Spring has finally arrived, sort of, but for lots of us that means we aren’t in quite the shape we anticipated for the start of the season.

Yes, you’re in shape, but that shape is round! Is there anything you can realistically do to improve your fitness in just a matter of weeks?The answer, thankfully, is yes. Even just two weeks of preparation can make a difference to performance on the day, but let’s get a healthy dose of realism here. What you can achieve in a short period of time is based largely on what kind of riding you’ve been doing over the previous few months.

A steady dose of regular mileage, even if it wasn’t specifically ‘training’ means you’re starting from a much better place than if you’d done no riding at all, and you could realistically do a couple of weeks 
of intense preparation that would make 
a difference.

If you’ve done little or no riding at all it’s neither productive nor safe to suddenly introduce a high volume of miles and high intensity training into your life and expect to fly round the Etape with a grin on your face, win a local road race against seasoned first cats or go round the local TT loop quicker than Michael Hutchinson.

So be realistic, look at where you are in terms of fitness and preparedness for the event, and what you can do to make things easier on the day.

You can also make a big difference to how you perform on the day by lifestyle changes off the bike. Look at the reasons why you missed out on all the training in the first place. Too much time at work? Too many hours in the bar rather than on the bike?

Bad diet and late nights? Show some commitment to improving all these things in the weeks leading up to the event and you’re going to be in a far better place mentally and physically on the day.

Over the following six pages we offer three ways to approach your training for three very different kinds of event given just two, four or six weeks’ preparation time. Bear in mind that these are very generic and, as stated above, underlying levels of fitness and conditioning play a major role in what you might or might not be able to achieve in such a limited time.

How too ….


Survive a hilly cyclo-sportive


Nail a 1-hour circuit race


Stay on the pace in a 25-mile time trial

Training zones Effort You can… % MHR % FTP % FTHR
1 Easy Speak, sing and even dance! 65% or below up to 55% Up to 68%
2 Slow Chat freely around 70% 56-75% 69-83%
3a Steady Just about hold a conversation around 75% 76-85% 84-90%
3b Brisk One sentence at a time! around 80% 86-90% 91-94%
4 Threshold Manage short sentences at best around 85% 91-105% 95-105%
5 Hard Only get out the odd word 
(you’re breathing hard!) around 90% 106-120% 106% or more
6 Very Hard Grunt! Gasp! Pant! N/A 121-150% N/A

Cycling Weekly April 17 2014 issue
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