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Charlie Livermore’s training plan

The Empire State Ride is lucky to have the support of professional cycling coach Charlie Livermore as an advisor and friend. Charlie is not only a coach at Carmichael Training Systems, but also serves as a training consultant on our adventure across New York State. He offers his expertise and tips to all our riders, as well as joins us in riding 500+ miles in July. Here’s what he has to say about training for the Empire State Ride. 

Hi everyone, Charlie here.

I’m happy to announce that the 2021 training plans are now live. The cycling fitness and experience level of Empire State Ride participants is broad. As a coach, I’ve been challenged to provide the right advice for this wide range of riders. What is good training for an advanced rider is not necessarily good for a beginner and a beginner training plan does not serve the advanced rider.  

In an attempt to better serve all of you, I divided the group into three categories and created three versions of the training plan:

  • Beginner Training Plan – This group ranges from participants who are brand new to cycling or those that will start riding in the spring and summer months to prepare for this year’s adventure.
  • Intermediate Training Plan – This  plan is designed for cyclists who ride all year around. Intermediate riders can tackle the distance, but it will be a significant challenge.
  • Advanced Training Plan – This plan is designed for cyclists who ride all year around. Cycling is their passion. These cyclists can easily tackle this year’s distance. Their goal is to ride the 540 miles at the highest average speed they can achieve every single day.

Before beginning any of these plans, make sure to digest all the information presented below to familiarize yourself with the language you’ll find in each plan. 

Train Right

Before jumping into whichever plan you decide on, it’s important to start with the basics. 

Whether this is your first time participating in the Empire State Ride or you are an experienced multi-day event rider, you’ll benefit from having a structured training plan. Week-long ridrs aren’t just about training more – they’re about training right. Training right will help keep you safe and healthy while tackling our cross-state adventure. 

A few things to note

1. Don’t forget to warm up and warm up the right way: warm ups can vary depending on the day, but you want to do at least 15 minutes of conversational riding before you start high intensity intervals. The warm up period may be anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes, but it’s more important to focus on the specificity of the intervals than getting in an exact number of minutes.  Use your warm up to get to the best place on the road to do your intervals. For this reason, workout days will be listed with a total duration that is longer than the total time of the actual intervals.  After you warm up and complete the intervals, then you complete the total duration of the ride at an endurance pace. 

2. Remember RPE: RPE stands for Rate of Perceived Exertion. It’s a very simple measure of workload to determine how hard you feel you are exercising. In a training setting, the RPE scale is from 1 to 10 –  with 1 being no exertion and 10 being a maximum effort. Each workout has an RPE associated with it to get the best adaptation. To use this scale, you need to understand what you’re trying to accomplish with each workout. The below table lays it all out for you. 

The Training Plans

Now that you understand the importance of training, it’s time to check out the plans. Below, you will find the three training plans. 

DEscriptions of Workouts

If you’re unfamiliar with some of the language used in the training programs, here is a helpful guide:

1. Recovery Miles (RM) – Recovery Miles is exactly that – miles to help you recover. This needs to be very easy to allow you to recover from the previous days. They’ll range anywhere from 40 – 60 minutes and should be substantially easier than Endurance Miles. It should be 4 – 5 on an RPE scale and have a frequency of 2 – 3 times per week. 

2. Endurance Miles (EM) – This is the intensity that much of your riding time will consist of. Many people refer to it as their forever pace, but it’s also the time around your interval sets. Theses rides should be a 5 or 6 on the RPE scale and range from 90 minutes to 6+ hours. Your speed will vary with uphills and downhills, but remember to keep your perceived exertion the same. Going uphill at the same speed requires more work, which can turn your Endurance Miles into Steady State (see below) fairly quickly.

3. Fast Pedal (FP) – This workout should be performed on a relatively flat section of road or on an indoor trainer. The gearing should be light with low pedal resistance. Begin slowly and increase your pedal speed, starting out with about 15 or 16 pedal revolutions per 10-second count. This equates to a cadence of 90 to 96 RPM. While staying in the saddle, increase your pedal speed, keeping your hips smooth with no rocking. Concentrate on pulling through the bottom of the pedal stroke and over the top. After one minute of Fast Pedal, you should be maintaining 18 to 20 pedal revolutions per 10-second count, or a cadence of 108 to 120 RPM for the entire time of the workout. Your heart rate will climb while doing this workout, but don’t use it to judge your training intensity. It is important that you try to ride the entire length of the Fast Pedal workout with as few interruptions as possible because it should consist of consecutive riding at the prescribed training intensity.

4. Tempo (T) – Tempo workouts are that pace between your Endurance Miles and lactate threshold. These workouts help develop a stronger aerobic engine by maintaining an effort outside of your comfort zone. They should be a 7 on the RPE scale and range from 15 – 45 minutes for each interval. Be very careful that you don’t let your intensity level get into your lactate threshold. It’s very easy to let it creep up, but faster doesn’t always mean better. You need to be able to sustain that pace for longer periods of time to get the best adaptation. 

5. SteadyState (SS) – Steady State is probably the most well-known term in these workouts. They’re a very important part of training and are very strenuous. They should be done at or slightly below your lactate threshold at an RPE of 8 – 9. These intervals are shorter than Tempo because of the intensity involved. Each interval ranges from 8 to 20 minutes and has a 2-to-1 recovery ratio. A typical workout may look like 3×10 minute with 5 minutes of active recovery between each interval.   

6. Power Intervals (PI) – Power Intervals are short, extremely strenuous intervals that help develop your VO2 max (maximum rate of oxygen consumption measured during incremental exercise). They last 1 to 3 minutes at an RPE of 10. Warming up before these is even more important, so make sure to get in 15 – 30 minutes of conversational riding before you start the intervals. The recovery period is 1 to 1, so 1 minute intervals have 1 minute of active recovery.  


Now that you have a training plan and a basic understanding of the fundamentals, it’s time to get started! If you’re interested in learning more about a personalized plan, you can reach out to me at