Improving Stamina - XC Riding

gt-arrowhead
gt-arrowhead Posts: 2,507
edited January 2014 in Health, fitness & training
Hi, a couple of weeks back i started riding XC properly. I have only done two 3-4 hour rides and im really enjoying it and i plan to carry on and make it a weekly thing. I rode short XC trails before then, for around half an hour, and i also commute every day so im on my bike quite regularly.

I find that when im riding i like to bolt off infront and just ride quickly through everything, and then around the last 30-40 minutes i begin to feel a bit exhausted. I want to be able to maintain a decent pace throughout the ride, and this means improving my stamina.

What is the best way to improve stamina? Will it just come naturally, as ive only done it twice?

Thanks.

Comments

  • njee20
    njee20 Posts: 9,613
    It'll come naturally. Don't bolt off the front if you want to avoid blowing up.
  • Have you got a Heart rate Monitor? if so, go out on some long 3-4 hour rides keeping your heart rate in zone 2-3 (get off and push if needs be to keep the rate down) doing this for a few weeks will increase stamina, and the speed at which you ride (especially when ticking over in zones 2-3)

    Other than that, resist the urge to bolt off the front, ride more longer distances, and don't underestimate the importance of food and water
    Bikes:
    Cannondale Killer V 1995 (Promo model) - My first Race bike now converted to a commuter
    Lapierre X-Flow 712 - XC fs rocket
    Pivot Mach 6 - Enduro Machine
    Pinarello FP2 - Roadie
  • Thanks for the replies.

    I havent got a heart rate monitor unfortunately.

    Why would getting off and walking to keep your heart rate down improve stamina? Wouldnt going on with as little amount of stops as possible improve stamina?

    I like to bolt off because i just find it more fun, thats why i want to improve my stamina, so i can still ride quickly without feeling dead at the end of the ride.

    I think i could also do a few things to my bike to make riding a bit easier. Is that a good idea?
  • It's to do with conditioning your heart, and keeping your riding within threshold limits - i.e. training your heart to work better at lower intensity, which then allows you to spend a greater % of your time at the lower rate for a given pace. This in turn extends the distances you can ride when going at your best pace.

    I know getting off and pushing sounds counter intuitive, but it's really about "training" rather than just doing exercise. Essentially what you are doing is building a strong Aerobic base fitness by doing this, this makes you more efficient overall, yes hills might still kill your legs, but you'll be cruising on the flat quicker than before using less energy/strength, leaving it for the important bits. It is also worth noting, that when you are knackered, it becomes harder to get your heart rate up, and therefore you rely more on your heart's ability at lower heart rates (noticed this when I did LEjog in 10 days - the last few days I ddin't get above mid point zone 4, whereas the first few days there were plenty of hills that got be up into the high zone 5s)

    You won't see imediate effects, but if you persist once a week doing this kind of long, low intensity ride once a week for a period of a month, the benefit will be noticeable and measureable.

    Using this method, got me to the point that 10 hours of riding is not a problem for me provided I eat & drink enoough.
    Bikes:
    Cannondale Killer V 1995 (Promo model) - My first Race bike now converted to a commuter
    Lapierre X-Flow 712 - XC fs rocket
    Pivot Mach 6 - Enduro Machine
    Pinarello FP2 - Roadie
  • Have a read of this for further info on the HR training zones: http://www.endurancefactor.com/Articles ... intro.html
    Bikes:
    Cannondale Killer V 1995 (Promo model) - My first Race bike now converted to a commuter
    Lapierre X-Flow 712 - XC fs rocket
    Pivot Mach 6 - Enduro Machine
    Pinarello FP2 - Roadie
  • Thanks for the link.

    Ive read other stuff similar to what you have said. So basically, i should just ride around the trails and fireroad at a normal pace and that will improve my stamina?

    I take a bottle of water with me and a few small chocolate bars. I never really feel like i really want a drink, but i drink some anyway. I end up only drinking half of the bottle, but i ate all 5 of my small chocolate bars :D What do you usually take?

    I tend to eat fairly unhealthily, apart from my dinners. Otherwise its generally more unhealthy things. Like for lunch at school id probably have fast food twice a week or something. (Im not fat at all, and i wouldnt really call myself unfit either). I should check my weight out again, as the last time i checked my weight was in the summer, and i was 62 KG. And im 5 ft 7
  • njee20
    njee20 Posts: 9,613
    Mmmm, I'd ignore parts of that frankly, sod getting off an walking to keep your HR down. You're unlikely to notice a difference after a month of weekly rides either.

    If you only ever do short rides then just do more, it'll come.

    Food and drink is pretty personal. I like High 5 for longer rides, I'm rubbish at drinking, I find that having something other than water makes me drink. Would only bother for longer rides though. Supplement with 'real' food or energy bars and gels as you wish. No right answer frankly.
  • WindyG
    WindyG Posts: 1,099
    As above just ride more, you will soon learn what is best food and drink wise both before and during riding. Just keep pushing that little extra. Also make sure you eat and drink before fatigue sets in don't leave it until you are burnt out as by then anything you do have will take too long to have any effect and you are more likely to give up then.
  • The route that we rode the last couple of weeks is a really good route because it has a bit of everything really. Its got the quick flat bits, and some right killer hills. The first time out i walked one of the really long hills (well, most of it) and this time i was determined to go all the way to the top without stopping and i did it. I really felt the difference after that. That was the point of the ride where i was starting to feel a little shattered and my thighs were burning.

