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Training for LEJOG: Plan and Nutrition Guide

Posted by Team Veloforte on
2 people training for LEJOG

Prepare for Britain’s iconic cycle tour with our free LEJOG training plan and nutrition guide.

You’ve ticked off London to Brighton, conquered the Coast to Coast, and now you’re ready for cycling’s big one – LEJOG.

One of the most iconic cycling tours in the UK, the 900+ mile ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats covers the length of Great Britain. It’s a challenge that takes you from the English coast to the Scottish highlands with stunning views, epic inclines and plenty of Chamois cream along the way.

This isn’t a route you wake up and decide to do next weekend, it requires extensive training and planning. And if you’re planning on joining the many cyclists tackling the big daddy of British cycling routes, you’re bound to have a few questions.

This is why we’ve put together our comprehensive LEJOG Training Guide, including a free 10-week LEJOG training plan. Our guide is suitable for cyclists of all levels, contains suggested training sessions plus a simple fuelling and nutrition strategy to help you complete your next epic adventure.

But before you dive into the work that lies ahead, here’s everything you need to know about the LEJOG challenge ahead. 

What is LEJOG?

LEJOG is a cycle tour traversing the full length of Britain. It starts in the island’s most south-westerly point, Land’s End in Cornwall, and finishes in John O’Groats in the remote North East of Scotland. You can also flip the tour on its head and ride from John O’Groats to Land’s End – then it’s called the JOGLE.

map/route graphic to visually explain

Whichever route you take, though, this is no mean feat. You’ll be covering at least 900 miles with multiple days in the saddle. And some people walk or run it, too.

How long is LEJOG?

There’s no official route for LEJOG. Riders either plan their own route or join an official tour.

The shortest possible end-to-end route is around 874 miles (1,407km) but avoiding busy, major roads will bring you closer to 950 miles (1,528km). Add in a few extra kms for reaching your nightly accommodation, swerving challenging inclines, visiting beauty spots and toilet blocks, and you’ll soon be hitting the 1,000 mile (1,609km) mark.

How fit do you need to be for LEJOG?

There’s no doubt this is a challenging ride but choosing a longer time period to cover the distance means it can be adapted to suit different abilities.

The record is 41 hours, 4 mins and 22 seconds and is held by Andy Wilkinson who completed it on a recumbent tricycle. However, there’s no time limit, and most riders complete the challenge in 10-14 days. You could choose to ride over two weeks, a month or longer. 

Andy Wilkinson

Provided you’re realistic about your ability, cycle shorter distances each day, and build in rest days to give your body a chance to recover and reduce your chance of injury, even casual cyclists should be able to complete the challenge.

How long does it take to train for LEJOG?

How long it takes to train for LEJOG depends on a number of different variables, including your cycling ability, current fitness level and personal goals – do you want to complete the challenge in a certain time frame, for example, or are you planning a leisurely trip where you’ll enjoy the scenery?

As a general rule of thumb, you should start training around 10-16 weeks before your challenge. Training will improve your fitness levels and endurance, reduce your chance of injury, give you time to test out your clothing, equipment and nutrition strategy. It’ll also make the tour much more enjoyable.

How many miles should you be training per week?

This depends on your goals and current cycling training. If you’re a beginner cyclist completing a charity ride, going from nothing to cycling in the region of 70 miles a week is a massive jump that puts you at risk of injury and mental and physical burnout. 

A more regular cyclist may be covering enough mileage to complete the challenge already and instead want to work on their strength and climbing to make the hills more comfortable or boost their speed to complete the tour in a goal time.

Either way, you’ll need to work out where you are and build up the miles week by week, giving your body a chance to adapt to the new stresses being put on it.

cycling training

How to train for LEJOG 

If you’re training for LEJOG, it’s a good idea to have a training plan like the one below.

Having a plan that builds gradually week by week makes your end goal seem less daunting, and will build up your strength, fitness and confidence in your own abilities.

A good plan can be adapted to fit around your home life and other commitments – you might find it easier to do long rides at the weekend for example – but should include the following elements:

Endurance rides

Regular longer, easy-paced rides help build endurance and aerobic fitness so you’re able to cover the daily distances on your tour more comfortably. Long rides also offer a chance to practice your fuelling strategy and to ensure your bike set up and clothing are comfortable during long days in the saddle.

cyclists showing endurance while doing a long cycling on a road

Higher intensity rides

Shorter, harder rides with speed intervals or periods of higher intensity help build fitness and pace on the bike. They’re often easier to fit in around work and family than longer rides, so can be good if you have limited time to train on certain days.

cycling fast

Hill training

You’re going to come across some tasty inclines on LEJOG, so you might want to consider adding hill training to your plan to help your body and mind prepare. Hill repeats and longer hilly rides are great ways to gain some of the strength-boosting benefits hills provide.

