Century in 5 months. What now?

Hi all. I’ve been training with Systm since about September, and have made it through 2 x FF. My calf pretty much gave out on the first but by Jan 2 I banked some solid improvements over three months. MAP is up to 307, FTP at 249 (so close!).

I’ve signed up to a big mass century ride in London (RideLondon-Essex) at the end of May, which is really different of course from the SUF workouts and some of Z***t riding I did last winter. I know there’s a Century plan in Systm, but it’s only 12 weeks, so kicks off in March. My question is simple: what should I be doing NOW? Suggestions very welcome - I’ve really enjoyed the focus of the SUF/Systm training, but have to admit I’m also a bit tempted to try the group rides again on the other platform.

Thanks in advance - your answers are always really helpful and thoughtful so I’m sure you’ll give me some food for thought.


So having trained in SYSTM last year for two centuries, here’s my two cents. I focused on “butt on the saddle” time, since I wasn’t used to the length of the event(s). I started 24 weeks out, so did the Metric Century plan, then the Century plan. After those, my two rides went really, really well.

You have basically 20 weeks to end of May, so I would suggest looking at a couple of focused 4-week blocks - maybe MAP and FTP blocks (raise your MAP ceiling so that you can raise your FTP) - then do HM and/or FF to update your numbers and strengths/weaknesses, THEN launch the Century plan, which will be tailored to your weaknesses, but regardless will focus on longer, FTP-focused efforts. You’ll get the long distance mileage and the time-in-saddle training you need that your Century should be a great ride for you.

Best of luck, enjoy your spring!


I’d suggest getting outside when you can and do rides ranging from 30 to 60 miles. For me, it’s more of a mental thing. Divide and conquer. I’d just viewed it as three 33 mile rides back to back. If I could comfortably do 33 miles, I could tough it out through a century. I’d stop twice at aid stations (~33 and 66 miles in), quickly down some food, take care of business, replenish supplies and get on my way…maybe 10 minutes. I’d keep it as short as practical as I found resting to be counterproductive. It’d kill my momentum and make it much tougher to get going again.

Years ago I would do the annual STP ride, Seattle WA to Portland OR, 200 miles. A few would do it in one day, but I did it in two along with the vast majority. What was really notable was the wide range of participants, kids to geezers, all shapes and sized, all levels of experience, on all types of bikes ranging from hard-core roadies to fat tire cruisers and even unicycles. It was clear that many were not regular cyclists, yet still successfully completed the ride, and had a great time doing it.


Thanks @CPT_A and @Saddlesaur - both of these suggestions seem like a good idea. I did an FTP block this autumn so I try to can vary things up with a MAP block now (armed with new FF numbers - seems like a challenge). Outdoor rides will be few and far between until the weather/light is a bit better, but hopefully not too far away.


FInd a local club and get some practice riding in a group at pace.
Ride London is known for 2 things:

  1. Lightning fast average speeds.
  2. Massive packs of riders with no experience of group riding and questionable bike handling skills
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Not sure about the lightning speed but your second point sounds like me!


When I first started road cycling, I rode with Team-in-Training, the charity fund-raising arm of the Leukemia Lymphoma Society.

Their training plan was really simple, just add 10 miles on each Saturday’s group ride. They did not prescribe anything during the week, but the assumption was that participants would remain active, doing something to retain or build fitness.

They would start at 20 miles and build up to 70 miles then a rest week before the century.

That provides an 8 week training plan and worked out well for me, starting as a complete novice in 2014 (not sure the exact year). My goal at that time was simply to finish my first century.

The century training plan in SYSTM is solid, and would see you not just finish, but excel on yours. The main thing is simply building endurance every week. There is no substitute for time in the saddle.


It may sound like it sucks, but you need butt-in-saddle time. @Sir_Brian_M said you need to get to 70 or more miles. I road with a group and we started at 30 miles and built up, every week, to hit that goal TWO weeks before event (in this case, El Tour de Tucson with a LOT of climbing and other odd bits). You have a lot of time as you could do this in 10 weeks. One thing you have to keep in mind is the 2/3 rule. thus if your goal is to finish the ride in six hours saddle time, you could do four hours indoors on an Endurance or a couple of Open:120 rides. You just have to get in solid blocks of time.



