Anyone can cycle Lands End to John O’Groats, you do not need to be Chris Froome to complete the ride. Even with zero to little training the ride can be done, however having no training can be the catalyst for a number of issues that will spoil the enjoyment of the once in a lifetime ride.
Depending on the route you decide to take, LEJOG is going to take you close to or in excess of 1000 miles, that is in my case 21 days of back to back cycling. The terrain is mixed and ranges from very steep sharp hills to long drawn out climbs. These combined with a daily mileage of 60 to 100 miles it is imperative that some training and preparation is done before the off.
I found that on my 21 day ride, I got fitter as I progressed slowly North from Cornwall, Not every day was a breeze but the LEJOG training plan I did before I set off certainly did pay off.
My Training Plan for Cycling LEJOG
I split my training into three parts, my day to day commute, an extended commute and a few longer rides at the weekend.
My daily commute is 4 miles which meant that I was able to cycle at least 8 miles per day when working in the office. 8 miles is not a lot when you consider the total distance of LEJOG. However the daily ride to work was an opportunity to get on the bike and pedal each day. I would always cycle as fast as I could in order to push myself over a short distance, often arriving at work in a sweaty mess.
Extended Daily Commute
On one or two days per week, I would extend my ride in to and from work. Increasing each ride from 4 miles to 10 or 15 miles meant that I could increase my daily mileage to at least 20 to 30 miles. These slightly longer rides and higher daily mileage meant that got used to being on the bike for longer each week.
Long Weekend Rides
Most weekends in the three months leading up to my End to End ride I would try and cycle a longer ride. Due to time and family constraints I was not able to cycle for a full day each weekend. My longer rides would consist of 40 to 6o miles with only 1 ride that was 102 miles. Longer rides allowed me to test my legs over long days in the saddle and help me get my fitness up.
Indoor Cycling or Spin Classes
Not every day is an ideal day to head off on a training ride. The weather may be cold and wet or you could be pushed for time. This is where indoor cycling comes in to play. I did a number of training rides on my WattBike when preparing for LEJOG. I was lucky enough to have access to the bike and a subscription to Zwift which added a new dimension to my training plan. If you do not have access to these, you could try a local Gym or join a local Spin Class, both of which will give you access to a Wattbike or similar.
Preparing for Hills, Hills and More Hills.
I do not like cycling uphill! I find hills hard work and this was one of the main things that made me nervous when planning my ride. I did not do any specific hill training before I set off on my ride and looking back it was not needed. I found while Cornwall and Devon are hilly, the hills are not long and the first couple of days are excellent training for what lies ahead.
Reducing the Risk of Injury during LEJOG
You have been planning your ride for months and after a couple of days in the saddle, as you reach Devon, you sustain an injury, Imagine the disappointment you would feel if this was to happen. All of the preparation and planning that has gone into your Lands End to John O’Groats ride is now irrelevant if you are unable to carry on. To lower your chance of injury it is important that you prepare for long rides and start training as soon as you can. This will raise your fitness level and help with allowing you to cycle consecutive days with ease.
Rest and Recovery
While the prospect of enjoying a rest day when cycling LEJOG may not be possible, it is important when training to make sure you rest. It is easy to get carried away and push yourself to the limit when training for a long distance ride however the need to rest your body is equally as important.
Training for Long Distance Cycling Can Be Fun
The training for a long distance rise such as LEJOG, the Coast to Coast or the North Coast 500 can be as much fun as the ride itself. It gave me the freedom to explore new routes in my local area and increasing my mileage and fitness.