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Training for racing

Dave_P1Dave_P1 Posts: 565
edited September 2011 in Health, fitness & training
For those of you that race, what sort of training do you do? Is it Road miles, hill training??
I've raced a few times this season but I certainly need to improve my times if I want to see the better end of the open class.




  • weeksy59weeksy59 Posts: 2,606
    Speak to Njee... in simplest terms, tehy do censored LOADS .... and they do it harder and faster and harder and faster a...... well.. you get the point.

    Do your normal ride 20% harder/quicker than you normally can.... then 10% more... one day... you'll get there.

    I found the difference between the fast lads and myself is completly and utterly irrelevent. They live and breathe in a world i don't exist in.
  • njee20njee20 Posts: 9,613
    Hello, thought my ears were burning :-)

    You need to train your weakness. If you run out of energy, and your laps get slower as you go then you need to do longer steady rides to build up endurance.

    If your endurance is fine, but you're really lagging on the hills, do some hill reps.

    If you climb like a mountain goat but are dreadful at starting or any sort of flat effort, then do some flat sprinty intervals.

    IME most people in the Open class suffer with the former. Sadly that's probably the hardest to address (in time terms) as what you ideally want to do is knock out some long steady rides, which can be a bit dull and time consuming. Most people find this easier to do on the road (me included) as you can just sit at a steady level without being influenced by terrain as much.

    Saying that... if you're struggling with a 90 minute race, then you just need to ride for more than 90 minutes, you needn't be doing 30 hour weeks.

    You need to enjoy your training, or you'll stop enjoying racing. Don't stop riding with your current group, but try not to stop as much. Start every climb at the back, then finish at the front (if you're the quickest), or try riding with quicker people to push yourself. Don't stop at the top of every climb, get out of the saddle and sprint over the top etc. It needn't be too hard.

    FWIW I usually do around 10 hours a week training to be in the middle of Expert, sometimes more, sometimes less. No reason you can't do very well in Open on less to be honest, but it depends on the time you have available. If you can spare 6 hours a week then you're better doing four 1.5 hour sessions than a 5 hour session plus a quick blast in the week. I tend to commute into work 3-4 days a week, then do a long ride at the weekend. To be honest I'd like to do more, but you've got to have a balance!

    Sorry. Long reply...
  • Great reply!

    Simple and to the point.
  • ollie51ollie51 Posts: 517
    As Njee said train your weaknesses, not your strengths. It's easy to train your strengths but it offers very little in terms of improvement, especially when considered to the yield that can be gained from training weaknesses. And if you're not sure where your weaknesses lie, ask yourself, where or when during a race do I get dropped. At the start, at the end or on the climbs? etc.

    It may also be worth picking up a copy of Joseph Friels's Training guide or John Metacalfe's both a very good, perhaps a little old fashioned but nonetheless very informative.
  • Dave_P1Dave_P1 Posts: 565
    Thanks for the help guys, much appreciated.
    njee, no need to apologise for the long reply, it was that kind of thing I was looking for.

    To be honest, I feel like I'm working hard from the start to the end of the race, high heart rate from the off, however, I always seem to have some energy left in my legs for the sprint to the finish line.
    I think it's the hills where I lose out, perhaps just not enough power in the legs? Time to find some hard hills then! A question regarding climbing when training / racing, should I sit and learn to spin more, or try a harder gear and perhaps stand up out of the pedals?
  • njee20njee20 Posts: 9,613
    Different things work for different people, but in general sitting is more energy efficient. For short sharp climbs a few big strokes out of the saddle can work, but for anything longer sitting will tire you less.

    What races are you doing incidentally, Gorricks?
  • ddraverddraver Posts: 25,185
    Dave - I think something like that will come with experience. As a novice my HR is always way higher than usual as I'm buzzing the whole way round! My mates keep having to tell me to calm down!
    We're in danger of confusing passion with incompetence
    - @ddraver
  • njee20njee20 Posts: 9,613
    You can't compare your HR to anyone else's though, so the fact it's high isn't an issue per se. Some people just have a high HR. I do for one, have averaged 198bpm for a 2hr+ race.

    What's a bigger issue is being at 200bpm on lap one, then not being above 180 on lap 2, and struggling to do 170 on lap 3. If it stays high throughout you're fine!

    Other things to help climbing, try riding in a higher gear than usual on the flat. Don't change down when you stop for traffic lights, so you have to have a good dig to get away from the lights. Do it one handed and in the saddle for a good core workout too!

    IMO you can do far worse than focus what riding you do to maximise the training aspects!
  • Dave_P1Dave_P1 Posts: 565
    I've ridden the Southern XC series this year.

    The heart rate stays high through the whole race so that must be a good thing, when I say high, I mean a high heart rate compared to the normal rides I do.
  • njee20njee20 Posts: 9,613
    Yep, so it sounds like you need to go doing some hill reps to maximise your speed there. The whole point is to do them at a speed you can't sustain, faster than you'd normally ride, such that your body adapts to it.

    If it's longer hills you struggle with you want to find a reasonable length hill and ride it at a constant hard pace, don't go so hard at the bottom you're crawling by the top. Roll down, and repeat. Try and beat your time on each successive rep, try using the same gears and try it seated and stood up, alternate on the reps if you want to compare.

    Once you can't get within a few seconds of the time before, go home. If you feel tired when you start, go home, there's no point doing sessions like that when you're tired.

    IMO the big thing is to mix it up and keep it fun. Just going and riding up and down the same hill repeatedly with no real goal isn't interesting, there's no reason not to just end up plodding up! Record your sessions too, so you can revisit them and see how much quicker you've got.

    You can play it the other way, although IMO it's better for sprinty stuff; start at the bottom of a climb, see how far you get in 2 minutes (say), roll down, try and beat that marker.
  • Dave_P1Dave_P1 Posts: 565
    Thanks for the advice njee.

    I use a garmin anyway so that will be spot on for recording everything and it will also tell me if I'm taking it too easy.
    I like the idea of trying to beat my time on a particular hill as that brings in the competive edge which should click my brain into winning mode.
  • ollie51ollie51 Posts: 517
    Although you've got to make sure when you don't beat X time you don't beat yourself up. Especially during the winter when the trails become significantly slower. Factor in variables when comparing times. Only compare X time to Y time if the variables are the similar.
  • njee20njee20 Posts: 9,613
    I'd only do something like that on the road. I'd also generally only make comparisons on that session, don't worry if you're not quite as quick as you were on the previous session. There's lots of variables, and it's the sort of thing you'd hope to see a gradual increase over a period of weeks and months.

    Sessions like that will take it out of you, I'd not do that more than twice a week though, and well rested.
  • Dave_P1Dave_P1 Posts: 565
    I'm going to use my road bike for all this hill training as I can work on the same hills if needs be and the ground is always going to be the same.
    Twice a week though will probably suit me well as I will be out riding other days in the week anyway doing various different types of rides.
  • ddraverddraver Posts: 25,185
    njee20 wrote:
    You can't compare your HR to anyone else's though, so the fact it's high isn't an issue per se. Some people just have a high HR. I do for one, have averaged 198bpm for a 2hr+ race. quote]

    Higher than my usual HR, sorry.....
    We're in danger of confusing passion with incompetence
    - @ddraver
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