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This sounds so much like the maximum 10-minutes break in the Knighthood quest, but I do second the notion of not resting too for the exact same reasoning as yours.

As for riding a century in 5 months time, I think what @gafferbee, you can do is, try setting scheduling the plan from the end date? Anytime before the plan starts, perhaps do a MAP and/or FTP block to build up the endurance? As Sir @CPT_A mentioned, butt-in-saddle time is important and getting out and on the road to ride.
The suggestion from @Saddlesaur to divide the ride into sections (I divided my first metric century in 40km sections) is a good plan, at least it is less daunting than looking at the total 160km.

Thanks everyone. I’m not so fazed at the idea of the century or event itself - yes it’s longer than I’ve ridden before but I know friends who’ve done it and I know it’s perfectly achievable. Now feels like a good time to do a bit more MAP work as suggested and discover some new workouts without too much pressure. Then I can do the Century plan and build up endurance. I do want to find a group for outdoor rides but I’ll have to see what happens there. I know a colleague at work is doing the event too but we live pretty far apart.

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The reason why the longer breaks make it difficult to get riding again is that that your legs “cool off”, and you have to warm them up again.

Because the MAP workouts are the BEST!

:face_vomiting: :face_vomiting: :face_vomiting:


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In 2020 in March I ran a marathon. Other than that, I was a beginner cyclist that rarely rode more than 60 minutes. 42 miles was my longest ride by a lot, and that was a few months in the past.

I did almost nothing in April before starting to use The Sufferfest and ride indoors.

In October I rode my first Full Century Ride and I did it Indoors using The Sufferfest app. And then I completed my first Knighthood the next month in November.

So with 5 months and your current fitness you can definitely do it!

I like the idea of doing the Metric Century and then Full Century plans. Those will definitely get you ready.

If you’re looking for a little more oomph in your workout, then do the Gravel Grinder 100 or 200 training plans instead of the Full Century plan. That will give you a bit more added MAP/AC focus.

I have full confidence in you.


A big part of a century ride is going to be mental. Years and years ago, i went from couch to a century in about 8 weeks. Physically i was about beat to death at the end of the century but it really came down to just gutting it out. So yes, train your body so you can enjoy the ride and be able to celebrate at the end but also look mental aspect of being in the saddle all day. :wink:

As far was virtual group rides… I would definitely check out the RGT group rides. We had a fantastic group ride this week with Ian Boswell and Sir Neal! Also check out RGT Magic Roads which allows you to create your own course. I’ve been creating Magic Road courses for my upcoming events.


Thanks everyone for all the tips. I think I’m going to try a 4-week MAP block, moderate volume if that fits with life (I’ll skip a few workouts if it doesn’t) with a longer Z2 ride on a Sunday, indoors for now while it’s still grim outdoors. That’ll get me into February and then I won’t be far away from starting the Century plan. The only wrinkle is that I’m being dragged into 10-hour workdays and three days of commuting per week for the next few months, so let’s see how I find the time. Fingers crossed.


Hi - seeking advice on this as the weeks roll by. I did most of a 4 week MAP block (life got in the way a bit, I haven’t got to Blender yet!), have done a 2hr+ outdoor ride and some 1.5-2hr Z2 rides indoors. Also tried Alpe du Z***t to benchmark myself against a year ago. Should I do another 4DP before starting a Systm century plan at the start of March? And do I just trust the plan from then on?

@gafferbee For a 12 week plan some sort of test is a good idea. You could certainly do a Half Monty if you don’t want to prep for Full Frontal.


Ah yes. Good idea, thanks.

I did exactly this for a century race i did last September, though i think i did the metric century plan THEN the century. I did the high mileage option and i felt very well prepared for my century. Set a PR in fact.

Best of luck.

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