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PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2011 6:12 am 
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Hi all, I have a question regarding training for a specific type of race and would be interested in hearing other peoples views and opinions. What would be the best way to approach training for a xc mtb marathon race i.e. 60-100miles? Which energy systems would you specifically target to meet the dynamics of a race like this? Setting individual limiters aside I am curious to hear someone else’s take is on this.


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Posted: Sat Oct 29, 2011 6:12 am 


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2011 6:49 am 
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Location: North Adelaide, South Australia
Aside fron not knowing how long you have got, if I was doing this race I would do 3 months of specific training of during repeated intervals for 5-6 hours on the road to replicate the high intensity periods of the race. Would also look at during at least two long E1 road rides weekly to obtain a strong endurance base. After your comfortable with the distance, it's time to hit more specific mtb training rides where you replicate the same distance, or close to. This is really important as psychologically you don't wan't to go into the race having never spent 6 plus hours in a mtb race. Doing the actual race is very different from doing the same distance in training sessions.

As far as nutrition goes, gels are obvious but will destroy your stomach if you only eat them. Most races like this have several feed stations where you can strategically place food that you will need at certain stages. i.e. after about 4 hours you need to top up on carbs (which gels don't have much of). To help your stomach out, try also using a solute glucose solution that you can get at most pharmacists for people with really low blood sugar levels. It's way cheaper than 'cycling specific' equivalents and does the same job.

As far as equipment goes, this is where FS makes a difference in ride comfort that translates into feeling fresher as opposed to riding HT's. Take spares of everything that's likely to break. ie. RD hangers, spoke wrench, cleat bolts, patches and tubes, co2 canisters etc. Some people change shorts halfway through, I don't see the point personally, just use the likes of Assos and your all good.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2011 7:49 am 
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Thanks for the reply, sorry, I should have mentioned in my first post, I already regularly ride xc mtb and have for several years, racing mtb marathons for the last few years. I have my nutrition and equipment pretty well sorted. I like to look at my training program at the start of a new “training” year and see were I can make changes and look towards improving. I am interested in hearing different views on the type of specific training that relates to marathon xc racing, and how other people would approach it, just curious really to see how they compare to my own beliefs and understandings of the science.

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"I can accept failure. Everyone fails at something. But I can't accept not trying."
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2011 9:41 am 
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"It's an aerobic sport, dammit!" :D

The particular nuances to xc mtb, even in marathon distance, still make this a "simple" premise. A high watt/kg is going to be your friend.

Now with mtb as you know sometimes the manner in which the power is delivered is highly variable. Even in a dead-flat TT there will be peaks and troughs and spikes all over. Mtb is even more exaggerated.

So what does this mean for your training?

In short you need a massive (FTP) engine being able to deliver and withstand repeated supra-threshold efforts over a long period. Some people may fall into the trap of trying to improve say, their 30sec power. Whilst in mtb there are repeated anaerobic range efforts the higher your lactate threshold the less you have to "dip into" this energy system and will also mean better recovery. That is not to say you don't do 30sec efforts, rather they would be well below your 30sec max and would be repeated many times.

The principles of specificity reign and with a discipline like mtb this is particularly true due to the larger skill component and the fatigue experienced by the rest of the body which would be not as notable in road racing/TT etc.

So unsurprisingly most of the work should be done on mtb on terrain which tests your skills. I am also in favour of doing longer sustained efforts as you would for road racing. That being said if you can do said sustained efforts on the mtb (long dirt roads?) even better. (I for one quite like using the mtb on normal roads and occasionally cutting into some single track/dirt.)

If actually getting out on the mtb is an issue then there are no great issues with doing the bulk of the training on the road bike. However due to the aforementioned fatigue on the rest of the body this is perhaps one of the rare occasions I would advocate maybe doing some exercises beyond just cycling (namely pushups, pull ups, planks and isometric holds). If you're doing any sort of decent rides on the mtb this will be unnecessary.

So a sample week may look something like this (depending on time available):-


Day 1: 3hr+ Steady state ride (zone 2)
Day 2: 2hr mtb single track (5x climb/descend sections)
Day 3: 1.5hr road bike with 8x 30sec effort/30 sec recovery, 30mins recovery, repeat efforts.
Day 4: 2hr mtb single track.
Day 5: 1 hr mtb very hard effort, recovery, skill session.
Day 6: 3hr easy ride + 2-3 hard climbs (20mins in duration).
Rest.


