So, you’ve decided to take on your first charity bike ride. Charity fitness challenges can be some of the most rewarding things you can do – for yourself and for others. You can get fitter, contribute positively to the life of someone who needs your help, and if you’re new to cycling, discover a fantastic new hobby.
But where do you start? Whether you’re already a cyclist, or you are completely new to the sport, you still need to prepare yourself, mentally and physically, for the challenge. Here are my top tips.
Training for your first charity bike ride
There are always training plans available to suit your fitness level, and the distance and terrain of your race. Usually, you can get plans from the event organiser’s websites, which should at least give you a good starting point, and an idea of when you should start training.
You can’t start training soon enough for your first charity bike ride. If you’re new to the sport, give yourself a good three to six months, depending on how intensely you’re planning on preparing. This doesn’t mean you have to get the miles under your belt straight away; any type of exercise is a great start. So whether it’s jogging, walking to work, a swim after work, or jumping straight on to a bike, getting going is the key. After that train three or four times per week, mixing up longer rides (and increasing the distance) with shorter-distanced, quicker ones.
For seasoned cyclists training is all about goals. Maybe you’ve set yourself a time challenge; if so, your training is going to be focused on building up your speed, as well as covering the distance. Mix up your training sessions, making sure you go on longer rides so that your endurance will be sufficiently built up to cover the distance, and shorter rides that really focus on building up speed. Interval sprints on these type of rides will also help increase your speed, and should definitely be included. If you think you’ll be pushing yourself to your limits on the big day, seek advice from an expert or a personal trainer
Recovery is as an essential part of the preparation. So, yes, this means including rest days, and listening to your body! If something is hurting, stop before it becomes an injury. An unexpected day off won’t ruin your training, but torn muscles can take weeks to repair, and take out big chunks of your plan.
To aid your recovery, it could be worth trying out protein shakes after you’ve been exercising. They work by helping to repair the muscle fibres that are torn when you exercise, letting you get back to work quickly. They’re a great fix after gym or cycling sessions, and could really enhance your training.
Water, water, water! I can’t stress this enough! Hydrating your body before during and after the charity bike ride is really important. You will benefit from getting into the habit of drinking water regularly throughout the day, as it really helps your body to function properly, so make sure you’re getting enough.
You’ll also need to fuel your engine. During training, eating fresh, clean meals is essential. Ensure you get the right balance of protein, carbohydrates and good fats which will provide energy for your exercise, and aid muscle repair. Lean protein meats like chicken and fish are great, and you’ll need carbohydrates to keep going – try rice or sweet potatoes the night before and porridge for breakfast on the day of the event. If you’re hungry during the ride, snack on nuts for a little added energy boost that’s healthy. Gels, cereal bars, flap jacks and jelly sweets are also great sources of energy that you can easily pack and keep close by in your jersey pockets.
I’d love to hear what charity bike rides you have planned for 2016. Let me know in the comments.
*This post is in collaboration with Maxi Nutrition*