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Tapering training two weeks before century?

Old 04-18-19, 09:04 AM
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maartendc
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Tapering training two weeks before century?

Hello all,

I have been following an 8-week training schedule (see image below) to prepare for my first century, gradually increasing my training of endurance rides on the weekend from 45 miles to about 75 miles on week 6.

During the week, I am doing one interval ride (all out anaerobic intervals), and one steady pace ride (80% of threshold).

Now i read a lot of articles suggest "tapering" your training, by reducing the training volume by 40% in the second to last week, and another 40% in the week leading up to the event. So if my training volume is 200km total on week 6, it would be only 120km on week 7 and 72km on week 8. My training schedule however, suggests doing the longest ride the weekend before the event (75 miles), and tapers off volume slightly on the steady and intervals rides, but not nearly by 40%.

The week leading up to the event, what do you do? Some people suggest getting off the bike completely. Others say to do some interval sessions.

What has been successful for you in preparing for a century? Do you taper for two weeks? What do you do the week leading up?

Thanks!

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Old 04-18-19, 09:28 AM
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Are you racing the century or just trying to finish? I wouldnt taper at all with that low of volume
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Old 04-18-19, 09:37 AM
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I ride/race many centuries (and longer). I typically taper the intensity of the rides, but not the time on the bike. I like to ease up 3-4 days prior to the century - I keep my efforts 'social', while riding the same duration, but shorter distance. I'll usually have a rest day the day prior to the century - that's also the day I give the bike a final clean/tune-up and layout the gear/food I want with me on the ride.

I find that the challenge of century (and longer) rides is the time in the saddle - my legs & heart/lungs don't suffer as much as general fatigue from staying on the bike for many hours.
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Old 04-18-19, 10:27 AM
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don't overthink it.
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Old 04-18-19, 10:40 AM
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On my monitor that's chart's impossible to read. Whatever's on the yellow doesn't show up. Same thing on my wife's. These are large high-end screens.
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Old 04-18-19, 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by redlude97 View Post
Are you racing the century or just trying to finish? I wouldnt taper at all with that low of volume
I guess just trying to finish. But trying to finish feeling strong within a reasonable time. Not feeling like dying.

Originally Posted by Hypno Toad View Post
I ride/race many centuries (and longer). I typically taper the intensity of the rides, but not the time on the bike. I like to ease up 3-4 days prior to the century - I keep my efforts 'social', while riding the same duration, but shorter distance. I'll usually have a rest day the day prior to the century - that's also the day I give the bike a final clean/tune-up and layout the gear/food I want with me on the ride.

That is a good suggestion! Thanks. That makes sense since it is really just the hard training sessions that hurt the next day, not the easy rides. I will keep to my schedule but ease off the intensity. I am definitely planning at least 2 full rest days prior to the event.

I find that the challenge of century (and longer) rides is the time in the saddle - my legs & heart/lungs don't suffer as much as general fatigue from staying on the bike for many hours.
Originally Posted by blacknbluebikes View Post
don't overthink it.
I guess, thanks. Just curious about the optimal way to prepare the week before, since I am hearing contrasting things. A full week of rest will surely be enough to feel fresh, but maybe too fresh.

Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
On my monitor that's chart's impossible to read. Whatever's on the yellow doesn't show up. Same thing on my wife's. These are large high-end screens.
There is nothing on the yellow... yellow is just rest day or "rider choice", meaning walk, run, stretching routine, whatever.
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Old 04-18-19, 11:20 AM
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I'm not a fan of a full weeks rest, but I like low intensity work to keep the legs moving and the cardio pumping. Simply avoid max efforts rides in the 5 or so days prior to the century.

blacknbluebikes has good advice!

