Have you created a training plan yet?

March is a tough time of year for getting out riding.  I don’t know about you, but by this time, I am no longer excited about the snow and the cold.  I find more excuses not to ride than i would have early in the winter, even though I know that now is the time to start ramping up my training.  Its just the cold…. I am so sick of it.  It has gone on long enough!  This year is particularly bad, because we had a brilliant warm snap in February, so going back to temps near -20C feel more like I am jumping into the arctic ocean than looking toward spring.

So what do I do instead? I make my plan for the year!  Its a great time to start because it will help me be accountable for the next few weeks while temps remain below 0, but it will also get me psyched up (or perhaps psyched out) because I get to see that the ride season is really not that far out and I have a clear path to get there.  Yay!

Unless you are a spreadsheet whiz/junkie like myself, you may feel a little overwhelmed, so today I will share with you what I use to plan my rides.

1. I start with my main goal and a ride calendar

Ashley and I have set our sights (or main goal in this case) on Shore to Shore in August.  I stick that baby into my spreadsheet and start working backward, using the OCTRA ride calendar.  If you aren’t from Ontario, use your local ride organization calendar.

My goal is to do more multi-day riding in preparation for Shore to Shore, as well as longer rides at a slower pace so we lose that “racey” pace we had last year.  So I go through the calendar and pick rides where I can ride 2+ days and try to maximize my distance.  Of course, I know this is a perfect world plan so I won’t be devastated if I have to drop distances or a ride altogether, but this is what I want to do.  More more more, slow slow slow.

What I will add here too, is your main goal may not be what mine is.  Maybe you want to do your first 50 or 100.  Start with the goal, the date you want to achieve it, and work back using logical stepping stones.

Here, you will also see that I have a calculated rest period.  A general rule I have derived from mentors, presentations and reading that I will use for myself is 1 day of rest for every 10 miles in competition.  I have added in 2 extra days to account for the stresses of travel and bing bang boom, I am able to calculate what day I will next be able to sit on the back of my dearest Bentley.  Double check… yup, its not after the next ride.  Whoopie!  Alternately, you could use the FEI rest guidelines.

2.  Work up to your first ride of the season

I have found once I get Bentley fit enough for the first ride, that I don’t have to do too much to keep him fit throughout the season.  In fact, rest becomes more important than work.  So I focus my training plan on what to do until that first ride so that we are ready to go.

Another rule of thumb I learned early on and tend to go by is that my total weekly miles should be approximately what I would like to do in one ride (so if my first ride will total 25 miles, I should be riding 25 miles a week on average – higher distance rides I tend to go a little lower and allow more wiggle room in the program to ensure adequate rest).  So again, I work back from the ride date and distance and try to make it work.  I try to build 5-10% each week in distance.

This is also where I can take a look to see if where I am now = where I should be based on my rate of building.  Looking at my plan here, I can go out this weekend and try to do 25 miles and say “ok yes, the plan should work” or “nope, hes too fat, maybe I should pick a shorter distance for my first ride”.  Then I adjust my plan forward and back until I come to a happy medium.  There is no late scrambling to catch up when it comes to fitness, I need to do this now!

You will also see I have colour coded everything.  I try to mix up long rides, interval training and ring work/lesson so I get our cross training in.

3. Budget

Ok, now here is something I wish I hadn’t done because nobody ever really wants to know the final number when you ask “how much is this going to cost me?”

I am not actually going to share my budget, because I know my significant other will read this and tell me “hell  no!” before I even dip the toe in, but to be fair, I like to pad my budget so I always have extra and can say “look how good I was!”.

The basics of your budget should include fixed and variable costs.  In fact, I would even say we have 2 different types of variable costs to consider when looking at our competition.  So here are some of the numbers to jot down.

Fixed Costs – these are things you have to pay whether you ride once, or go to every ride.  These would include your insurance, memberships, annual shots/teeth (though you could argue this is not so much a competition expense… like I said, I pad my budget).  This may also include things like hoof protection if you plan on using something like boots through the entire season or longer.

Variable costs (per ride/day) – These would be the things that the more rides you go to, the more you have to pay, but not necessarily dependent on how many miles you do during the ride.  In here, I would include total entry fee, people food, travel costs to and from the ride, chiropractic or massage work that you will have done before and/or after the ride (include for you and/or your horse depending on who needs it), hoof protection (if you use shoes and need to put on a new set before each ride) and probably extra food for your horse.

Some of these would be a cost per day like people food, I gave myself a budget of $30/day for my food, so if its a 3 day ride (+2 days travel), I will ensure to budget for each day. Others, like travel, will only happen once per ride no matter how many days you camp out.

Variable costs (per mile) – these are things that you will need more of the longer/more miles you ride, I might also call these consumables.  In here, I include electrolytes and other supplements (such as pro-bi and BCAA) and miscellaneous veterinary supplies that I would likely need on longer rides.

I would quantify them as a dollar per mile value based on dosing instructions (ie for electrolytes, I have previously used an estimate of $1 per mile).

This is also where I will consider wear and tear on my equipment.  I realize that I am going to ride holes through my pants, and probably break some straps here and there, so I add some padding in again with a dollar per mile value that I can set aside (if I am being good of course) and save for that rainy day that I need to replace a piece of equipment. If my equipment doesn’t break?  Oh well then… I see there are some awesome new products at the ESRR web store.. maybe I treat myself to something fun?

Lastly, I add everything up and get a total for the ride.  My fixed costs will be divided through the total amount of rides I do and the variable costs will be added.  Assuming I have done an individual line item for each ride, I can also go a step further and calculate either a dollar per day amount, or dollar per mile ridden amount.  That way, if I am running short on cash (highly likely after seeing he final number), I have a better idea which rides I should cut based on my goals – its all about value for me!


I know this may not have been the most exciting read… it takes a certain type of crazy to enjoy this dry, mathematical work, but well, I am that certain type of crazy!  The bottom line is that making the plan will help you visualize the path to your goal and determine if it is achievable with the time and resources you have at your disposal.  Then down the line, if things go awry, you can adjust and move forward rather than starting from scratch.

And hey, after looking at my budget… if you want to just give up on the math and have me to make a training plan and budget for you… well I think we could negotiate something in exchange for a donation to our Shore to Shore campaign! Lol!

Happy calculating, and happy riding all!

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