Cycling up hill

Strength and mobility

Training off the bike can reap great rewards in the saddle. Strength work can help you build power on the bike, improve your posture, target imbalances and reduce your chance of injury, while adding some stretching and mobility to your routine can ease tensions and tightness and help work on those imbalances, too.

workout/gym

Rest and recovery

Rest and recovery are a key part of any training plan. It’s during periods of rest that your muscles have time to repair, adapt to the training stresses being put on them and grow stronger. If you don’t give yourself time to rest and repair post-ride, then you could slow your progress and put yourself at risk of illness, injury and over-training. 

Aim to include at least one full rest day a week, try not to do hard sessions back-to-back, eat for recovery (see the nutrition section below) and get plenty of sleep.

Read more cycling rest and recovery tips from ultra-endurance pro cyclist James Mark Hayden.

recovery after cycling

Nutrition and hydration for LEJOG training

To help you go the distance during training and to prepare for those back-to-back days in the saddle during the event, you’ll need to fuel your body for cycling performance and recovery.

Aim to eat a well-rounded diet that includes a good balance of the three macronutrients – carbohydrates for energy, protein for muscle recovery and fats for energy and cell growth – as well as plenty of vitamin- and mineral-rich fruit and veg.

You can download our comprehensive cycling nutrition guide below:

 

 

The following tips should help you nail fuelling for performance, too.

Before training sessions

Carbohydrates are your body’s preferred energy source. They’re stored as glycogen in your liver and muscles and used to fuel activity, including all those cycling sessions.

Your body digests carbohydrates best when they’re spread out over the day, so aim to eat some form of complex carb with each meal. To ensure you have plenty in the tank, take on some carbs before a tough training session or long ride, too. 

Try a bowl of porridge for breakfast or sweet potatoes with lunch. If you’re cycling after work, between meals, or you’re short on time, grab a Veloforte natural energy bar instead. Rich in dual-source carbohydrates, they’re designed to give you sustained, balanced energy as you work out.

Veloforte porridge

On the bike

During LEJOG you’re going to have some long days in the saddle so you’ll need to practice fuelling in training.

Your body can only store enough glycogen to fuel around 90 minutes of exercise so you’re going to need to top up your energy stores on long training rides, making them the ideal opportunity to fine-tune your nutrition strategy.

Depending on the intensity of your training ride, you should aim to take on between 45g-60g of carbohydrate per hour (the more intense the session the more carbs you’ll need) and up to 90g for really intense sessions.

You can consume your carbs in any way you wish. Some cyclists prefer to eat ‘real’ food such as sandwiches, bananas and dry fruit. Others prefer sports nutrition such as energy bars, gels and drinks. Many like a mix. It’s a case of trial and error and discovering what works best for you. 

Try these Veloforte on-the-bike fuelling options:

  • Veloforte energy bars – 40g of dual-source carbohydrate in a tasty, portable package
  • Veloforte natural energy gels – forget synthetic tasting gels, these shots of fast-release energy and electrolytes are made from 100% natural ingredients
  • Veloforte energy chews – these delicious natural soft chews offer fast-release energy – with an optional caffeine kick, too

collage of the above products

Recovery

Tempting as it is to head straight for the shower when you get in from a long ride, it’s a good idea to eat something within 30 minutes of a tough or long session. Aim for the classic 3:1 ratio of carbs to protein to help top up your depleted glycogen stores and repair the micro-tears in your muscles caused by exercise.

If it’s a while till your next meal, or you can’t face eating much, a Veloforte recovery protein shake or Mocha or Forza protein bar contains the optimal ratio of carbs to protein in a delicious, natural package.

collage of all the above products

Hydration

The NHS recommends drinking around 1.2 litres of water a day but if you’re exercising, it’s hot, or you’re a big sweater, you’re probably going to need more. To ensure you’re well-hydrated, try to drink fluids at regular intervals throughout the day, both on and off the bike. 

On rides over 60 minutes, take on electrolytes; they are vital salts and minerals such as sodium, potassium and magnesium that are lost when you sweat. If your electrolytes are out of balance it can make working out feel much tougher and you’re more prone to cramps, nausea and fatigue, too.

