to resemble a hill climb.
For example my strength turbo session involves me riding at 160-170HR and 60-70 cadence for ten mins. If these figures don’t mean anything to you it can translated to…. cycle hard uphill and maintain it for ten mins.

One of my favorites turbo sessions is the ‘sweetspot’. It basically involves me riding at about 90% effort for a period of time. However my trainer accompanies this effort with a higher tempo beforehand which means the burn in my legs is very real!

My turbo sessions typically last around an hour but they are really challenging. Many people ask me do I not get bored training in my basement for an hour. To be honest when you’re riding in these zones you’re in very loud company with your brain screaming to stop peddling. When you’re in the rest period you don’t really think about much as you’re in good company with relief. The warm up (20 mins) and warm down (5-10 mins) is pretty boring though.


Strength/Core Exercises

Unfortunately I have learnt the importance of core exercise the hard way. I have been having a real hard time with my lower back and – although it’s not resolved yet – I strongly suspect it’s because my core simply isn’t strong enough to cope.

I’ve now bought a mat and I practice pilates, stretches and exercises almost every night. I have also started in incorporate 100 press-ups into my routine in the hope of building some small guns for America. 😉

A general core session might involve planking, ab cycles and sit ups. The duration/reps of each are continuously increasing. At the time of writing I do 45 second plank, 30 second ab cycle, 14 sit ups, then repeat the plank and ab cycle again. Those five activities make one set and I repeat 4 times.

Core stuff is boring, so boring that I find it very hard to maintain daily. Now that I have a mat in my room I can watch TV or listen to music whilst I’m working out, this has improved things.

For the strength I do squats, lunges, wall chair etc. The first few months was very intense with strength work at the gym, I wrote about that here. Now that my legs are a bit stronger strength exercises are incorporated into my turbo sessions/rides. Generally speaking I will do one strength session a week which might consist of 20 squats, 20 lunges and 30 second wall chair for one set, this will be repeated 5 times.


My training sessions are constantly changed and/or fine-tuned as my fitness levels increase. I can’t even begin to explain the important of this as I’m constantly set new goals to achieve. Left to my own devices I’m sure these goals would have been either too low or high, both of which would have prevented me from reaching optimum levels for America.

I knew the training was going to be hard but I didn’t realise how life-consuming it would be. A 3 hour ride on a Sunday amounts to a lot more than three hours. That main problem for me at the moment is the tiredness. Because it’s all new to me I’m shattered after, I can eat as much as I want to refuel but I’m always pretty exhausted. That, combined with food , kit preparation, route planning, bike maintenance, etc, etc means that you don’t have much time left, or can’t physically manage, ‘normal’ life things. I have a new found admiration for athletes who do this thing continuously.

Whilst it might sound like I’m complaining, I assure you I’m not. I’m really enjoying pushing my body to limits it has never experienced before and – above all – I’m not losing focus of the children I will be helping at the end!

Cheers for reading and make sure you check out Transition Cycle Coaching!



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