Lifestyle Smart Athlete

How to include group riding in your training (without giving up your goal)

How to include group riding in your training (without giving up your goal)

I wrote a post for MapMyRun recently on ways to include group riding in an effective training routine.

You can read the mapmyrun article on optimizing group rides here

The trouble with group rides is that they are often not specific to the goals we set, they are often moderately hard but missing the specific work that many athletes need to do to improve. I work with masters aged athletes, most of whom have goals in the off-road disciplines (mountain bike, Cross, gravel). Most of these age-group cyclists are understandably drawn to the social and/or competitive nature of group rides; it is how they are spending their limited personal time. The trouble for these specific off-road athletes is that they often misspend their energy on-road group rides, then wonder why they are too fatigued to do an appropriate volume of mountain bike riding.

So how can you avoid missing the group ride and reach your goals (and get the kids to baseball)? The tactics I suggest in the MapMyRun article are:

  1. Doing your workout before you go to a ride. This works well for easier rides and lets you focus on the social goal of the ride.
  2. Be ok with irregular weeks. In the 100% Made-For-You Plans I build this is one of the biggest changes I make. We rearrange the off-days to maximize energy and performance on the days that matter. If you have a Sunday Group Ride and can go long Mondays then why not take Saturday off to spend time with the family and make your group ride effort really good?
  3. Plan ahead – If you schedule your workouts they will tend to go better. This is another big advantage of having a custom training plan, or a coach, is that your training is set to fit into your life. If you can plan your week (or months) out ahead of time then you can plan when you will most likely be able to do a group ride, or when you should skip it to recover and get the intervals or long rides you need in before your big crazy goal (you have one right!?!?!?)
  4. Have a goal for the ride – The biggest thing you can do to make group rides fit in your plan is to have a goal for the day. Often clubs will have different rides based on ability. These different ride groups are open to anyone, so it is acceptable to go out and cruise an easier day with the ‘B’ group one week if you have a big race on the weekend or a hard interval set planned. On a week you need motivation or have a free weekend then you can use the ‘A’ group ride to push the intensity and/or Volume up beyond what you might do on your own. Have a plan before you go so you get what you need out of the group experience.


This isn’t in the article but another concept that I have mentioned to a few clients is combining their rides, of any type, with family time. Do your ride, perhaps an early morning group ride, then transition into some baseball, or sledding, or a big family hike. Some of my fastest clients use this method almost daily to boost their ‘endurance’ time. This is a big reason I have started to really promote the ‘Consummate Athlete Lifestyle‘ to the Adult clients I work with.

Did I miss a tactic you use to do your training and go to the weekly group ride? Let me know!

Peter ( @peterglassford)

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  1. Hi Peter,
    Good subject, I often fine my riding / training has “feast or famine” stages where due to weather and trail conditions so group rides start falling on workout days or days I should really be doing a different ride. In our area the mountain bike terrain is pretty technical so I find when I do group rides the pace always drops the more riders there are. To get the most out of the ride I try to use these rides to work on my technical aspects of riding: track stand when there is a backup rather than step out, use an alternate line for a feature, work on form and positioning.

    1. Thanks Kevin!

      That is a great method to keep the practice element in sessions and to have a goal when the intensity / volume is not sufficient. I will add it to an update of this post~

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