With focus, a comprehensive training program and proper pacing and nutrition during the event, it will still be a challenge, but one that can be completed.
To help you, I have put together a training program that can be followed to help you finish this classic endurance event. Intensity varies during each day of the program and there are four different heart rate "zones" you need to be aware of as you begin to train.
Heart rate zones
First, determine your maximum heart rate (max HR), by subtracting your age from 220 or by actually conducting a test on your bicycle indoors.
A much better method is with something called a "graduated stress test" that pushes you to max HR on the bike, either indoors or out. Like most tests, this one isn't fun, but it doesn't last too long, and you need to do it just once each season. Here are two ways:
Caution: A graduated stress test puts a tremendous strain on the heart muscle. We urge you to inform your doctor and obtain his or her permission before you undergo this extreme exertion.
Wearing your heart rate monitor, warm up well on your way to a long, fairly steep hill. Start the climb at a brisk pace, using a gear that would be a bit too big in normal circumstances. Get out of the saddle and push and push until your feel like you are about to fall over off your bike. Then sprint as if the world championship were depending on it.
Just as you slump into a quivering heap, the number you see on your heart rate monitor through your blurred vision is your max HR. This is when it's helpful to have a monitor that memorizes the highest heart rate attained.
Don't have a suitable hill? Then do a series of progressively harder efforts either on the road or on your indoor trainer. While maintaining a cadence of 90 to 100 revolutions per minute (rpm), increase your gears as necessary to boost your speed by 0.5 mph every 30 seconds.
Keep ramping up the intensity until you're making an extreme effort and your heart rate is red-lining.
Once you have your max HR, training becomes a matter of percentages. These define your heart rate zones. Workouts are then structured to keep you riding within specific ranges.
Here are guidelines on how the heart rate zones are established for your training.
Zone 1: Less than 65 percent of maximum heart rate.
Exertion in this zone promotes recovery and uses fat stores as the primary fuel source. If you are not using a heart-rate monitor, you should be able to talk easily while riding.
Zone 2: Between 65 percent to approximately 80 to 84 percent of your maximum heart rate.
This zone builds aerobic endurance. Talking can still take place at the lower percentages of this zone, but will become difficult at the higher percentages.
Zone 3: 85 to 90 percent of maximum heart rate.
To reach lactate threshold (LT), the point at which the greatest aerobic improvement occurs. You loose your ability to talk and breathing become heavy.
Zone 4: 90 to 100 percent of maximum heart rate.
Train in this zone to develop the anaerobic system for short bursts of max effort in sprinting or all-out climbing (not something that's essential to train for in endurance cycling, thank goodness).
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