The training strategy for my 2,700km (1,700-miles) world record attempt in The 2018 Longest Ride Challenge is pretty simple and will be based on the weekly training plan outlined below. My main highlights from each training week are also listed at the bottom of this page.
1* I generally ride my ElliptiGO bike just once a week, in my routine training, because I consider a ‘minimalist’ approach to be the most time-efficient option for achieving my goals. So I incorporate aspects of both endurance & speed into my single weekly rides to ensure that I fully address all my fitness & conditioning requirements for riding very long distances.
Because I only ride once every week I quite look forward to my weekend bike sessions (and I almost always enjoy them)! But having just one weekly bike session also gives me a very narrow training window (just Saturdays or Sundays) within which to fit the sessions, requiring me to always be well organised! I also rotate through my different bikes on each successive weekend (generally alternating between the ElliptiGO 11R and the ElliptiGO Arc bikes, on successive weekends).
2* I also do weekly strength training sessions at the gym – or at home. I lift weights for strength and for strength-endurance development, using either full-body training (once weekly, at the gym) or using a split-routine (in which the lower body is trained on a separate day to the upper body).
I warm up for gym-based sessions with cardiovascular work on the treadmill – either a slow run or a power-walk (see details in point 3* below). I also do martial arts technical training on the punching bags as part of my gym warm-up. I then lift weights for about 45 minutes, without taking breaks, engaging every muscle group for an intense workout.
For my lower body strength training sessions I workout on the Power Plate vibration platform to benefit from whole body vibration (WBV) training, which accelerates my fitness gains (as well as boosting my recovery from these training sessions). I also incorporate a developmental stretching routine into my lower body training sessions (because WBV on the Power Plate enhances flexibility development, through a process called proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation).
3* As part of my gym warm-up I do a short (but intense) power-walking session with the treadmill set at the (15%) maximum incline. These warm-ups are actually productive fitness sessions that can see my heart rate go as high as it would during an interval session on the ElliptiGO. I only do these treadmill sessions at the gym, once every week, before lifting weights.
I find the treadmill to be the most complimentary exercise to my riding the long-stride ElliptiGO 11R bike (which will be the vehicle I will use for my 2,700km Longest Ride Challenge in 2018). For me, treadmill power-walking feels more complimentary to the ElliptiGO motion than even the indoor elliptical machine.
I think power-walking on an inclined treadmill challenges the cardiovascular system as much as running (but does so without nearly as much impact)! So although I’ll occasionally run, for variety, Power-walking is my preferred warm-up activity. And power-walking engages the calf muscles much better than any of the other exercises I currently use (including running).
And I tend to have quite a long stride when I power-walk on an inclined treadmill, which is great for engaging the posterior-chain muscles (the calves, hamstrings and glutes). So power-walking on the treadmill (at the steepest incline) is currently my favourite cross-training workout option for my weekday training.
4* This year I’ve added regular kick-biking to my weekly fitness routine, using a small scooter, because that’s the quickest and most efficient way for me to get about between my train journeys to and from work. For most of the week (3-4 days a week, outside of the sessions outlined earlier) I aim to be aerobically active by using the scooter for what I call “active rest”. “Active rest” refers to lighter aerobic activity which still allows me to sustain the optimal blood volume for effective endurance training on my weekend rides (but isn’t a formal/significant workout).
5* In addition to my ‘active rest’ the main foundation of my preparation will be built on scheduled complete rest days. So, on at least one day of every week, I always ensure that I do absolutely no exercise at all. It will be a complete recovery day. I will also stretch at least twice every week (as part of my flexibility training and as part of my post-ride recovery). In this regard, I have incorporated whole body vibration training (WBV) into my post-training stretching & recovery routine, using the Power Plate.
My training for The 2018 Longest Ride Challenge can be followed week-by-week through the blog summaries outlined on this page. The 2018 Longest Ride Challenge Strava Training Group (also displayed below) shows updates from my training rides and also shows those of the other riders who are pursuing their longest rides in 2018. I hope you will sign up and join us too!
Week 1 (Jan 2018): I did my first gym session of the year using lighter weights than usual, aiming to build up my training intensity gradually through the year. I also completed my first training ride of the year on the ElliptiGO Arc bike (50-miles at a steady intensity with a 140bpm maximum heart rate limit for the entire session).
Week 2: This was a really busy week for me, having just started a new job with a daily train commute into London! So I did no formal training all week, apart from my walks to and from the train station (20-minutes each way) and I squeezed in a late night gym session at 10pm on the Friday night!
Two days later I put in my second ride of the year, this time on the ElliptiGO 11R bike. It was a 50-mile interval session during which all the uphill sections of the route were sprinted (with a heart rate maximum limit of 155bpm – to control/moderate the training intensity). I used the flat and downhill sections of the course for light recovery spinning.
Week 3: My 3rd training week was an interesting one! I got to grips with commuting by scooter (4 times per day) and my 1st scooter ride went smoothly enough. My fastest scooter ride had an average speed of only 8.4mph – showing just how much slower a scooter is than a bike!
Despite a lack of outright pace, a scooter can be much more convenient than a bike for busy city commuting (because you can ride it on pavements, as well as in bike lanes). And scooters are allowed on all the trains, even at peak travel times. As for my single weekly ElliptiGO ride, I got caught in very snowy conditions – which forced me to reduce the distance to 46-miles.
Week 4: The highlight of the 4th training week was definitely my scooter race through London (against Stuart Blofeld, who was using the London Underground to get to the same destination)! It was a surprising validation of the fact that my kick-bike commuting on the scooter wasn’t only the most cost-effective way to travel to work; it was also a faster way than using the trains! I also started incorporating whole-body vibration training on the Power Plate into my stretching, flexibility and recovery schedule. The week was rounded up with a 53-mile ElliptiGO workout in windy (but mild) conditions.
Week 5: The week went by pretty steadily with regular (but short) scooter commutes, a lower body & an upper body strength workout – and also a 51-mile ElliptiGO Arc ride which left me feeling pretty wasted! I will hopefully get to test my endurance properly in Training Week 6 with my first long ride of the year (planned for 11 February) to formally kick off the 2018 Longest Ride Campaign.
Week 6: This was another standard week, with regular scooter commutes, a lower body and an upper body strength session. My endurance was finally tested in a 220km (137-mile) ride on the anniversary of the passing of my dear brother Garai which served to officially launch The 2018 Longest Ride Challenge. My legs coped well with the long ride but the weather was icy – windy and very variable – making it a slow ride, overall. But I never struggled at any point.
Week 7: This was a busier week for me on the scooter due to the children’s half term holidays (meaning that I wasn’t catching a lift to the train station with my wife and daughter every morning and was instead doing an additional scooter ride to the train station every day of the working week). That resulted in 20 short scooter rides between Monday and Friday. I also put in my usual lower body and upper body strength sessions and finished the week with my weekly bike ride (a half century on the ElliptiGO Arc bike, using my usual training loop).