Long Slow Distance - Endurance Workout  


    Long rides at 70% increase the stroke volume of your heart and improve it's endurance. The bigger the heart's stroke volume, also means the more blood is pumped to and from the lungs and muscles. Long rides also create more blood vessels and capillaries.

    On the other hand, sprints, intervals and short time trials improve anaerobic capacity and quickness. When you correctly put the 2 together: long rides + anaerobic rides = YOU GO FASTER in racing and in training.

    Long rides help you sprint faster because, if you have been doing the long Wednesday rides, then you will get to the sprint less fatigued. Further, during a sprint, as you produce lactic acid, the increased blood flow from the long rides will move that lactic acid out of your muscles quicker. And you will have more capillaries to move that extra blood.

    In other words, the long miles will not make your sprint quicker, but it will make more of of your sprint available to you. If you can go like a rocket at the track, but flounder at the end of criteriums or road races, then more endurance means you will be more like Sagan at the end of a race.

How To:
   Do your homework so you are very good at these:

    Be very good at knowing how the weather will change during the day. Here in Denver Colorado, a mistake with the weather can mean having a headwind the entire ride, hail, tornados, up to inches of rain an hour, did I mention wind? Be very good at weather.


    Your route should keep the sun at your back as much as possible. This means that traffic that comes up from behind you will not be blinded by the sun. It also means that oncomming traffic may not see you. Sections of roads have their safe times and dangerous times. Know when these occur and time your ride so you ride through the safe times. Be at the same place on the loop, at the same time of day. This makes you a part of everyone else's routine. Eventually the cars will think 'I should see that cyclist about here'. They will be looking for you, which improves your safety.


    My lap around Denver is hilly, but not severely hilly riding counterclockwise. Clockwise, is more difficult and usually means riding the last 30 miles (gradually uphill), into the afternoon winds. If I choose to ride the route clockwise, then I am also making a decision to skip Thursday morning's intervals.

    When planning your route, remember: The goal of the ride is to safely do the correct workout - with the best potential for recovery.

The Ride:

Always start the ride at the same time. The benefits are:

  1. the start time becomes a routine instead of a chore
  2. you become a part of each car's routine. After a few weeks, they will think "I should see that racer about here on the road...." This improves your saftey.

» Eat a good breakfast. I like 2 french toast made with 4 eggs ( 2 yokes ), a lot of honey and one cup of coffee

» Go to the bathroom after breakfast and before the ride

» Start riding within 60 minutes of breakfast

» Use a heart monitor and cadence monitor and ride at 70% and shift gears to maintain 105 rpm

» Do 8 good sprints during the ride. I do mean very good sprints. The reason is doing more miles usually causes people to be lazy with their speed work. A small decrease in speed work does not equate to a small decrease in your sprint, it equates to your sprint speed dying and falling off a cliff. The lightbulb should light up here regarding the need to build up mileage over time, instead of all at once.

» Stop about every 30 to 45 miles for food, water and the bathroom. Aside from the obvious, the bathroom is a good place to wash your bottles and what I also do during the summertime is quickly wash my face, arms and legs, and sometimes the backs of my knees ( sometimes they get sticky ). In the summer, re-apply sunscreen as needed.

» The half way point is Boulder, where I stop and take about 10 minutes for lunch

» As the lap around Denver progresses, I gradually switch from what I start with: 1 bottle of water and 1 bottle of Endura to 75% Coca-Cola or Pepsi and 25% water, depending upon availability. By gradually I mean I carry a zip-lock baggie of Endura and switch over as I feel I need to.

» For whatever reason, there may be reasons to bail out of doing a lap and get home sooner. It started snowing. The rain came off the foothills earlier in the day that it usually does. The wind changed ALOT. The traffic is nasty today. Your body is saying "Not today" All of your routes must have places that allow you to bail out of a ride.

Why Not?

    Most racers do either a recovery ride on Wednesday, or maybe up to 3 to 3.5 hours at 70%. The most common reasons for not riding more than 3 hours on Wednesday are things such as:

  • Spending time with the family is more important
  • Working late or a long commute home cuts into training time
  • Tired from Tuesday's group ride and intervals
  • Just not able to ride at least 3 hours at 70%
  • Your Sunday race is only a flat 45 minute, 4 turn criterium
  • Your body has not finished growing, or is injured
It takes time to build up to 130 - 170 mile rides

    I am a software consultant and quite often I could have Wednesday off to do a lap around Denver - 125 to 135 miles depending on if I returned through Highlands Ranch, or returned through Parker.

    170 miles if I went thru Lyons, up to Peak to Peak Hwy (NW of Boulder), and then south to the descent into Chatfield Park (SE Denver), etc.

    But when I first started racing in 1995, my longest ride was only 60 miles when I would ride from Aurora to Brighton.

    In 1996 I could ride to Golden and back via highway C-470, about 91 miles. 1997 was the first time I did a lap around Denver. But only about 10 times before I was injured in a crash the first day of Superweek and was off the bike the rest of the year.

    In 1998, I only rode long slow distance while my back was still healing. Throughout 1998, the injury was getting better and eventually I could do 1 or 2 laps a week.

    By the fall of 1998, the injury was completely healed and I was back to normal training - about 450 miles a week. As you can see, in 1995 my longest ride was only 60 miles and it took me a couple years to build up to being able to do a lap around Denver.

