Why Your Cycling Endurance Training Plan Can Make You Fast

Building Your Cycling Endurance Improves Endurance Capacity, Strength, and Speed

In a “normal” year, we’d all be checking off the adventures, events, rides, and races we targeted over the winter and spring.

We would use periodization and a cycling endurance training plan to plan out our training to arrive at a peak fitness for our event, whatever it was.

But this, clearly, is not a normal year.

However, it IS a year that we can really focusing on building our endurance on the bike!

And when we build endurance for this year, we can carry that fitness into 2021!

A cycling endurance training plan improves the quality and quantity of mitochondria, which creates more endurance capacity, strength, and speed.
A cycling endurance training plan improves the quality and quantity of mitochondria, which creates more endurance capacity, strength, and speed.

A cycling endurance training plan brings big benefits down the road

In some ways, we can think of this year as a season off due to injury or life events.

We can look at 2020 as a year of building a massive base, finding some new adventures on the bike, and maybe even falling in love with riding all over again.

While it’s possible we may get a fall season of rides, cyclocross, and gravel, I’m not betting any money on that.

Instead, we can focus the rest of the year on building a giant base through a purposeful cycling endurance training plan.

That means we focus on riding a lot of fun miles where we see sites stop for coffee, and listen to podcasts.

We can create our own cycling adventures by picking some place to visit, planning out a ride, and making the trip.

Build endurance by riding lots

For example, right now, I’m recovering from arm surgery. I can’t get outside on the bike yet.

But I can plan for adventures.

I grew up in Eau Claire, WI, and my mom and sisters still live there.

So I’m planning a ride from Milwaukee to Eau Claire, about 250 miles, over a couple of days, just riding all day.

I planned several routes, and I’ll study them to decide which is the best.

That kind of trip is putting in a lot of endurance miles, training that will make me faster and stronger next season. It’s part of my cycling endurance training plan for 2021.

It’s also fun and motivating to plan out an adventure like that!

Mitochondria are the fuel of endurance

Why build a base of endurance fitness?

Very simply put, the more endurance miles we ride, the more mitochondria we build in our muscle.

Mitochondria are the fuel cells for the muscles.

The more we have, the more fuel we can send to the muscles, enabling them to work more efficiently and for longer periods. And these endurance rides also allow us to go faster and harder when the time comes.

A cycling endurance training plan improves the quality and quantity of mitochondria, which creates more endurance capacity, strength, and speed.

Here’s some background information on the discovery of how more exercise meant more mitochondria, which, in turn, meant more speed and endurance.

Not just miles but lifting heavy things and intervals

Recent research is suggesting that in addition to putting the time in on the bike, lifting heavy things and doing intervals also builds endurance.

Building strength by lifting heavy things also increases the muscle’s capacity to do more by creating more mitochondria AND making them more efficient at producing energy.

And HIIT sessions kicks up the endurance adaption to exercise even more.

The downside of both strength training and HIIT is that you can’t do them every day. Your body can’t recover.

You can, though, do low-intensity miles nearly every day, if you plan your recovery right.

Lots of endurance miles, HIIT sessions, strength training, and recovery are the key elements of polarized training at Simple Endurance.

Only recovery makes the adaptations possible

There is an adage for training: gains are made when you sleep.

That’s truth.

Recovery days, yoga, proper and adequate fueling , and hydration are all key elements to rebuild our muscles and make them stronger that before.

Start off slowly and build your mileage up gradually.

Imagine that your body is a house, and training and other stressors are the weather and elements. You begin with a house made of straw, and your first bout of training is like a gust of wind. It knocks out a few walls and so you build them back up. If you have the means, you’ll probably build the new walls from brick. When the next bout of exercise comes along, your walls are more resilient, and this time nothing crumbles. You keep training, and as you do, you increase your training load, or stress, by lifting more weights, running more miles, or throwing more pitches.

Christie Aschwander, Good to Go

How do I create a cycling endurance training plan?

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