Century Training For Beginners

Riding a century is something many cyclists aspire too at some time in their cycling careers. With the right preparation riding a century is an achievable goal for most people. In this article we’ll break down some of the main things you’ll need to think about when starting your training.

Century-Training-For-Beginnnersimage by brianmatis

Weekly Long Ride

As is the case with marathon training one of the most important factors in training to ride a century is adding a weekly long ride into your training schedule. Each week you should aim to gradually increase the length of the long ride. These rides are often referred to as base miles,  LSD rides or Long Slow Distance. The emphasis should be on the length or time spent riding and not the speed. You should ride them at a comfortable pace, one that you can hold a conversation at and not get out of breath.


image by djking

A weekly long ride will help get your body used to riding for extended periods as well as improving your overall endurance fitness. Another key benefit these long ride will bring is the psychological boost from knowing you can ride comfortably over an extended period of time meaning when it comes to century ride day you’ll be far more relaxed.

These rides will also make your body much more efficient at delivering oxygen to your muscles, ensuring when it comes to your century ride you’ll be able to maintain a higher pace for longer.

Join a Cycling Club

Not all cycling clubs are full of snobbish riders that only ride over 25mph. In fact most clubs are full of friendly riders that encourage others and welcome new, less experienced members. Most clubs have regular weekend club runs and non members are usually welcome to go along for a few times before joining. Joining a club will not only help take away the boredom of training alone but it will also help you gain valuable bike handling skills as well as fitness.


image by Sylvain Elies

How good are your group riding skills? Most organized century rides are mass participation events. During the ride it is essential you have experience of riding in a group as if you’re not used to it riding at 20mph surrounded on all side by other cyclists can be an unnerving experience.

Riding a weekly club run will soon get you used to group riding and will make you feel much more relaxed about doing so on race day. By removing another unknown you’ll make your century ride much less daunting.

Get Serious

Riding a century is akin to running a marathon, with the right preparation and training virtually anyone can do. However underestimate the task in hand and the experience will be unenjoyable at best, painful and destined for failure at worst. Therefore it is essential you get serious about your training. Work out how much spare time you have and when/where you’ll be able to train – will you be forced to spend some time training in the gym or can you always ride outside?.

If you want to give the century your best you’ll have to dedicate some serious time to training. Make sure you inform and involve your family, friends and colleagues in your training plans as they’ll probably be affected by the hours you’re going to have to put in on the saddle. Also sharing your goals and plans will help to keep you motivated to train.

Don’t just focus on your training alone. To get the most out of your body you’ll need to think about other factors such as ensuring you get enough sleep and ensuring you have a healthy cycling friendly diet to provide your body with what it needs.

Get Your Equipment in Check

You don’t need to spend thousands on a full carbon race bike to complete a century ride. A road bike is preferable however with slick tyres a mountain bike or hybrid will do the job at a push. You’ll be spending long hours in the saddle to it is crucial to get a bike with the right frame size and ensure it fits you properly.

Once you have your bike set up correctly, make sure you are comfortable with some basic maintenance/repair techniques. As well as regularly cleaning your bike after rides, you should be able to:

  • Repair/replace a flat inner tub
  • Fix a broken chain
  • Adjust gears and brakes as necessary
  • Check the headset, bottom bracket, cranks and wheels

Your bike is a big part of your century ride so it is crucial you look after it. It can be a bit daunting at first to perform some of the maintenance jobs but with a little practice you’ll soon pick them up. If you have any strange noises coming from your bike check out this excellent cycling noise diagnosis site.

Also be sure to work out what kit you’ll carry during the ride. As a minimum you’ll need a spare inner tube, patch kit, pump or CO2 cartridges, money, phone, id, tyre levers and a chain tool. Make a list of stuff you’ll need and use your training rides to refine the kit list you take out with you.


image by fixedgear

Set Micro Goals

Riding for 100 miles (169km) can be a daunting task. One way to take away the fear factor and make your goal seem more attainable is to break your training down into a series of smaller, more achievable goals. Doing so will help you focus on short term goals on each ride you do meanwhile in the background you’ll be getting nearer and nearer to achieving your big goal of completing your century ride.

In order to help ensure your training progresses consider getting a structured training program. A proper training program will take the unknowns out of your training and provide you with a clear set of training objectives and workouts designed to maximize your fitness and ensure you peak at just the right time.


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