This Sunday I’ll be cycling in the Prudential Ride London - a 100 mile round trip from London to Surrey. I did it in 2014 in the back end of a hurricane when it absolutely pissed it down the whole time (6 hours). Safe to say it was rewarding but miserable! This year at least the weather looks a lot better (fingers crossed) so I’m getting excited! I’m much more of a HIIT/Strength kinda gal and I do not care much for endurance exercise such as marathons, full triathlons or….100 mile cycles! But this is cool as they close all the roads and there’s always loads of people cheering you on. We cycle all the way from the Olympic Park to deepest darkest Surrey and back, finishing on the Mall.
CONFESSION: It’s Thursday and my bike is still gathering dust in our storage cupboard outside. Yes - I have not trained. Well, I have not trained cycling. I’ve not even been spinning. My ‘training’ has consisted of my regular weekly training: 2 heavy lower body resistance sessions, 2 heavy upper body resistance sessions, 2 GymClasses where I teach (HIIT/Strength combined www.gym-class.co.uk), 2 yoga and daily high step count. The only sniff of a cycle has been the air bike at GymClass….haha
Am I worried? NO!
Obviously it would have been more ideal for me to get out there on my bike and do some long cycles and I am not suggesting for one moment that it’s in my favour that I haven’t cycled at all. However - do I think that the fact my muscles are (for me) the strongest and most powerful they’ve ever been will help me? 100%. Do I think that all the HIIT I’ve been doing so that I’m the fittest I’ve ever been will ensure I can get round? Absolutely.
One of the things that gets massively overlooked by people when they decide to train for a major event in a discipline they don’t perhaps take part in regularly is strength and HIIT training. If you’re running a marathon - yes you need to train running and long runs for that endurance stamina - but you also need strong glutes and hamstrings to power your legs, along with a strong core. Cycling 100 miles is exactly the same - you need aerobic fitness but also strong muscles and you need to pull explosive power out the bag to get you up those hills!
Studies have shown that short bursts of maximal effort can help you get fit quickly and may stimulate the same cellular pathways as long steady state training. Less time training - same results. The other great thing about HIIT & plyometric training/power training (ie. box jumps) is that it works your fast twitch muscle fibres. You don’t need these so much in endurance exercise as your slow twitch do most the work, but in the final few miles of a race when your endurance system is knackered you might benefit from an extra injection of energy from trained fast twitch muscle fibres through HIIT. So when I get to the bottom of Wimbledon Hill nearing the end of the 100-miler, I know I’m going to need to call on my fast-twitch muscle fibres to get me the hell up it!
So I am testing this theory on Sunday! Whilst a combination of training across all systems is preferable….can you nail an endurance event without doing specific training for it, instead focussing on strength training/HIIT/Plyometrics? Well....guess I’ll let you know next week ;)