Finishing your longest ride is 90% mental game by the end. Fatigue will play a roll, but if you have your head in the right space, you'll get there!
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Old 04-18-19, 11:27 AM
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Tapers for A races involve decreasing volume while keeping or increasing intensity. If you aren't trying to peak for the event, just keep the training load the same. Include intensity at the durations you expect to encounter during the century, ie if you don't expect to attack and sprint between groups, then do longer duration intervals that mimic say the longest hill climbs on the course(use strava to find avg segment times)
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Old 04-18-19, 11:33 AM
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Are you riding a supported century with rest stops? I wouldn't worry about tapering that much, just follow your original training plan. Don't go too hard in the first half of your ride, eat and drink throughout but avoid lingering at a stop too long stuffing yourself, and you'll have a great time.
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Old 04-18-19, 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by maartendc View Post
<snip>

There is nothing on the yellow... yellow is just rest day or "rider choice", meaning walk, run, stretching routine, whatever.
Really. Certainly no need to taper 2 weeks out then. I'd say do a ride of 60 miles and 3000' that last weekend. Then taper*.

Sunday: off
Monday: 1 hour with 4 90" all-out intervals, 90" on, 3.5' easy
Tuesday:45' with 3 90" all-out intervals, 90" om, 3.5' easy
Wednesday: 30' with 2 90" all-out intervals, 90" on, 3.5' easy
Thursday: 30' with 1 90" all-out interval​​​​​
Friday: rest

If you can't do the taper intervals, skip that day, but if you're in decent shape and not over 70, you should be able to do them.

*Joe Friel's suggestion, worked well for me
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Old 04-18-19, 12:02 PM
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Or you could just go ride 5 twenty mile rides from one rest stop to the next.
I wouldn't think riding a century would need any taper. Especially with a low volume 75 mile week. A rest day or 2 before hand is one thing, but anything 3 days or more is going to start declining fitness.

If you are doing 75 mile weeks already, keep that up. Front load Mon, Tue, Wed wit 3 moderate 25 mile rides. Then rest, stretch, yoga or walking or some other leisure activity on Thursday, Friday, then just go ride it Saturday.

No big deal. YOU CAN DO IT!
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Old 04-18-19, 04:31 PM
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Just rest a couple of days before the century. Do some stretching and limbering up a couple of times a day, but avoid weight bearing exercises or aerobic stuff.

Tapering is for athletes who train almost every day, several hours a day. When I was an amateur boxer training all out for multi-day tournaments, sure. We'd taper a bit starting a week before the tourney, after a lead up series of weekly bouts over a few moths. But for younger athletes one or two rest days before a competition is good.

Over-training can definitely hurt an athlete at a high level of competition. Former heavyweight boxer Evander Holyfield was notorious (other than for PEDs) for over-training. He was always fit, never fat, never slacked off. But he'd occasionally, almost inexplicably, gas out midway through some difficult bouts. Rumors behind the scenes (usually leaked by trainers or cornermen and gym rats with inside knowledge) said Holyfield was prone to over-training.

It doesn't apply to us mere mortals who ride 2-3 times a week for an hour or two, whether intervals or other. At 61 with oh-kay health and conditioning I wouldn't do any interval training the week of a long ride, especially if I wanted to ride fairly fast and finish well before deadline. And I'd take two rest days before the event, just stretching. I'd even avoid long walks. But other than that I wouldn't make any significant changes. But that's me. Other folks might prefer more rest or less.

Here's where I see a lot of amateur athletes (and even some pros) get into trouble, in cycling, running, boxing, anything...

They have a lot of pent-up nervous energy and try to burn it off too close to the actual event. So a day or so before the competition or event they're in the gym doing full workouts, then messing around with various physical activities, sometimes at night, basically leaking energy rather than resting for the event.

One of my friends has become pretty competitive in crits and cyclocross. She has a coach, she trains hard, is getting stronger. But she was disappointed with a fourth place finish in a race where she could have been on the podium, and just a middling finish on another race. I follow her Strava and the night before those events she was out after 9 pm on casual bike rides for 10-15 miles, socializing, drinking beer. And the morning of the event she was on her indoor trainer, working out, not just warming up. No proper rest days or prep.

Sure, there have been and are some much younger, fitter athletes who can get away with that, but by our 30s we don't have the kind of excess energy to burn and still do well the next day or so in competition.

Another example was Phil Gaimon's recent KOM attempt in Colombia. Not only no KOM, he bailed out. Very unusual for him. But he had a valid excuse. His Colombia visit video wasn't just bike riding but a mini-travelogue, and better for it. The day before the KOM attempt he hiked in the mountains. So he started out with dead legs.