    I was thinking maybe i could time myself doing different parts of the ride when/if i ride alone. I dont think i would be riding alone, except when theres some sort of school holiday. I could time myself doing a hill, and try and improve on that time on a different day. Or i could time myself doing a short bit of singletrack. And on another day i could time myself doing several different trails back to back without stopping then time myself doing it again on a different day. I think that sounds like a decent way to get fitter and faster, and improve my stamina.

    I think having a lucozade helped me believe it or not. I had most of it just before i started my ride and i didnt feel as tired when i finished. The 2nd time out i took only water and i was alot more tired at the end, but that could also be because i was trying alot harder the 2nd time out. At one point i was pushing myself too much trying to get through a muddy trail and i got a bit of cramp in my thigh and had to stop for a few minutes.
  • njee20
    njee20 Posts: 9,613
    Lucozade is just sugar, so stands to reason it helped.

    Be wary of timing yourself, a) there are loads of outside factors which can affect it, particularly off road, and b) faster and more stamina are not the same. Traditionally one does lots of steady rides (as suggested previously) to develop a good base, then you do lots of short sharp stuff on top of that to develop speed.

    Honestly, stop over thinking it, just ride.
  • Yeah, trail conditions and everything else.

    Maybe i am over thinking a bit.
  • kajjal
    kajjal Posts: 3,380
    Couple of things that helped me riding XC for several hours at time in the wilds. I found museli bars were best for keeping energy levels up, not keen on loads of sugar and chemicals. As mentioned before you need to ride at a level you can recover from, go above this level and you will struggle round unable to recover. Best example of this was my mate who had only been off road on flat local trails. Took him off road properly and even after repeated warnings he tried to power his way up a mile long steep technical climb in a high gear. Exploded after 100m and pushed his bike up.

    Riding with better / faster riders also helps. In my twenties I was fast / fit compared to most people. Went out with a couple of riders that competed at national level. On the flat I was killing myself to keep up with them. On the first real hill they completely killed me. The upside was I knew I could go faster and push harder. Now I am too old for to care ;)
  • Thanks!

    Im just going to experiment with different food and drinks and see how it goes. I know what you mean about the getting off and walking bit. Well i didnt get off and walk when i made the mistake of trying to take the long hill on really quick. I like to stand up and pedal until you get tired, then still standing up just take a few seconds to let the bike roll then carry on pedalling, stand up again so forth. I learnt my lesson last time out when i tried getting to the top of the hill quickly :lol:
  • kajjal
    kajjal Posts: 3,380
    :)

    Keep at you'll really get into some tough , challenging trails when your skills and fitness improve. We have been stampeded by cows, sheep, had an altercation with a massive , muscular bull who decided we were not allowed on his bridleway and made the mistake of parking the car at the top of a long steep hill which we had to climb on the way back when we were shattered, a lot of swearing about that on the way up :)
  • Haha :D Well thats an awesome training technique. Get chased by a massive bull!

    The trails i ride arent challenging mostly, but there are some challenging bits if you are determined to take them fast. Im just waiting until the summer when all the trails get all dried up. Thats around 6 months away :( Then i can properly enjoy the trails. At the moment speed is not the best idea as the trails are very very muddy. So in those 6 months i want to get as fit as possible, and possibly do a bit of saving up. Then when it gets to summer i could have a few upgrades and be fit enough to go blast around the trails every day of my summer holiday 8)
  • njee20
    njee20 Posts: 9,613
    Out of the saddle is not an efficient way to climb, fast yes (although not the way you're doing it by the sounds of it). Learn to climb at a steady pace, you'll go faster and not tire as quickly.
  • That method i mentioned was more of a "Well, im knackered from trying to go up it quickly, so ill just do this now" sort of method. Usually i just try and maintain a rhythm to the top as you mentioned. And if its a really long hill i stop before the start to raise my seat up more.
  • njee20
    njee20 Posts: 9,613
    Why isn't your saddle at the right height anyway? Drop it for descents yes by all means, but why wouldn't you have it at the right height otherwise?
  • gt-arrowhead
    gt-arrowhead Posts: 2,507
    Sorry for the late reply.

    I just prefer it as its easier to move on the bike. Its about an inch below the correct height.
  • ollie51
    ollie51 Posts: 517
    It's to do with conditioning your heart, and keeping your riding within threshold limits - i.e. training your heart to work better at lower intensity, which then allows you to spend a greater % of your time at the lower rate for a given pace. This in turn extends the distances you can ride when going at your best pace.

