Ask RIDE…How do I train for a time trial?

I want to start training for an upcoming time trial but I don’t have the faintest idea of where to start. Could you please tell me what I can do to best prepare for the 40km event?

Best regards,


Greg’s question follows on from a previous Ask RIDE where Tom asked: “I want to race! What do I do next?” We decided to cover a number of different types of races so riders like Greg and Tom could ensure they were prepared for the task. Current New Zealand national TT champion, Westley Gough has provided insight into the specific training to get into race-shape for events like the national titles.


There are many different theories and practices around training for a longer individual time trial and of course everyone responds to different types of training in different ways but here’s my take. It will definitely help if you know what works for your body. You can do this by looking back to past performances and analysing the types of rides you were doing before hand.

Getting training underway for a TT is relatively simple. Greg should start to include some 1-2 hour tempo rides into his weekly routine. These are not performed at time trial pace but just below, helping to build his foundation for shorter duration and higher intensity efforts which will follow.

Once you feel ready, it’s time to give your body a really hard workout. This will involve what I call ‘TT pace efforts’ of 15-20min where I try to hold a near maximal pace. These shouldn’t be easy so don’t worry if it they feel terrible in the first few minutes because you’ll soon warm up into the required pace. Keep your heart rate consistent and don’t start too hard because you should be completing 2 or 3 of these throughout each ride. Find a nice cadence and keep your pedalling as smooth and even as possible. Depending on your level of fitness you may only be able to manage one but keep working at it. During the next week try two and build from there so they can be done a few times during your normal normal road ride. Take a break between each effort, spin the legs and ride easy for at least 20 minutes before going again.

The intervals will become shorter closer to the event where 8-10 minute efforts are used to sharpen up the form. These are done at absolute maximal pace, four repetitions is ideal and again remember to recover between each effort.

Give yourself plenty of time to adjust to the training and you will get some great benefits. Shorter, maximal efforts of up to 20 minutes are great for improving your race fitness but don’t neglect the longer rides and races. Try to strike a nice balance and give the hard interval sessions a good nudge on the days you feel most ready for it!


Westley is the current New Zealand time trial champion and has represented his country at the Beijing Olympics, World Cups and World Championships. He rides for the Subway Pro Cycling team in New Zealand. Follow him on Twitter @westleygough or his team website.

Author: design@ride

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