Taking a steady, regular and progressive approach to your preparation will ensure that you can complete the Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle.
Everybody is at a different level of fitness and has different lifestyles and expectations, so it is difficult to give a week-by-week training plan that would suit everybody. Therefore, you can adapt these basic monthly guidelines to suit your particular circumstances.
The two key principles to keep in mind at all times are:
1. Consistency - ride your bike as much as possible
2. Progression - begin at a level comfortable for you and progress slowly but steadily.
If you don't have a good fitness base:
- This month is all about building basic fitness -slow, steady miles at a pace which is comfortable enough to conduct a conversation
- Try to ride as often as you can, however short - at least four times per week would be ideal
- If you have to take a break for any reason don't let it discourage you - just get back into your routine as quickly as possible
- Don't let a bit of rain put you off - you might enjoy it
- Practice using gears regularly and keeping your cadence high
- Focus on spending time on the saddle rather than on average speed
- Aim for one long ride per week, beginning at an hour and aim to complete 25 miles (40K) in one ride by the end of the month
- Get your saddle height checked and learn the feel of correct air pressure in your tyres
- If you are going for weight-loss, eat well and sparingly and aim for a 4lb. (1.8Kg) loss for the month
- Expect mild aches and discomforts as the body adapts but distinguish these from niggling or developing injuries which should be checked
- If you are feeling particularly tired for any session, still try to motivate yourself to get out but go at a very slow pace - think of it as going for an easy walk on your bike - and you will still get benefit from this
- See our General Guidelines for further advice
If you are starting with a good base of fitness but are not so used to cycling:
- Do all of the above for the first two weeks
- On the third week include a harder session with some intensity as described under the Fitness heading
- Extend you long ride to a distance you are capable of
- See our General Guidelines for further advice
You will have some basic fitness developed if you were riding in April and May is a good month to consolidate and develop this: the weather is better, the evenings are longer and it is a lovely time of the year to be out on your bike.
If you didn’t get started last month there is still time to get ready – check back in the April advice please.
Whatever your level of fitness or experience, the three most important points to keep in mind for the month of May are:
- Consistency: ride at least three times per week, every week, and four is even better.
- Progression: gradually extend you mileage each week (or increase your pace if you are short of time) and increase the number of sessions if possible and if you are not feeling too tired.
- Extend one long ride per week especially: if you are a beginner aim for at least 60K (37 miles) by the end of the month, or longer if you are more fit or experienced.
We have suggested that the Ring of Kerry challenge may seem less daunting if you think of it as four separate segments or chunks of approximately 40K (25 miles) each with breaks in between.
In April we suggested 40K (25 miles) as your target and for May you could set 80K (50 miles) as your target long ride. This might be easiest done at a sportive, charity or club cycle, or with a group of friends. However, don’t be put off if this isn’t feasible for any reason.
If you want to further boost your fitness, and especially if you are short on time, a little added intensity will make a difference (but it is not essential to complete the Ring of Kerry).
Unless you are quite fit it is advisable not to do more than two hard sessions per week – more will break down the body rather than strengthen it. Once per week is enough If you are relatively new to this level of training and it is best to avoid it unless you have completed a number of weeks of basic, slow endurance training. Remember, time spent on the bike is key for endurance and you will still be able to complete The Ring without this type of training.
There are a number of ways to include intensity:
- If you are a beginner do one session a week which brings you out of your comfort zone to a level that makes conversation difficult – see the section on ‘Fitness’ in our General Guidelines on Preparation.
- If you have a good level of fitness try one ‘tempo’ session a week (moderate-hard but sustainable, with conversation difficult) of between 20 and 40 minutes.
- As an alternative, or in addition if you are fit, you could do one session of very hard efforts of between 2 and 5 minutes (10-12 minutes in total). Allow at least 5 minutes of recovery at an easy pace in between.
- If you ride with a group that includes people of a higher standard you may get adequate intensity during those rides.
- Always take a day off after hard sessions or go for a very easy spin of less than an hour – treat the level effort the same as going for a walk.
If you have been able to ride consistency and have been progressively increasing your mileage or time, it is very important that you take a recovery week during the last week of May, especially if you are feeling tired or finding it difficult to stay motivated.
Remember, fitness occurs as the body responds to the effort and, if you have been progressively increasing that effort, the body needs recovery time to fully adapt to the extra load. This is when fitness occurs.
It will also help to refresh yourself mentally and get you ready for the final block of preparation in June.
If you need a recovery week a general guideline is to cut back on your volume between 50-75%. The exception is your weekly long ride – don’t cut back on this but keep your effort low. The end of a recovery period is a good time to do this extra-long spin as you will be feeling fresh.
Good quality food and good sleep will aid your recovery.
In addition to these and the general tips given for April, the following may be helpful:
- Time on the bike is more important than speed – reduce your speed if necessary in order to get in the distance, especially on your long rides
- Consider entering a sportive or charity cycle this month – it will make the long miles seem easier and will be good experience
- If you are aiming for weight-loss, continue to eat well and don’t be tempted to eat extra as a ‘reward’ for your training!
- If convenient do some long climbs with an easy gradient to practice your pacing (steady, at a high cadence using your gears)
- As your training load increases, the quality of your food (not volume) and sleep become more important
- Continue to practice the pacing, nutrition and hydration guidelines during your weekly long cycle.
Riding consistently through June and further building your distance will set you up for an enjoyable Ring of Kerry. Also, focus on the other suggestions we have made on pacing, nutrition, equipment, and skill (see our General Guidelines).
Your experience up to now is the best guide to the level of training you can sustain and try to gradually extend yourself further each week for the first three weeks of the month.
Along with the normal consistency and progression which we have stressed, you can set yourself a key target distance for June.
We have suggested mentally dividing the Ring of Kerry into four approximate segments and completing the distance of the first three this month will help ensure that you can complete the event.
Therefore, set yourself the target of approximately 120K (75 miles) in one ride, taking breaks if necessary. Practice your pacing and your nutrition during this ride. As in May, this may be easier at an organized event or with a group of a similar fitness level.
However, this in itself is a big challenge for some and not being able to do it for any reason shouldn’t rule out your attempt at the charity cycle.
It is very important that you take things easy during the final week and let your body recover from the weeks of effort to make sure that you are fresh on the day.
You want to be in the best ‘form’ for the Ring of Kerry, and form is a balance between fitness and freshness.
You will add very little to your fitness during the last week by ‘cramming’ further training, but you could ruin your freshness from making the body tired.
Therefore, back off quite a bit in the final week – approximately half your weekly effort for June – and get plenty of good food and sleep. Spend the ‘spare’ time checking your equipment and planning for the event.
The Evening Before
Enjoy a good meal the evening before but there is no need to overdo it – you will be having another good meal in the morning.
Alcohol will have a dehydrating effect and you can’t fully compensate for this before the ride by drinking extra water.
A breakfast of mainly ‘low glycaemic’ carbohydrates (slow burning, such as porridge) is ideal and it’s best to avoid a high proportion of fats as these are slower to be processed by the body.
The main thing is to keep a sense of perspective, enjoyment and fun. The Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle is mainly about supporting deserving charities, setting a personal challenge and having a memorable day on the road.
No matter how your preparation has gone there will be a big army of volunteers and thousands of supportive cyclists to make sure you complete your challenge and finish with a smile on your face and with a great sense of satisfaction.
Enjoy the day!