Mix Veloforte’s real-fruit electrolyte powder with cold water and take two to three gulps every 10-15 minutes during your long rides.

electrolyte powder

LEJOG training plan

To help you with your training, we asked Veloforte ambassador Paul Parker, Strength & Conditioning Specialist, Sport Scientist and Performance Nutritionist at PRPerformance, to put together a simple training plan for LEJOG. 

“Because everyone will undoubtedly be starting from a different position and will have different challenges to overcome even logistically, this LEJOG training plan aims to give you a framework to work within rather than an exact, to-the-meter recipe.

It factors in different session types and a gradual undulating increase in volume, with recovery weeks and tapers. The goal is to get you to a position where ~80-miles a day is achievable come the big ride itself.

The interval sessions here should be placed to enable you to undulate volume and intensity sensibly. Short interval work should be <2minute working intervals interspersed with very light active recovery (sets and reps prescribed to align to weekly mileage target), whereas the extensive intervals should include tempo/sub-threshold stints of 10-25 mins with short breaks."

The weekly mileage here isn’t a hard and fast rule, explains Paul.

“It will obviously depend on your individual ability, your Functional Threshold Power (FTP) in the first instance, and your training feasibility. 

Amidst these bike sessions, strength sessions should be a cornerstone too in order to support your ability to remain injury-free. Always seek the help of a suitable coach/professional when it comes to working out your individual needs.”

weight training

LEJOG training sessions

This 10-week example LEJOG cycle training plan is based on four rides per week. We tell you how to calculate your FTP in our guide to indoor cycling turbo training here

10 Weeks Out 

  • 1hr @ 80% FTP
  • 1x Short Intervals @ ~120% FTP
  • 1.5hrs @ 70% FTP
  • 1x Extended Intervals @ ~95% FTP
  • Weekly Mileage: 80-90

9 Weeks Out

  • 1hr @ 80% FTP
  • 1x Short Intervals @ ~120% FTP
  • 1.5hrs @ 75% FTP
  • 1x Extended Intervals @ ~95% FTP
  • Weekly Mileage: 90-110

8 Weeks Out

  • 1hr @ 85% FTP
  • 1x Short Intervals @ ~120% FTP
  • 1.5hrs @ 75% FTP
  • 1x Extended Intervals @ ~95% FTP
  • Weekly Mileage: 100-120

7 Weeks Out

  • 1.25hr @ 80% FTP
  • 1x Short Intervals @ ~120% FTP
  • 2hrs @ 70% FTP
  • 1x Extended Intervals @ ~95% FTP
  • Weekly Mileage: 85-105

6 Weeks Out

  • 1.25hr @ 80% FTP
  • 1x Short Intervals @ ~125% FTP
  • 2.25hrs @ 70% FTP
  • 1x Extended Intervals @ ~99% FTP
  • Weekly Mileage: 100-120

5 Weeks Out

  • 1.25hr @ 85% FTP
  • 1x Short Intervals @ ~125% FTP
  • 2.5hrs @ 70% FTP
  • 1x Extended Intervals @ ~99% FTP
  • Weekly Mileage: 125-150

4 Weeks Out

  • 1.5hr @ 85% FTP
  • 1x Short Sprint/Climb Intervals 
  • 2.5hrs @ 75% FTP
  • 1x Extended Intervals @ ~105% FTP
  • Weekly Mileage: 140-160

3 Weeks Out

  • 1.5hr @ 85% FTP
  • 1x Short Sprint/Climb Intervals 
  • 3hrs @ 70% FTP
  • 1x Extended Intervals @ ~105% FTP
  • Weekly Mileage: 180+

2 Weeks Out

  • 1hr @ 80% FTP
  • 1x Short Intervals @ ~125% FTP
  • 1.5hrs @ 70% FTP
  • 1x Extended Intervals @ ~105% FTP
  • Weekly Mileage: 140-160

1 Week Out

  • 2 x 2hrs @ 70-80% FTP
  • 1x Short Intervals @ ~120% FTP
  • Weekly Mileage: <100

Bonus training tips for LEJOG

  • If you’ll be carrying your luggage with you on LEJOG, make sure you take it with you on some long training rides so you get used to carrying the extra weight.
  • Do the majority of your training on the bike you’ll ride, so you can get used to its quirks and know you’re happy with the set-up.
  • Brush up on your basic bike repair skills, you’ll want to be able to adjust your gears and fix a puncture if the need arises.

Veloforte Cycling

Get started with your LEJOG fuelling

Now you’ve got your training and nutrition plan in place, it’s time to start experimenting. 

Stock up on a range of different energy and recovery nutrition products to try on those training rides and find the best choice to fuel your performance.

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