1000 Small Chain Ring Miles

By Todd Jensen, PhD

Tri Faster LLC

 Tri Faster was started by professional triathlete Lauren Jensen and her husband Todd Jensen as a way to offer rookie and veteran triathletes a set of unique clinics and camps along with personal coaching. Our concentration is on our clinics, camps and mobile fitness apps, but some space is available for personalized coaching and one-time skill sessions or consultations. Visit us at to learn more!

Nancy from Tennessee

Triathlon Event When I first started serious cycling back in the dark ages (1980s), a mentor taught me a base training rule for building a good base during the spring. While training techniques have come and gone, our biomechanics and physiology still dictate the need to slowly ramp up the intensity over the season to allow our muscles, tendons, and ligaments to become strong enough to handle the longer and harder efforts. Unlike our heart and aerobic system which can make great gains in short periods of times, our muscles and other tissues can take much longer. Therefore, to avoid injuries now and later in the year, it is important to not over extend ourselves before our bodies are ready.

So, what does “1000 Small Chain Ring Miles” mean?
In the 1980s, it meant after a long winter of shorter indoor rides, some strength training, and lots of couch and bar stool time, we would never shift the chain to our large chain ring until we had at least 1000 outdoor miles of riding under our belts. We may be able to get away with intervals and harder efforts during short indoor winter rides because the lower overall volume allows us to recover completely between sessions. But when the volume ramps up during the spring and the body becomes more tired, it is harder to recover. Conciously backing off the effort and avoiding hard gears helps you avoid over extending yourself. This applies to other sports, also. For example, with running would avoid steep hills or all out quarters.

When do you start adding the intensity and big chain ring back into your training? This is fairly individual, depending upon your current fitness and goals. But a rule of thumb would be to spend 6 to 8 weeks doing the fairly easy base training. Towards the end of this period you can add short up tempo efforts (still in the small chain ring if cycling) and then some hills into your routes. Recommended Resources:


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