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Training For a Four-Day Tour

Ask a Pro — Diane Stibbard

Coach, Personal Trainer, and Two-Time Canadian Duathlete of the Year

Diane Stibbard - two-time dualthlete of the year

Question: “How do you train for a four-day very hilly 300 km tour, if you only have three days a week to train?”

Diane’s reply: 
We could all do with more time in our day. Unfortunately, we live busy lives. Work, family and social commitments cut into the time spent in the saddle. Does this mean you should choose a shorter event which may require less preparation? Or can you train smarter with less time but still be prepared for the rigors of a multi-day event? I believe with the right training program and the right amount of lead time to prepare for such a rigorous event like the one the reader asks about, it is definitely possible.

Before committing yourself to such an event, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself.

1. Given that I only have three days per week to commit to training, do I have enough lead time to prepare? I suggest on only three days per week, you would need at least two months of preparation, as there are always things that come up cutting three days/week to two days per week. These unexpected snags can take the form of bad weather, illness, and family/work commitments on your designated riding days. Life is always getting in the way but you can minimize the effects of that on your training by giving yourself more preparation time than you think you’ll need.

2. Can I train on similar terrain as the event? This is equally important. Riding on flat terrain verses hilly terrain requires a different level of conditioning. This is known as “specificity,” which means you are doing the same type of riding you will be doing in the event. For a hilly tour you need to be conditioning your body on hilly terrain. Therefore, I suggest that one day per week in your training over the two months, you find a loop around 30-40 km, and ride the loop multiple times to simulate riding an event with many hills.

3. Can I do one longer ride per week? Given the tour is 300 km spread over four days, you are bound to have a few days over 75 km. So you would need to build up one ride a week to 75 km. It’s not essential to do multiple days of 75 kms in a week, but one day per week would be required by the end of your two months to ensure that your body is conditioned to being in the saddle for this length of time.

Depending on your schedule, this training day would need to be done on a day when you have the time to be out on the bike for several hours. The time it would take depends on your riding speed. For example, if you ride at 25km/hr., then a 75 km ride will take you three hours. At 20km/hr., you would need just under four hours of ride time. If you are taking food and washroom breaks, then you need to factor an additional 20-30 minutes.

The three questions I pose above will allow you to be as prepared as you can be training only three days per week. That does not mean you couldn’t do a hilly multi-day event with less training. With many stops and breaks you may still be able to complete the event. However, to enjoy the event and to feel strong and not struggle through every last kilometer, I suggest asking yourself the above questions before committing to such a tour.

As I say to my cycling clients, “It’s not just about completing an event. It’s about how you complete the event.” I always encourage cyclists to be well prepared. It not only gives the body the proper conditioning it needs, but also encourages participation in other tours and events.

So set a goal, ask yourself the right questions, and get out there and ride. See you on the road.

Training for a two-day cycling eventDiane provides training programs for recreational and competitive cyclists, duathletes and triathletes, including nutritional counseling and personal training. Does your company need a fitness consultant? Get in touch with Diane to discuss fitness seminars for corporations

You want personal training but don’t live near Diane? No problem. Diane does email and telephone consultations. To learn more, visit Diane’s website or contact her at

Check out Diane’s e-programs: Keeping Fit in the Off-Season and Training For a Two-Day Charity Event For the Time-Starved Cyclist.

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