Increasing speed: Nicole Cooke’s seven-hour cycling plan

The next eight-week plan takes you from riding around four hours a week to seven hours. It also introduces slightly higher intensities as part of more structured sessions, rather than just going out and riding steadily. It includes one day of complete rest and a couple of rest days that may be used as days off or a chance to do other exercise, such as yoga or swimming.

Sessions with higher intensities include warming-up and warming-down periods, and easy (blue) periods in between intervals. This plan gradually increases both the quantity and quality of your training, so make sure you don’t overdo things. If you find you’re unable to complete the sessions, or are constantly tired, then scale back the training appropriately. Incorporating complementary exercises on rest days can help keep you fresh mentally and physically, but make sure you listen to what your body is telling you. Once again, in week 8 take a rest and then take a test. You’re sure to find some improvements after all your hard work.

Key to your regime rides

Blue rides are done at an easy pace. They are for social, recovery, warm-up or warm-down rides. Heart rate: less than 60% of your maximum.

You will start to notice the effort on green rides. These rides improve your endurance base. Heart rate: 60-75% of your maximum.
Yellow rides are shorter rides at effort. Conversation is severely restricted. Heart rate: 75-89% of maximum.
Amber rides are short, high-intensity rides measured in minutes. Heart rate: 89-94% of maximum.

Red rides are very hard, short, intense interval bursts. Heart rate: at least 90% of your maximum.

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