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Old 04-18-19, 11:08 PM
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Originally Posted by blacknbluebikes View Post
don't overthink it.
This! If you enjoy riding bikes, youíll find a way to finish. I didnít need a training plan or tapering or any of that crap for my first century. I just got on my bike in the morning and I ended the day with over 100 miles.
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Old 04-19-19, 06:36 AM
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Originally Posted by maartendc View Post
What has been successful for you in preparing for a century? Do you taper for two weeks? What do you do the week leading up?

Thanks!
I might not do a lot during the few days before a century, but tapering for 2 weeks shouldn't be necessary.
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Old 04-19-19, 07:43 AM
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It is said that you can ride in a day what you typically ride in a week. I find this to be true. If you're regularly doing 200km weeks, an imperial century will be fine physically. It's tougher mentally, because after around 80 miles there always seems to be a part of the brain that says, "Why are we doing this? We could literally be doing anything else."

I don't "taper" or anything like. I've blissfully not done an imperial century in about 6 months, but the last one was preceded by back-to-back metric centuries. 63 on Tuesday, 64 on Wednesday, 25 on Thursday, 102 on Saturday. Normal.
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Old 04-19-19, 08:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
I might not do a lot during the few days before a century, but tapering for 2 weeks shouldn't be necessary.
Thanks, good to know! I guess I was reading articles meant for more serious athletes competing in races and training daily... I am not trying to overthink it, was just curious what the best strategy was in the week leading up, so as to start as fresh as possible.

Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
It is said that you can ride in a day what you typically ride in a week. I find this to be true. If you're regularly doing 200km weeks, an imperial century will be fine physically. It's tougher mentally, because after around 80 miles there always seems to be a part of the brain that says, "Why are we doing this? We could literally be doing anything else."

I don't "taper" or anything like.
Thanks for the tips! Yeah I should be well-enough prepared I think, doing 180k-200k weeks last week and this week. I think I'll be quite motivated to finish, but I've never done the distance, so we will see.

Originally Posted by base2 View Post
Or you could just go ride 5 twenty mile rides from one rest stop to the next.
I wouldn't think riding a century would need any taper. Especially with a low volume 75 mile week. A rest day or 2 before hand is one thing, but anything 3 days or more is going to start declining fitness.

If you are doing 75 mile weeks already, keep that up. Front load Mon, Tue, Wed wit 3 moderate 25 mile rides. Then rest, stretch, yoga or walking or some other leisure activity on Thursday, Friday, then just go ride it Saturday.

No big deal. YOU CAN DO IT!
Thanks, great suggestions! Yeah I did a 40k ride yesterday, a distance which is very easy for me now, even going full gas. So I just need to do 4 of those, easy peasy. LOL

Good tip, doing some riding early in the week, and doing 2 rest days prior to the event. Interesting that you say 3 rest days+ might start losing fitness. I do commute to work (only 3 miles each way) so I will keep doing that at an easy pace every day in any case.

Originally Posted by surak View Post
Are you riding a supported century with rest stops? I wouldn't worry about tapering that much, just follow your original training plan. Don't go too hard in the first half of your ride, eat and drink throughout but avoid lingering at a stop too long stuffing yourself, and you'll have a great time.
Yes, it is supported with rest stops. Thanks for the suggestion, I will plan on sticking mostly to my training plan. I am still planning to bring most of my own food (granola bars and bananas typically work for me), because I am not sure what type of food they will have at the rest stops. Don't want to start experimenting with different food at the event in case it upsets my stomach.
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Old 04-19-19, 09:10 AM
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The week leading up to the event, what do you do? Some people suggest getting off the bike completely. Others say to do some interval sessions.
What has been successful for you in preparing for a century? Do you taper for two weeks? What do you do the week leading up?
Yeah - usually the most successful Century advice is to "start slow and taper." - But seriously, your post does reveal something about your current approach to a Century ride.

All the focus on your training calendar and all your attention to training tips may likely serve the purpose of distracting you from your own insecurity around your actual ability.

