Preparing for a sportive with Rapha

Training for a sportive, whether it’s 52km at the Etape UK or the formidable 300km Dragon Devil, can be a daunting task if you’ve never taken on that distance before. Rapha spoke to ex-professional riders Tim Kennaugh and Tom Southam – both now performance directors at EF Education First – for their top ten tips for preparing for a sportive.

  1. Make a plan. Pen and paper is the best tool here. First, write down all the things that you will need to do to achieve your goal, for example: ride for 4 hours, learn to eat on the bike, improve climbing. Plan your training to focus on those things. Second, write down all the things that could stop you achieving your goal: holidays, alcohol, time constraints, injuries; and what you will do to counter those things.
  2. Don’t train like the pros. Trying to train like a pro is pointless, train like you. Whereas the pros have two priorities – training and recovery – you’ve probably got family, work commitments, friends to see. Be realistic with your time, commit to fewer sessions and really focus on improving the things that will help achieve your goal.
  3. Mix it up. Sportive riding is about long hours in the saddle, so make sure you prioritise one long ride a week. Go easy on long rides but work hard on the shorter ones and add in some interval sessions. Just don’t just ride everything at the same pace because you get no training adaptation, mix it up a bit.
  4. Train your gut. Be sure to fuel before hard intensity sessions to make sure you can put out enough power to get the training benefit from them. On longer rides practice eating what will be available on sportive day. Experiment with different gels and bars or take homemade food with you and see what works for you.
  5. Be your own director. My job as DS encompasses many things, from race route recce, to strategy, chief cheerleader and parking planner to staff wellbeing coordinator. It’s all designed to enable the riders to focus on riding. You will have to be a DS and a rider combined. Think about early starts, where will you get breakfast if you’re at a hotel? Where are the feed stops? Careful consideration of these things will make it easier on the day.
  6. Enjoy it! Your future doesn’t depend on a good performance at this ride, so whatever happens remember to smile, have fun and enjoy the experience.