That is just an example of a week I've done in the past. Another consideration, especially if the weather is foul, is doing "micro-intervals" on the trainer. The way these can be composed are legion but things like [5sec On, 5 sec OFF], [8sec ON, 12 sec OFF] etc. The manner in which these intervals are done is that say your 10min power is 300watts then doing 10mins of these intervals should give you an average of 300 watts.

Hope that helps some.

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"Physiology is all just propaganda and lies... all waiting to be disproven by the next study."
"I'm not a real doctor; But I am a real worm; I am an actual worm." - TMBG


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2011 10:40 am 
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Location: North Adelaide, South Australia
Tapeworm wrote:
Day 1: 3hr+ Steady state ride (zone 2)
Day 2: 2hr mtb single track (5x climb/descend sections)
Day 3: 1.5hr road bike with 8x 30sec effort/30 sec recovery, 30mins recovery, repeat efforts.
Day 4: 2hr mtb single track.
Day 5: 1 hr mtb very hard effort, recovery, skill session.
Day 6: 3hr easy ride + 2-3 hard climbs (20mins in duration).
Rest.


Very detailed, useful advice Tapeworm :thumbup:

Only think I would disagree with is that marathons generally have a very low technical skill rating as they seem to mostly compose of fireroad/ 4WD tracks. So unless your regularly competing in XCO races, working on technical skills is not un-valuable, but is perhaps not the most efficient use of time.

A question on your sample week program, on Day1, my understanding of the terminology of Zones was that it referred specifically to heart rate as you have not mentioned wattage. Hence are you really suggesting a 3hr ride at 65-85% (zone 2) of max HR?

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2011 4:37 pm 
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Thanks for the replies, some very useful & interesting information which confirms a few things for me. During my build & peak periods I tend to concentrate a lot on threshold work i.e. 2x20 type sessions and long over/under threshold intervals i.e. 2mins at 93-100% of LTHR then 2mins over at 100-102%, continue for 12mins, short zone 3 rest interval then repeat x3-4. Also some long hill climbs on the road, 15-20min x3, cadence 50-70rpm. Usually I can get in one long 4-6hrs mtb ride and some shorter zone 3 tempo rides.

During the winter/bad weather I'm limited to the road or trainer indoors :cry:

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"I can accept failure. Everyone fails at something. But I can't accept not trying."
Michael Jordan


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2011 5:05 am 
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Asymptotic wrote:
Only think I would disagree with is that marathons generally have a very low technical skill rating as they seem to mostly compose of fireroad/ 4WD tracks. So unless your regularly competing in XCO races, working on technical skills is not un-valuable, but is perhaps not the most efficient use of time.


Quite likely, though I have a slight bias, being on the east coast there are some very technical courses with heaps of single track out here (some courses up to 30% single track), and I haven't had much exposure to other marathon races. So for the majority of cases you're probably right, "brute" fitness is still a winner. Perhaps its also the fact that my technical skills still suck so after a ride I do like to practice balance, hops, jumps, climbing obstacles etc. Down hill runs at speed still give me the willies!

Another caveat to the technical skills would be 24hr multi-lap races. Some of those are closer to 70% single track or more.

Quote:
A question on your sample week program, on Day1, my understanding of the terminology of Zones was that it referred specifically to heart rate as you have not mentioned wattage. Hence are you really suggesting a 3hr ride at 65-85% (zone 2) of max HR?


Yes. In short, but I am "power based" so the power band is 55-75% of FTP (and as you stated 65% 85% of HR)... which really ain't much. Very doable. Actually I did it today, 3hr27mins, NP power 152 (68% OF FTP), HR 133 (73% of max). Keeping in mind that with any training programme it is descriptive (of what would be ideal), not prescriptive.

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"Physiology is all just propaganda and lies... all waiting to be disproven by the next study."
"I'm not a real doctor; But I am a real worm; I am an actual worm." - TMBG


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Posted: Sun Oct 30, 2011 5:05 am 


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