Pacing: how to manage that weekend where you can put in extra time

Updated: May 18

Most of us weekend warriors are able to train in the realm of 8-12 hours each week. That is the reality when we are also putting in quality time with our family and friends, and doing a good job at work. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t looking for every opportunity to squeeze out more time on our bikes! And sometimes those opportunities do present themselves, like at a training camp or over a long weekend. So let’s make the most of them.

What is most important to keep in mind when presented with the opportunity to plough in more miles is the inverse relationship between time and wattage. The more time you plan to spend on the bike, the lower your wattage will have to be - or perhaps better to think of it as the better you will have to manage your effort.

Check out how power changes with time, note the declining power (red line) as time progresses (X-axis):

What does this concept mean for those times when you are able to add some serious mileage? It means that you need to adjust your effort accordingly, backing off the wattage somewhat.

What typically happens for many riders on a 4-day weekend

What most riders do when they have a four-day weekend of riding is to go out and ride hard the first day - they want to maximize their training time and think that going harder is better, no pain no gain! Then day two is OKish, but they are already feeling the fatigue from day one. Come day three and the riding has become a real slog, the power and pace is dropping, and the perceived exertion is way up. Day four becomes a may or may not ride sort of day and probably ends up being easier and shorter than originally planned. Then the rest of the following week is a complete wash because they are so tired, and oh that right knee is twinging from the sudden increase in mileage without a corresponding change in power.

What your 4-day weekend should look like

Let’s take it back to our core training principles - intensity discipline and repeatability. The intensity discipline part tells us that we need to adjust, and stick to, our power and heart rate to meet a training goal on a given day. And that we want to vary our workouts and goals. While repeatability is just that, repeatability. You shouldn’t get worse every day across the weekend.