    I know getting off and pushing sounds counter intuitive, but it's really about "training" rather than just doing exercise. Essentially what you are doing is building a strong Aerobic base fitness by doing this, this makes you more efficient overall, yes hills might still kill your legs, but you'll be cruising on the flat quicker than before using less energy/strength, leaving it for the important bits. It is also worth noting, that when you are knackered, it becomes harder to get your heart rate up, and therefore you rely more on your heart's ability at lower heart rates (noticed this when I did LEjog in 10 days - the last few days I ddin't get above mid point zone 4, whereas the first few days there were plenty of hills that got be up into the high zone 5s)

    You won't see imediate effects, but if you persist once a week doing this kind of long, low intensity ride once a week for a period of a month, the benefit will be noticeable and measureable.

    Using this method, got me to the point that 10 hours of riding is not a problem for me provided I eat & drink enoough.

    It is counter intuitive, in fact it's about as logical as rearranging the chairs on the titanic.

    Think about what training is - it's pushing your body beyond its current limit to induce adaptations, i.e. hurting yourself to get faster. That is a fundamental, therefore why would you make it easier, particularly given the fact that more stressful efforts are proven to offer greater aerobic development, there are countless studies on this. If you are training to perform better on terrain that hills, you must train on those hills. By walking on those hills, you reduce the training stress, you therefore also reduce the adaptations. Quality threshold and sweetspot intervals will offer a far greater gain in your ability to sustain a given output for longer than going on LSD training rides where you get off and push where it gets hard.
  • ednino
    ednino Posts: 684
    Sorry for the late reply.

    I just prefer it as its easier to move on the bike. Its about an inch below the correct height.

    Silly

    Put it up to full correct height
  • gt-arrowhead
    gt-arrowhead Posts: 2,507
    ednino wrote:
    Sorry for the late reply.

    I just prefer it as its easier to move on the bike. Its about an inch below the correct height.

    Silly

    Put it up to full correct height

    Why is it silly if i prefer it?
  • ednino
    ednino Posts: 684
    Because its less effifient and you are a) losing power b) risking injurys / joint problems

    If you want to do 4 hour rides well, you'll do it alot better with the saddle at the correct height
  • kajjal
    kajjal Posts: 3,380
    ednino wrote:
    Because its less effifient and you are a) losing power b) risking injurys / joint problems

    If you want to do 4 hour rides well, you'll do it alot better with the saddle at the correct height

    This is very true. It is better to learn how to ride for hours XC with a saddle at the proper height as it reduces injury and improves power. If you want to drop your saddle for a big drop or technical section then that can make sense especially if you haven't been down it before.
  • Ouija
    Ouija Posts: 1,386
    I just assumed he was a midget.........




    But yeah, can't put any real power down if your pedalling around with your legs bent (especially if you've got the seat low enough to put your feet on the ground while sitting as all the hoody's seem to do). But worst of all, your going to have some serious knee problems a few years down the line.
  • Stevo_666
    Stevo_666 Posts: 58,406
    Road riding helped my MTB stamina quite a bit. Good excuse for n+1 as well if you have the opportunity to to roadie/commuting type riding.
    "I spent most of my money on birds, booze and fast cars: the rest of it I just squandered." [George Best]
  • gt-arrowhead
    gt-arrowhead Posts: 2,507
    Im 5 foot 7 I am a midget

    Im going to try out having it the correct height next time out and see how i get on. I was warned that i will end up having knee problems if i didnt have it high enough. I was also warned that once i get to a certain age i wouldnt be able to ride with the front of the saddle slightly pointing up. (Ouija knows about that). I played around with the saddle yesterday after giving my bike a clean and a once over to see if all was good. I decided that i now prefer to have the saddle straight rather than having the nose pointing up :) I also pushed it a bit further forward (still within the markings on the rails) and ive got it spot on now i think.

    The hoody way is like this. I got it bang on.
    IMAG0032_zps4dfbfeb4.jpg

    No brakes or gears, cos thats the bad man way.
    Low seat cos man is a gangsta blud.
    Dench fork because it looks sick cuzz.
  • Ouija
    Ouija Posts: 1,386
    I know about the knee problems. Had it for quite a while before i started setting my seat higher and higher. But you have to watch out that you don't set it too high either. You shouldn't be on your tiptoes when your legs fully extended or having to sway slightly to the right and left when pressing down on each pedal (overstretching). I made that mistake after setting my seat too high for a few years because of the extra power it gave and then woke up one morning paralyzed from the waist down. The combination of overstretching and a seat that was tilted a little back and too far from the stem had forced me to trap a nerve in my lower spine, causing temporary paralysis (two days and a couple of weeks off work).

    So i dropped the post a bit, moved the saddle forwards and got a shorter stem on my main bike as well as adjusting the seat angle so that my hips wanted to rotate a bit further forwards. Never had any problems since. If your knees ache after a ride. Or your back and the balls of your feet, then you need to rethink your setup.
  • gt-arrowhead
    gt-arrowhead Posts: 2,507
    I like to have my foot flat on the pedal for the whole stroke, so i never take my seat that high, so i never have it that high. Must have been scary waking up and being paralyzed.
  • njee20
    njee20 Posts: 9,613
    That's correct - you should never be reaching to the pedals - if your hips are rocking then it's too high. The heel of foot on the pedal at the bottom of the stroke is a good test as a benchmark, particularly if you use flat pedals, less relevant with SPDs.