A Coach’s Guide to Etape Caledonia

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a cycling newbie, there’s always something new to learn. Head Coach at Runna and IRONMAN Coach, Ben Parker has gathered his top tips and trick to help you improve your skills, enjoy your rides and get event day ready for Etape Caledonia. Whether you’re looking to increase your speed, ride longer distances, or just get started with the basics, you’ll find something valuable in this post. So buckle up, grab your helmet, and get ready to hit the road!

Coach Ben’s Top Tips

  1. Gradually build up your mileage and intensity over time, rather than trying to do too much too soon. This is the most common mistake when it comes to training for any fitness goal, Rome wasn’t built in a day – set out some realistic training goals that will be sustainable and enjoyable for the rest of your life and then gradually increase the length, intensity and frequency of your workouts over time. This will help you avoid injury and burnout.
  2. Make sure you incorporate hill training into your training. The Scottish Highlands are surprisingly not flat, so it’s important to be prepared for some challenging hills. Make sure to choose some hillier routes for your long rides and also consider doing specific hill rep sessions (example below).
  3. Consider your kit. As a regular Ironman athlete, I have the added challenge of essentially having to have 3 outfits ready for one event! For you make sure you’ve considered clothes with appropriate pockets for any bars or gels you want to be having and a puncture kit. Make sure you know how to use it and how can you store it most comfortably either on you or your bike. You can get a lot more from your bike without having to upgrade it – make sure it’s clean especially in the drive chain for the big day but also make sure it’s set up correctly for you and your body! A little tweak to the saddle height can have huge ramifications on your performance and risk of injury – if you’re not sure go to your local bike shop for some help!
  4. Cross train! This will not only make you a better all-round athlete but will reduce your risk of injury and hopefully make things more varied and fun! Consider everything from strength training either with your bodyweight or weighted at the gym, yoga and pilates, rowing to even a cyclist’s worst nightmare – Running! Ps. We can help you with the running and strength side of things inside the Runna app.
  5. Ever heard of ‘bonking,’ it might surprise you but we don’t want to do this! Bonking is where we run out of fuel and therefore lose energy on a long ride! To prevent this we want to nail our nutrition and hydration. This is something we can practice on training rides before, during, and after rides. My advice would be for all sessions over an hour that we should be taking fuel during! Want to learn more about how to fuel mid-ride? Read more here.
  6. It goes without saying to practice your bike handling skills, such as cornering and descending, to help you navigate the course with confidence. I know it might be easier to stick to the turbo or gym or do nothing at all, but get outside on your bike and get ready – you’ll love it – that’s why you signed up to Etape Caledonia in the first place!
  7. Finally, don’t forget to have fun! Training for a sportive can be challenging, but it can also be a rewarding and enjoyable experience.

Sample Training Workouts

Take on all the tips above and you’ll be in a great position for the big day on Sunday 14 May. As well as trying to spend more time on your bike and getting fitter I’d consider a few of the following specific sessions to get more powerful and improve your bike fitness.

  • Three to five minutes of hard effort with five minutes of easy riding between each
  • Two to three 20 minute well paced but maximal efforts with plenty of easy riding between
  • Two rounds of 10x 30 second sprint, 30 seconds easy
  • Hill Reps, find your favourite hill and ride maximally up it, U-turn at the top, recovery roll down and repeat. Adjust reps based on the length of the hill and fitness level!

For each of the above make sure to warm up and cool down on either side of the workout and if you’re being well behaved – have a good stretch after too!

Huge thank you to Ben for sharing his expertise! To redeem a two week free trial of Runna click this link and enter the code LIMELIGHT at checkout.