Century Ride Series: How to Train for Your First 100-Miler


Have a Century Ride cycling event on your bucket list? The good news is it’s extremely doable—but it’s going to take some work. Here’s how to get started and be on your way to 100 miles in two months. I’ll be by your side the entire time, ready to remind you to tell yourself: “Shut up, Legs!”

Get the Right Gear

First, make sure your bike is in good shape—enough to handle several miles in the coming days. And don’t forget the details. For example, make sure your lights are secure, and that your tires and brakes are in good shape. You’ll also want to invest in a comfortable pair of bike shorts. The better quality your chamois, the less soreness you’re likely to experience over several miles, and you can’t put a price on that.

Starting Out: Month 1

Start with a 30-min ride, just to get a feel for your bike and build to an hour-long ride by the end of the first week. Aim to complete five rides each week (with a day off either after two or three days). Unlike high-impact activities like running, cycling is relatively easy on joints, so your body can handle a greater volume.

Focus on increasing your miles over the course of the month, to teach your body to work efficiently, and to ride for a few hours consistently. Aim to finish your first month of training with a 50-mile ride. (For extra guidance, watch for my next post which includes a daily training plan.)

Intense Training: Month 2

Now is when you’re going to want to tell your legs to ‘shut up’ by ramping up your training sessions and boosting your fitness level. Start by adding intervals to your workouts on flat sections of road, about two to three times per week. Warm up for 45 minutes, and then push harder for two sets of 5-minute bursts, with 15-minutes at your normal pace in between. If you feel exhausted, remember that’s the plan.

If your Fitbit tracker measures your heart rate, like the Fitbit Charge HR or Fitbit Surge, aim to ride at about 70% of your maximum heart rate during the bursts. This should be a medium-hard level for you.  

As your fitness improves, find a route with a good hill and add climbs to your rides at least twice per week, and complete shorter, harder intervals, like 20-second sprints. You can also sprint to Stop signs, or race a friend.   

Test Ride

You’ll ideally want to ride 100 miles on the last weekend before the Century Ride, so you can know exactly what to expect, but plan to at least go for 80 miles at a moderate pace (about 12-15 miles/hour)—or at a speed you’re able to maintain for hours. Be sure to take some breaks, refill your bottles, and possibly even stop for a coffee around Mile 50. You’re going to be in the saddle for at least six hours, so do what you need to stay comfortable.

Pre-Ride and Race

Take it easy during the two days before the Century, to give your body the chance to fully recover and charge up with energy. Remember to take it easy on race day, too—especially the first few miles. They are always easy, but it counts more to finish strong.

Want more guidance? Check out Parts 2 and 3 of my Century Ride series.

Century Ride Series Part 2: Daily Training Plan

Century Ride Series Part 3: Fuel Plan

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  • Jens Voight is a champion in my book. I have really enjoyed watching him over the years in the Tour De France.

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