    » Keep in mind that while you can probably go out and just do the long 130 mile ride, you are not just training your legs. Other parts of your body need to adapt to the extra work of a long ride. Things you may not think are important like: your skin must adapt to the extra exposure to the sun. Your feet need to become stronger to withstand the extra pushing. Your butt needs to get tougher. Your hands need to adapt to the increased amount of impacts from the road. And so on.

    » The goal of training is to safely get the most amount of fitness with the least amount of wear and tear.

Creature Comforts

    Most racers can ride 60 miles without paying special attention to the little things that can become big issues on longer rides, such as:

  1. Is a seam in your shorts rubbing Mr. Happy?
  2. » I am very picky about my clothes. I take anything that does not fit the way I like to a good tailor and have the clothes cut and re-sewn to fit me.
  3. » If there is still some rubbing, then bring along a small container of Vaseline - inside a ziplock bag. Use the Vaseline during the ride to prevent abrasions.
  4. Is the chamois too abrasive or too thick or too thin?
  5. » If the chamois is not working for you then remove it and take the chamois you do need, and the shorts, to a good tailor and have them sew in the new chamois for you. (If you sew in the new chamois youself, you will probably sew it in unevenly)
  6. Wear at least 15 spf sunscreen
  7. » I live at 5600 feet of elevation. Every 1000 feet up in elevation form sea level = 5% more solar radiation.
  8. » Being in the sun for several hours also exposes you to a lot of radiation.
  9. » Some brands may irritate your skin, others will not. And what works for you may or may not irritate someone else's skin, and vice versa. So you need to try different brands until you find what works best for you.
  10. Dress for the weather
  11. » I tend to err on the side of being alittle overdressed, than take chances with being underdressed (You cannot put on clothes you don't have on the ride).
  12. » For cold rides, I add a pad of thinsulate under my tighs, and covering my knees to keep them warm.
  13. » Always wear glasses to protect your eyes and use lens that are appropriate for the amount of light.
  14. » The weather can change very quickly here in Colorado, so I usually carry a windbreaker.
  15. Do you know how to fix your bike and do you have the tools on the bike for those repairs?
  16. » "Prevention is the Best Medicine" means make sure your bike is in proper working order before you start riding.
  17. » Of course you cannot carry a whole tool box with you, and of course you may not be as unlucky as I once was when I broke a rear skewer during a ride ( Thank you Scott Dickson for the ride home ).

    But you can play the probabilities and carry:
    • 2 inner tubes (or Sew-ups) When I lived in Illinois, I trained on worn out race sew-ups. Here in Colorado, the roads are so full of glass, nails, thorns, and stuff. I need to use 25mm "Gatorskin" clinchers, with "Mr. Tuffies" for MTB, heavy rim, and "Slime" sealant (and a Powertap hub).
    • a "Vego-Matic" tool. The one I carry has 4, 5, 6mm allen wrenches and phillips and flat head screw drivers
    • One patch kit to patch clincher inner tubes.
    • Thank you to everyone who told me my T-bike could quack (I had a couple of inches of duct tape on the frame to be used to "boot" a sliced tire. Use it on the inside, works better if used along with a dollar bill.)
    • spoke wrench
    • a Phone
Do you and your bike fit well together?

A 45 minute criterium, a 3 hour ride. ho hum.... You could ride someone else's bike for a while and walk away with only alittle complaining about how it did not fit well.

100 miles on an ill fitting bike and you would be unpleasant to be around for a couple days.

100 miles or more each Wednesday and if you and your bike are not very well fit to each other.... One of you will injure the other.

» How you fit to you bike changes over time. The bike is not changing shape, but your body is. Do NOT become one of those anoying people who keep stopping to change their seat or bars height. Rather, in time frames of 3 to 4 weeks look for things that could be improved.

» If your feet hurt during long rides, try using thicker socks and orthotics. Saying I like Wigwam and Ridgeway socks ( I do ) is sort of like saying "I say potato and you say potatoe" as the expression goes. The choice of socks, orthotics and of course shoes and pedals is a very person specific thing.

» I have used orthotics for many years and I have found that, in time frames of about 9 months, I need to change orthotics. I have settled on 3 pair that I mix and match to make my feet comfortable.

» Your shoes must fit close to each of your feet without being either

» too tight - causing painful pressure points, or

» too loose - movement can cause chaffing and blisters

» It is possible that your feet are different sizes. You can shim the differences by:

» If you wear thick socks, then wear an older ( thinner ) sock on the larger foot, and a newer ( thicker ) sock on the smaller foot.

» Mix and match orthotics

» Slightly stagger your cleat positions

» You also need to prevent overuse unjuries to your hands

» Bending your wrist back for a long time can damage nerves in your wrists. This is called "Carpal Tunnel Syndrome". Hold your hand up so your palm is facing you. Next draw imaginary lines from the tips of your thumb and the far opposite finger, to the middle of your wrist ( where your hand and forearm meet ). This point is where the nerves go through your wrist. Make sure you never hold the bars so they put pressure on this point, or that pressure could also cause Carpal Tunnel.

» Change your hand position often

» When going over bumps, hold the bars alittle loosely so your hands do not take the impact ( but not so loosely you lose control of the bike ). Let the bike "float" over bumps using your arms and legs as shock absorbers.

» Use good gloves that fit well