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Sample Class: Biking the Boston Marathon

Share a classic race plan with indoor cycling participants.

There’s something special about running a marathon. Why not bring the marathon indoors and give your cycling participants a runner’s high? In this class we’ll ride the Boston Marathon and create a unique and exciting experience from start to finish. Each stage is described in detail, offering rich visual imagery. By using these cues, you’ll help students feel that they are truly “in the race.” Interchange visual imagery with solid technical coaching (see the chart)—this is a proven method for making time fly by.

Biking the Boston Marathon Details

FORMAT: mixed-intensity cycling (rolling

hills, flats and intervals)

TOTAL TIME: approximately 60 minutes

EQUIPMENT NEEDED: indoor cycling bikes

MUSIC: see chart for suggestions

INTENSITY MONITORING: rating of perceived exertion

ZONE SCALE: (taken from The Schwinn® Indoor Cycling Instructor Training Manual, Stairmaster Inc.):

Easy (zone 1): warm-up, cool-down and recovery

Moderate (zone 2): challenging, but comfortable; training pace

Hard (zone 3): challenging and uncomfortable; “race pace”

Anaerobic (zone 4): not “max,” but breathless

Stage 1: Warm-Up (~6–10 minutes)

The start is lined with thousands of runners and fans. The national anthem has been sung, and the gun has started the race. Wrap your mind around the six stages ahead: warm up, rolling hills, flat, hills, the sprint to the end and the victory lap. The race plan is to bank your energy on the first half—the race really begins in the second half. When you approach Newton Hills, you’ll need to leave it all on the course.

Stage 2: Rolling Hills (~15 minutes)

The course is packed with runners, fans, and little kids handing out oranges and water. Remember: bank your energy, not your time. Fast, rolling hills start this race. Stay relaxed and comfortable on the downhills, and increase intensity on the uphills. Focus on conserving your energy. Can you keep this level of intensity? Save your legs, as you’ll need them later. Get your head and heart on the same page. What can you do to stay relaxed? Manage your breath patterns.

Stage 3: Flat (~8 minutes)

Catch your breath once you get past the rolling hills, and take it easy. Are you mentally ready for this flat? It passes through small towns and by the Charles River, where people are cheering you on! You hear a whistle in the distance. It’s a half mile to Wellesley College. The cheering gives you a second wind, and you are almost at the halfway point. Can you feel the excitement?

Stage 4: Hill Climb (~17 minutes)

This is the true start of the race. You face four hills (the Newton Hills). They get progressively more difficult, ending with the famous Heartbreak Hill. Did you follow your race plan and save your legs for the last half? People are moving to the side of the road. The Boston crowds are screaming, “Suck it up.” You feel strong on the uphill. Can you add more resistance and keep your cadence to increase your intensity without going breathless on the first three hills? Can you add more resistance to make each hill more difficult? In the last minute, kick it in and go breathless. Can you do it? Will your heart break today?

Stage 5: Intervals (~8 minutes)

While approaching the boisterous Boston College students, catch your breath and hydrate. You’re in the home stretch. Kids offer you popsicles as you make it to the heart of Boston. You pass Fenway Park, and thousands of screaming Red Sox fans are singing their favorite song, “Tessie,” as you recover on the bike. If you lack the breath to sing more than a few words, keep recovering.

You feel like a rock star as you approach the finish line. Thousands cheer you in. You hear the announcer’s voice as you approach the finish line. Dig deep to go breathless and pass three competitors in your age group. Go breathless two times in a seated sprint for 30 seconds or for a chorus of the song. During the last minute, go breathless in a seated sprint and pass your last competitor.

Stage 6: Cool-Down and Victory Lap (~8 minutes)

You did it! Did you follow the race plan today? Did you bank your energy on the first half and expend all you had on the back side? Is there something you will take with you from this ride that will enhance your future rides? Get your medal. You deserve it!

Biking the Boston Marathon Stages


Concerned about your place in the new fitness industry? We have 40 years of experience supporting pros just like you! Let’s create a new wellness paradigm together—IDEAfit+ is the extra edge you need. Once you team up with IDEA, be sure to take full advantage of all the benefits of membership.

Doris Thews

Doris Thews is an international award-winning fitness educator and 2019 World IDEA Fitness Instructor of the year. Known for her motivational and athletic coaching style, Doris leads and presents for several fitness brands; she is a senior master trainer for Schwinn and a member of the development & master trainer team for BOSU®. Doris is the CEO of Team Thews Fitness, which consults with several leading global brands on business, fitness technology, program development and executive strategy. In addition to presenting and lecturing internationally, she is also a keynote speaker and a RYKA fit-pro ambassador.

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