I am no coach and have not done that much study on the issue. However, you may be interested in the programme I've mapped out for myself. This is very much a provisional programme. My daughter has agreed to coach me, at least for a 3 month period, so may well change what I've come up with.
1. Overall structure
The plan consists of three 12-week macro-blocks, with each block broken into three 4-week micro-blocks. The end-point is, of course, the 640 km Maxi-Enduro around Lake Taupo at the end of November.
There are three of these, each lasting about 12 weeks. Each macro-block has a different main objective. In addition, each ends with an event or event-like ride, with the next macro-block starting with a week-long break.
- The objective will be to slowly and effectively build a solid combination of endurance and strength/speed.
- I will not hurry this. It's early in the training and I don't want to overdo it.
- Endurance rides to be mainly flat, mainly due to my current poor fitness levels.
- The end-event most likely to be the Manfield Challenge, a 6 hour event around a flat car-race track. I plan to time-trial it.
- The objective will be to build strength/speed, although with an endurance focus.
- The mid week strength/speed sessions will become more imporant.
- The endurance sessions will still be important, but will incorporate lots of hills. The distances will be slightly less, at least initially, but I plan to have ramped them up considerably by the end of the block.
- Not sure about the end-event. Currently thinking of Napier-Taihape-Napier "Gentle Annie" highway, which has a total distance of around 330 km and 4.5 km of climbing. Alternatively I could do the "Forgotten Highway" (Hawera-Turangi-Hawera) which is a bit longer. I'll see how things are going. If I feel up to a 24 hour hilly ride, even better.
- The objective will be to build up ulta-endurance fitness, with a focus on hills.
- Early weeks will focus on strength/speed, but this will quickly drop off and be replaced with a focus on ultra-distance on hills. (I'm not sure about this; maybe the other way around???)
- The main training focus will be on long hours on the bike over the week, but with individual rides no longer than 6 hours. However, some overnight rides will be incorporated later. I might also put in a very long ride in the middle of the block, but will need to be careful because of the length of recovery it will require.
- The end-event is of course the Maxi-Enduro!
- Each micro-blocks will consist of four weeks.
- The micro-blocks will increase in intensity/distance, as will the weeks within each micro-block.
- The first week will be the easiest, being a recovery-week from the previous micro-block. The last week will be the hardest. Maybe the third week will be slightly easier or at least not as much of a ramp-up on the previous week as otherwise.
- I'm currently thinking of the 2nd and 4th weeks having more of an endurance focus, with the 3rd week having a stength/speed focus. The main difference will be that, for the 2nd and 4th weeks, one of the mid-week rides will be a longer endurance-speed ride rather than a tempo/efforts ride.
- The weeks will generally have a long Saturday ride followed by a short active-recovery ride on Sunday, with the strength/speed work on the week-days.
- The week-day rides will be before work. This is because I find it difficult to sleep after evening rides, especially if they are intense or long.
- I'm currently thinking of having two rest days during the week, maybe Monday and Friday although with some flexibility.
- As endurance-distance is added to the programme, the 6-hour ride limit means that I will also need to add other endurance-days. I'm not sure how to do this. I'm currently thinking of making Wednesday morning my long extra ride. Initially this will mean really early mornings, but as the time required approaches 6 hours, I'll commute to and from work (around 6 hours I think). Further week days will also need to be added.
2. General principles
- Do not over-do things! The focus will be on effective training, not over-training! If things are too much, incorporate more rest days and/or reduce volume and intensity.
- Endurance-ride times must not increase more than 46.4% on their time 4 weeks ago. This works out at a 10% average weekly increase. The same goes for total weekly hours, but the reality is that these will rise more slowly.
- Always be aware of technique. Do not sacrifice technique when challenged by intense or long rides!
- Time on bike is also important; i.e. getting my body used to long hours. So don't substitute this too much for other types of exercise.
- When doing efforts, don't just do the one length but mix them up. Also, as I get fitter, incorporate the odd effort into the longer endurance rides, although not at the expense of the endurance focus. Obviously the efforts will tend to be for longer periods than others might do, but should also include some shorter periods.
- Weights, other strength work, and stretching will need to be incorporated into the programme. I'm not sure how or when. Currently I'm thinking of doing it most evenings when I return home, before dinner. I will need to alternate between different types of such work. I need to be careful of my knee.
3. The programme: