When you watch a spectacle like the Giro d’Italia, a 21 day long tour of Italy, covering 3,482 kilometres and climbing up mountains, you realise that so much time and training must go into training. To get your body used to that punishment takes a seriously long time in the saddle.
As you may know, or realise, I'm a cyclist, and from the moment you first start getting serious about cycling, you know that you’re going to be riding a lot. To give you an idea, a small ride would be a minimum of 1 hour long. A normal ride becomes 2 to 3 hours and a long ride can be 5-6 hours. You also need to be doing these more than once a week, too. So realistically you're looking at something closer to 12-15 hours per week on the bike, if you really want to see some improvements.
Of course there are ways to help with this. One way to add up some extra hours without sacrificing time elsewhere, is to make sure your commute to and from work is on the bike. But getting out for a few long rides a week can be a challenge. You may have a wife/a husband/a girlfriend/a boyfriend/children/a family (think I included everyone there), have extra work, other commitments or friends to catch up with; all of which may get in the way of cycling until your heart's content. For me, at this current moment in time, I don’t have that many commitments. And although over the last week or so I have been quite lazy, I was able to get in 200-300km per week. I blame the recent weather mostly, and catching up with friends.
So, if you want to get really fit, the bike is not always going to be the best option. You’re not always going to have time to go out for a big ride; remember a bit ride is around 5-6 hours. So how can you improve your fitness in a shorter amount of time? For me it's running. Running offers me a good way to really push my body hard for as little as 30 minutes. My lungs feel much more thoroughly worked out from a run, my calves and other muscles not used much when riding also get a good workout and best of all, I can do it on my lunch break. That time is basically free time. Time I'd otherwise be spending reading—which I can do on other days. I get an hour for lunch and so I can run a good 7.5km as well as eating and showering. I have in the past pushed my lunch and done 10km, so that's also an option. Like I mentioned in a previous post, when I run, I really push myself, so I can really feel the burn and I really feel like it is working!
The great thing about running—and any sport, I guess—is that the better I get, or the stronger and fitter I get, the more I am enjoying it. But to take it to the next level, I need a challenge. I’ve already ran a half-marathon, completing the Melbourne Half Marathon last year, so I’m thinking of taking the leap to the full marathon this year. It’s on October 18th which gives me 4 months to train (wow, that’s not as long as I thought when I started this post), and I want to keep my cycling training up. So I need a plan. I’ll share it once I’ve made it.