I would suggest you keep to all your normal routines, plan for getting a complete day of rest the day before the ride, and don't eat or drink anything abnormally the might before.

The simple truth to successful long distance bicycle riding is to start with a comfortable pace, listen to your body and keep your focus on reaching your next stop without straining yourself.
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Old 04-22-19, 07:35 PM
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Originally Posted by maartendc View Post
Hello all,

I have been following an 8-week training schedule (see image below) to prepare for my first century, gradually increasing my training of endurance rides on the weekend from 45 miles to about 75 miles on week 6.

Jeez - 8 weeks training for a century? Are you shooting for under 4 hours?

Seriously, I trained 8 weeks for a competitive 10K event, and after 3 weeks my times started declining. Scary. Fortunately, I had time to reboot, and backed off dramatically the last two weeks. I suspect I'm much older than you, but my experience reinforces that this body doesn't like to be over trained, ...frankly I'd prefer a bit of under training to over training if I'm competing.

Big picture, I think you will enjoy your century more if you begin fresh, loose and relaxed with a plan to smell the flowers along the way. As been said, don't over think it.

Oh, and I won my age group on the 10K by minutes, and had a fun run.
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Old 04-26-19, 11:56 AM
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For my target ride this July, I have a 9 month training plan. Starting to see some results now.
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Old 04-26-19, 02:37 PM
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Keep in mind what type of Century Ride you are doing. Most around me are not races. Even the ones that do have timekeeping are not intended to be a race. Just enjoy it. If it takes you seven hours, eight hours or to the next morning to complete it, no one will think bad of you. In fact you have bragging rights that you kept the determination to the finish.

Your overall time can be shortened considerably by just keeping your time at rest stops to a minimum. Though you miss out on a lot of the social that way. I myself don't stay long because it's hard for me to get going again after more than a five or ten minute stop. And perhaps I'm just not a very social person.
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Old 04-26-19, 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
It is said that you can ride in a day what you typically ride in a week. I find this to be true. If you're regularly doing 200km weeks, an imperial century will be fine physically. It's tougher mentally, because after around 80 miles there always seems to be a part of the brain that says, "Why are we doing this? We could literally be doing anything else."

I don't "taper" or anything like. I've blissfully not done an imperial century in about 6 months, but the last one was preceded by back-to-back metric centuries. 63 on Tuesday, 64 on Wednesday, 25 on Thursday, 102 on Saturday. Normal.
Yeah, riding your weekly total in a day sounds doable.

Ha, when I do the occasional 100 miles, I look at the odometer after what seems like a big portion of the ride. But it'll show "24 miles" or "22.4 miles". What! I still have 75 or more to go -- whoa! But after 40-60 miles, I know I can finish. I've stopped at a rest stop with maybe 7 miles to go, and it helped.
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Old 04-26-19, 06:54 PM
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I know plenty of cyclists who have never ridden more than about 80 miles, and have been cycling for years and years. Probably an equal number who have ridden 100 or more miles exactly once. A buddy of mine has been riding for 15+ years and rode his first imperial century last year.

So as has been said, just finishing it is an accomplishment in itself. And as I've said many times before, people really overthink it. A century isn't that hard. The hardest part for me is mental, because I've ridden thirteen out of my fourteen 100+ mile rides solo and unsupported. If you're with other people, it gets so, so much easier. The miles past 80 when tired and hungry, just me alone with my thoughts... those are rough miles.
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Old 04-27-19, 08:45 AM
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Stop at the rest stops, grab some food and drink, hit the porta-potty, and go. 100 miles sounds like a lot, but the only thing that ever bothers me is the saddle. I just want to be off that damn seat.

Some other advice. Try to start at the front of the pack but settle in the middle. Don't overdo the first 10-20 miles, find your comfortable pace there and just stay with it. The most discouraging part of the ride is around 50 miles or so when you are getting tired and realize you are only half finished. I always get a burst of energy at around 70-80 when I see the end in sight.

Overall though if you can do a 50 mile solo ride and not be dead at the end, 100 isn't that hard. If you've trained for it it'll be a piece of cake.
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