Do you want to be more active?
Want to ride your bike?
Are you like me, over 50 and still want to challenge yourself?
Need to balance family, work, and your own passions?
Building a strong aerobic base is fundamental to any endurance athlete’s program, and over time it will lead to speed. Too many athletes ride or exercise at heart rates that undermine their recovery and performance gains. When starting any new endurance plan, it is important to focus on building a wide aerobic base that will ignite all aspects of your cardiovascular and muscular systems to make you more efficient as you cycle.
As you build any training plan it is important to understand the different training zones. There are many more zones than the three categories I list here. I purposely created these three categories to simplify a training plan. I go into more details in the video below.
- Easy – can you speak or sing? This is also the fat burning zone.
- Tempo – harder to maintain a conversation. Burns fat and sugar, and over time, the more efficient your aerobic base, the more fat you can burn in tempo.
- Intensity – can’t talk at all. This is a sugar burning zone that will quickly deplete your glycogen stores in your muscles. But adding intensity, once you have a strong aerobic base, will make you faster.
The Basics – Training Plan
Ideally, one should find at least five hours during the week to ride. Over time, more hours in the saddle can be added. To create a good aerobic base here is how I recommend using these five hours for any beginning plan. Essentially, this plan is an 80/20 plan where 80% of your cycling workouts are in the easy zone and the other 20% first start with some additional tempo and as you build your aerobic base you can allocate 5-10% of the 20% to intensity or interval workouts.
- Two easy sessions around 1 hour
- One tempo session of 30 to 45 minutes
- A weekly long ride at the easy pace with some tempo efforts starting between 1.5 to 2 hours. Over time, you can work up to 3 or more hours.
- Once you have a good aerobic base (after about two months of doing the 4 sessions above) add one intensity session after you build your aerobic base
It is also important to add resistance training to a program. As we age, resistance training such as weightlifting, becomes an important part in maintaining muscle building hormones (that can be depleted with overtrained endurance athletes), muscle mass, and bone strength.
Recovery is Key!
Making time to recover is just as important as the workouts. Your body needs time to adapt to the new training load. You also need to ensure you have time to balance work, family, and other obligations. While working, being with family, and other off-bike activity, your body will recover and adapt to better respond to the training load. Also, make sure you stay hydrated, drink lots of water, eat a healthy diet, and get lots of sleep.
And remember to have fun!
For more inspiration here is a video on how to create a balanced approach to cycling as we age.