An Example L’Etape Training Plan
The idea of this post is to give a bit of structure to my training. There are two main reasons for doing this:
- Using tried and tested routines and workouts is, well, tried and tested. It works and the plans have been created experts who know what works.
- It gives you purpose. With a written down, solid plan in place you have something to work towards with weekly and monthly goals. It’s like taking on a mammoth project at work. If you look at the end goal without breaking it down into manageable chunks it’s scary.
“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” – Benjamin Franklin
The General Idea
There are multiple aspects of training for an event like L’Etape. There is the physical side, such as cycling and gym work. The psychological side, such as metal fatigue, anxiety and stress. Then there is the nutritional side, such as for the event and leading up to the event.
Let’s take a look at each area in more detail before outlining a training plan for L’Etape.
You need to train for several aspects of fitness; Muscular Strength, Muscular Endurance, Cardio Fitness.
- Muscular Strength – Required for the steep hill climbs, where your cadence will drop and every pedal stroke will feel like you are doing heavy squats in the gym. Guess what kind of training will help with this!
- Muscular Endurance – Necessary because you’re going to be riding for many hours, below maximum output. Your muscles in the legs need to be able to pedal continuously for that duration but also your whole body needs to be conditioned. Your back, neck, arms and core play a massive part. If you’re not comfortable, you’ll mentally fatigue quickly.
- Cardio Fitness – You will need plenty of endurance training to ensure your heart and lungs can continue working effectively for hours at a time, but you’ll also need to be able to handle hard bouts of high intensity, high heart rate climbing and recover quickly while still pedalling.
Your psychological performance is also very important in order to perform well.
- Anxiety – There is nothing worse than being worried because you aren’t even sure you can ride the total distance. Completing the distance in terms of elevation gain and KMs ridden prior to the race is one way to boost your confidence.
- Stress – The worry of being uncertain if your training plan is any good can add stress to your training. Take away that stress by sticking to a tried and tested plan that other people have successfully used to complete the same type of event as you are doing.
- Uncertainty – Knowing how to pace yourself in the race and fuel your body correctly adds confidence that you can do it. Having a plan and sticking to it come race day will mean you know what to do and all you have to do is execute that plan. This is why preparation is critical to success.
- Weight – If you are planning on riding through the mountains you will need to look at your weight. Being massively over weight will hinder your chances of completing the event. With a bit of work you can get big performance gains by reducing your weight in a sensible way. No crash diets.
- Fuelling – With the event being so long you have to fuel right to last the duration. Without adequate energy and hydration it doesn’t matter how fit you are. Working out the best strategy is a very individual thing. I’ll share what I have found works in more detail later.
The Training Plan Details
I’m going to break this down into 3 areas:
- Cycling – Time on your bike, spinning classes and stationary bike
- Gym – Strength and conditioning and core workouts
- Other – Other activities, like running, swimming, massage, foam rolling
These are the details of what kinds of cycle training I’ll be aiming for over the coming 6 months.
Long Rides – 1 per weekStarting with 60KMs and building all the way up to 180km (race distanace)
Spin Class – 1 per week to give me some variety
Watt Bike – 1 per week. These will vary in structure from shorter more intense intervals to longer tempo efforts
I’ll be aiming for 1 gym session a week which will include a lot of leg work and core strength. I will be changing it every 4 weeks or so most likely, but here is an example of what it will include.
Note: To see the actual workouts I complete each week, take a look at the ***weekly breakdown.
- Squats: 4 sets of 12-20 reps per set @ 60-80kg
- Circuit, 30 sec per exercise: mountain climbers, plank, plank arc walks. 30 sec rest. Repeat 3 times
- Box Jumps + Walking Lunge super set: 3 sets of 8 box jumps + 12 walking lunges with 20kg kettle bells
- Leg Curl Single Leg: 4 sets of 12-20 reps per set. One leg at a time on the machine. 10-15kg
- TRX Plank Side Movement + Mountain Climbers: 2-3 sets of 20-30 reps of each move
- Back Extension + Extended Twists: 2-3 sets of 15-20 reps of each move
There is nothing too fancy here. Just basic moves that mimic in many ways what I’ll be doing on the bike. For example, mountain climbers and planks are great core work because it’s like what you’ll face on the bike.
Squats and lunges help develop strength while maintaining good core stability for those hard hills and box jumps will help develop explosive power.
I’m sure that I’ll adapt as go along so you’ll be able to see all the details in the ***weekly training plans.
My other workouts include:
- Swimming – I want to keep this up because I’m a weak swimmer and I might be doing a few triathlons this year too. It’s also a nice way to end the workout with a swim and a trip to the steam room.
- Boxing – I used to box and have wanted to get back into it. The last time that I boxed I managed to get my 10km PB down to 39:05, way below what I was able to do with just run training. I attribute this success to the high intensity intervals in boxing, losing some muscle mass as a result of the training and being able to maintain a higher heart rate for longer. Read more about why I believe ***cross training is so important.
- Running – Having done a few triathlons I like to keep my eye on the ball with some run training. I also belong to a club so I’m going to try and get a few runs in. It’s something that I find difficult in the colder, winter evenings though…