How much training do I need to do and when should I do it?
The amount of training you will need to do so that you can cycle from Lands End to John O’Groats will depend on your current fitness level and what the objectives of your ride are. If you are a regular cyclist and you intend to take a leisurely three week tour your training requirements will be somewhat less than someone who hasn’t been on a bike since they were a kid, doesn’t do much exercise and wants to complete a charity End to End in a week.
As to when – preferably before the ride!
In truth, if you are an active cyclist and you are taking a couple of weeks for the trip you might get away without any training at all, providing you are prepared to suffer a bit on the way. By active I mean that you are used to riding distances of 70 miles plus and cycle at least an average of 50 miles a week, every week.
If you are intending to take less time you will need to do some training, unless you are already pretty fit.
What sort of training should I do?
You can use your training to improve your speed and/or your endurance. Probably the most pertinent for an end to end cycle will be endurance but you may wish to improve your speed if, for instance, you are riding in a group and are worried about holding the rest up or you want to cover a prodigious number of miles a day and also want as long as possible to recover before you start again the next day.
The basic principle of any training is to stress the body so that it adapts to the new pressures being put on it. There are two main factors here, firstly you have to push the body harder than you normally do in order to achieve any gains and secondly you need to give the body time to recover and rebuild itself after each stress session. If you do not do both of these things you will not get full value out of your training.
In terms of improving your endurance you will need to concentrate on increasing the duration and frequency of your rides at a given level of effort. To up your speed you will need to increase the intensity of your riding using intervals to push your body’s capacity to process oxygen and nutrients more rapidly and efficiently (this will also have a positive knock on effect for your endurance).
Also of importance, but often ignored by many cyclists, are off bike exercises to improve flexibility and strength. To save you valuable time and considerable effort I have scoured the internet and tried out many exercises on your behalf and have produced a summary of both stretching exercises and strength exercises for cyclists.
Use the links below to find out more about each training discipline:
As a final word on training, make sure you agree your training plan with your partner, if you have one. Remember that they will probably be taking on a lot of extra household burdens, plus possibly ferrying you around to events. That’s not to mention having to listen to your constant barrage of moans and groans (lows) and excited speculations and hypothesizing about the ride itself (highs).If you are lucky enough to have a partner by the end of the venture a little thanks would not go amiss.
Three books are available related to this website (including gpx route files) as ebooks or paperbacks. As little as £2.99 each or all three for £5.98. That’s less than an inner tube or a Costa coffee with a slice of cake.
Where to next?
The most popular pages on the site concern planning your End to End, thinking about the cycling equipment you will need, what you should be eating and drinking whilst cycling and how to create a route for Lands End to John O Groats. Or you can read my own account of cycling End to End to get some idea of what to expect.