A Commuter Rides a Century: A Century Ride Training Plan

Follow Active.com Editor Brian Kendall as he trains for his first century ride. Check out his last entry here.

I don't think my cycling skills merit the title "weekend warrior," but I am a weekend rider, nonetheless—or to put it more precisely, a Sunday cruiser.

However, as I prepare for my first century ride, I realize these freshman cycling habits will not increase my endurance, pedal power or the size of my quads. As it turns out, riding 30 miles a week will not properly prepare me for riding 100 miles in a single day.

Or, as my loving fianc?e once calmly explained to me, "You are going to die!"

Such words of encouragement aside, I've realized that to complete this colossal task, I need to pick a training plan, and—more importantly—stick to it.

Picking a Plan

I'm fortunate enough to work in an office that not only encourages an active lifestyle, but demands it.

It also helps when the name of said company is ACTIVE (it's really all caps), and they happen to be the masterminds behind one of the world's most popular training plans, Couch to 5K.

But you don't have to be gunning for a 5K—or even a runner—to enjoy one of ACTIVE's great training plans. If you go to trainer.active.com, you will find mounds of plans for cyclists, runners and walkers alike. No matter your preferred method of keeping your cardio in tip-top shape or your level of experience, you'll find a training plan for you.

For me, essentially a beginner cyclist tackling a century, I went with the aptly titled Beginner Cyclist Training for a Century.

The trainer gives you a calendar of when you're supposed to ride and what you should accomplish that day. You can also log your ride, keep up with your progress and invite your fellow cycling buddies to join the plan, too.

However, just because ACTIVE's training plan suits me, doesn't mean it's the right plan for you. Surf around the web, try out different apps, sign up for classes or speak to your local bike shop. There's no one way to train for a century. In fact, when you have time and a bike (the yin and yang to a great life, mind you) the possibilities are nearly limitless.

A Plan of Attack

With just five months to go before taking my first pedal stroke toward completing 100 miles in one day, it's time to get serious.

I've gone through all of the typical stages: overconfidence followed by denial followed by brainstorming ways to get out of it, which ultimately led to acceptance, and now I'm ready to put on my helmet, get on my bike and pedal toward glory.

The plan calls for five days of cycling per week, which means weekdays will become more than just workdays but training days, as well. For someone who works full-time from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, it's tough to find the time to fit this in my schedule. However, as the weather warms, I plan to use my daily commute to amass the miles and minutes I need in the saddle.

My colleagues might not appreciate a coworker arriving in a sweat-drenched cycling kit Tuesday through Thursday, but a combination of sincere apologies and a quick trip to the restroom to douse myself in cleansing wipes might keep the complaints at bay.

As far as the plan itself, it's a mix of strength and endurance training coupled with a focus on form and efficiency. All of these are an absolute necessity for a century ride, putting to rest any thoughts that a daily cruise about town is all you need.

The first month requires an hour in the saddle for each ride, mixing in short sprints as part of your mileage. Training increases in duration and intensity as you progress through the program; For example, the second month ramps up considerably, with around 2.5 hours spent in the saddle for each workout..

With this training plan—and a strong dose of reality setting in—I'll prove my fianc?e wrong and be alive, potentially with massive quads, for our wedding.

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  • A Commuter Rides a Century (Part I)
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