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The key to RAAM success

What is the key to a successful RAAM? Well the very first element is having a fantastic crew who can support in all weather and situations to keep the riders in best shape and going from the start to the finish line. Riders - all we have to do is to ride, eat and sleep – yeah! Well it’s a bit more than that - like the crew who have to plan well in advance for schedules/equipment etc, so we have do that odd bit of training. We need to ensure that we start the race in our best shape to do the equivalent of 6 hrs riding each 24 hrs probably for nine days…. Our training has started.

I will start with an example from my own training and the others will come in subsequent blogs with their versions suited to their needs. Basically, we all need to be able to ride as powerfully as we can for each of our hours on the bike. So we need to work at the level of effort that we can sustain on a regular basis for each and everyone of our rides. This probably computes – if well trained and we keep up the right levels of hydration, nutrition, rest and sleep – to working at about 80% of our maximum power that we can keep up for an hour. The term FTP - Functional Threshold Power is used a lot to define this quantity ( in watts). Each of us will have a different FTPs which we can increase with training – even at our ages, but our key responsibilities will be to be able to sustain around 80% of this for each of our rides through ensuring we get the right nutrition and hydration within each of our riding sessions and rest and sleep between them. . We intend to work in pairs with one pair resting for 6 hours ( in reality being transported to the next start point) and one pair riding about 1 hr “on” and 1 hr (off bike) for six hours.

So in my case, after a last quarter of 2018 coming back from injury (fractured olecranon (elbow) and fractured clavicle (collarbone) during the World 70.3 Ironman Championships in September, in South Africa) I have been fortunate to be able to get back on the turbo quite quickly but only had about 4 to 5 shorter ( 2-3 hrs) outdoor rides. Now we are into January, I am doing more RAAM based work but will need to have some downtime soon to repair the clavicle…..but that can come in a later blog. Meantime to give you an example of a training week…. Oh - and if you want see what I mean by training at the Athlete’s lab go to the following website ] its great fun and great motivation for me especially as I am a numbers geek and like to measure what I am doing.

So here is my sample training week for w/c 20th January:


AM - 30 mins easy swim

PM - tried FTP calibration on home bike trainer - using Garmin Vector 2 pedals and Garmin 520 – didn’t follow instructions as hadn’t read beforehand! However a very hard session all the same.

90% FTP for 1 hr.


AM - Athlete’s Lab “Ironmania” session – long intervals of between 5 -15 mins at 80-90% FTP with about 4 mins easy in between 1.5hrs/1hr rest (travelling home). Then home trainer 80% FTP av 30 mins.

PM - walk to recover


AM - 30 mins easy swim

PM - warm up and down and Athletes Lab “Ironmania” session 45 mins High cadence ( 93 rpm av and 80% FTP av.


AM - Athletes Lab “Omnium” - has all components threshold, power blocks, sprints and longer intervals 1.5hr with some high FTP numbers!

PM - six hours later ( other jobs to do) building session to high FTP but 80% FTP av. 30 mins


Rest day but about 10 miles of walking


AM - Athletes Lab Surrey Hills ride - gradients simulated by resistance – tough ride! 82% FTP av for 2 hours.


AM - very easy 5 mile jog around Hyde Park

PM - gentle ride on turbo to re-calibrate and also light weights, resistance bands and some pilates exercises.

In summary, my training week during these cold winter days puts all the quality work into the bike sessions – which total about 8:30 – 9 hrs but quality work targeting 80% FTP av. With a further about 1-2 hrs of easy swim and run sessions.

Obviously we need to build to be able to do 6 x 1hr sessions ( or equivalent) each 24 hrs for 9 days……at similar effort - but we need to get there steadily!

I will be in touch again soon.

Hilary (Walker)


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