The Limited Outside Rider
If you are stuck indoors for a significant amount of your training and only occasionally get an opportunity to ride outside, then you need to train much like the weekend rider with the addition of longer indoor sessions. Here, you follow the same protocol as listed above during the week. Then, if you are also stuck inside for the weekend, take the rides listed above and modify them slightly. Do the two X 20 minutes or the three X 10 minutes, adding a little saddle time in after the recovery for the last efforts. Doing an additional 15 to 20 minutes at 75 to 80 percent of your FTP, then doing the final cool down, can help build your endurance.
When you do get outside again, you’ll want to think about the timing of the event. Plan your ride accordingly so that it falls on the incremental building phases in the graphic above. Even with limited outside riding, you still want to rest one week prior to the century.
The Unlimited Rider
The unlimited rider is the envy of those who follow the training advice above. Your training will be based on the same principles of quality and quantity, however there is no need to ride indoors. The weekly quality sessions are the same as above but are completed while riding outside. As an unlimited rider, you have the same objectives of one or two LT building days mixed in with recovery days. And, just like the previous two scenarios, you build endurance incrementally on the weekends. The final step is resting one week prior to the big ride.
When training for a century, your primary goal is to build your endurance. While there is no “proof” as to which is better, the trainer or the road, I am of the personal opinion that for most of us, using the trainer for quality and the road for quantity is a solid combination that works. While there are some that ride endless hours indoors, I would never ask my athletes to log more than two hours on an indoor trainer. The key is to plan to meet your goal in steps and train regardless of what Mother Nature gives you. The road provides a lot of variability while the trainer provides structure. Both types of rides will prepare you for a successful century.
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