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MTB coaching day recap, May 2015

Here is our MTB coaching day recap. The race season is heating up and it was a banner day with MTB questions coming in fast. The original discussion on our LW Coaching Facebook page is here. Like our LW Coaching FB page and join in our open MTB coaching day in June. We host it during the first week of every month.

Upload an action shot of yourself riding to our Athletes in Action Gallery to be our featured athlete of a future open MTB coaching day. Big thanks to single-speed ripper Heidi Volpe for this months featured shot from Mammoth Mountain, CA.

MTB coaching day recap


Sara Bryanton: Hey from PEI canada! I’ve used crossfit as a way to get in shape for cycling but it doesn’t do much for my endurance. I’m getting back into racing after being off for a few years. Ride a singlespeed. How should I work on endurance? I have a road bike too.

Coach Lynda: Sara, Follow our Single-speed MTB training plans!


Bruce Brown: Hi Lynda. Thanks for the open coaching days you do here. Last week was my week 12 of your base training plan for XC Masters 40+. I also did my first race on Sunday, instead of the scheduled Power and HR TT Test on Saturday. I am assuming I can use the data from my race to calculate training zones going forward into your 12 week build, peak, race for XC Masters program. Question: which metric do I use from the race data? I was on the bike racing for 1:22 and change so I have the peak 20 minute, 30 minute, and 60 minute to choose between. Actually, there is not much difference in HR or Watts in all three of those metrics with HR ranging from 166 in the 60 minute to 170 for the 20 minute reading (and an average of 165 for the entire race). Thanks in advance.

Coach Lynda: Bruce, sorry you cannot use race data to set training zones. HR’s are always higher in a race situation and if used as the benchmark for training zones will lead to over-training. What was your recent peak 20 min training HR compared to this peak 20 min race HR?

Bruce Brown: Lynda, the most recent was 164 for the last 20 minute test I did.

Coach Lynda: Bruce, keep 164 bpm as your LTHR and training zones benchmark. You were close to that in the race. Looks good. Racing usually is 5 bpm over zones due to all the extra motivation and adrenaline on-board.

Bruce Brown: Sounds good, Lynda. Thanks. Jet lag and reality kept my motivation and adrenaline in check for the most part (after the opening 10 minutes).


Tom Stringer: No question, just thanks! Your recent Mountain bike radio series on intervals was awesome and answered all my training inquires.

Coach Lynda: Tom, thanks for the nice words – appreciated!


Kristina Kittelson: When training for a mountain bike race, is there an advantage or disadvantage to doing a few weekday training rides on a road bike instead of mountain bike? My assumption is as long as you hit the heart rate or power targets, it shouldn’t matter.
Coach Lynda: Kristina, ride duration and intensity are the priorities. Ride the bike you are enjoying the most and which fits the terrain you have available.

Coach Lynda: We talk about road vs MTB training in show #1 of my Intervals for Mountain Bikers – Series on Mountain Bike Radio

Kristina Kittelson: Thanks!


Brad Jerris: I feel as if I’m like many other master athletes in that we don’t really have the steady schedule or inclination to follow a structured plan as we should. However, I do train regularly and try to structure workouts on the fly. The training goal is to have the ability to share the work on a hard long weekend road ride or jump into a moderate length mountain bike race. What is one key structured in season workout we should do? Thanks for the many years of help.

Coach Lynda: Brad, Ha, ha you just described me! For a single session that gives you a big bang for your training time and covers all the goals you have, the best training ride is that weekly club ride that turns into the local “world champs” every week. Not precisely structured but the intensity and variety of it will cover multiple physiological systems and abilities which is what you are looking to get out of the single session.

Tough to pick a single session that does more than the weekly hammer group ride but a 6 x 6 min (3 min recovery) at zone 4 would probably be my top pick.


Ashley Roche: Hi Linda, I heard your recent show on mtb radio relating to masters athletes needing to do more high intensity training. Would you suggest modifying your 24 hour plan for a 40 year old considering doing his first event. Would it simply be more rest weeks or other modifications? Thanks.

Coach Lynda: Ashley, you are good to go with the 24 hour PR plan. There is plenty of intensity in that plan. If you find yourself not recovering between rides, do add more recovery into your routine.


Luke Hurley: Hi Lynda, I have had three races so far and the overall thing I’ve noticed is the lack of sustained high speed endurance for 1.5-2.0 hour races. for the New England Cat 1 races in the 40-49 group, they tend to be the fastest, behind the pro-open class and sticking with the leaders for the whole race tends to dwindle near the last 1-2 laps of a 4-5 lap race. I did al of the base as best I could in the basement this winter in NH. We had a long winter and riding outside on clear roads or trails didn’t happen till mid-March. Any thoughts on what I might be able to do to get that muscular endurance up for a longer period of time? Thanks.

Coach Lynda: Luke, are you on a training plan right now? Are your races spread far enough apart to fit any training in or are you now on a race and rest schedule?

Luke Hurley: Yes, sorry, I am in week 11 of your Masters Cat 1 build/peak/race plan. I’m on race/rest I guess. Races booked every Sunday through the northeast till the end of September.

Coach Lynda: Luke, first of all it might well be a fueling and hydration issue. That one is a quick and easy fix – eat and drink more during your races. The other most likely culprit for a late race fade is starting with fatigue. With a race and rest schedule from here on out to the end of September, you will get faster and stronger in the late race segments by stepping up your recovery techniques and hitting each start line fresh, than seeking to add more training into your plan. Read our Tools to Speed Recovery article to see what you can improve.


Molly Jean Thompson: I’m doing the 6 Hour PR plan right now and I have been enjoying that, but one thing I know I need to work on is mental toughness. On Sunday, I was 3.5 hours into my 5 hour ride and I just had to stop and sit on the side of the trail. I was in my head talking negatively to myself; I wanted to quit. I finally got it together and finished all 5 hours of the ride, but I was in a dark place for several minutes.
In CX or XC races, I always tell myself not to line up near the front because I’m too slow and I don’t want to get in anyone’s way or I don’t have the legs to hang with that group or close that gap.
I guess I don’t have the confidence to handle those situations, but deep down I know that I’ve done the training and I’m stronger than that, but I guess I psych myself out. Are there any strategies you suggest for dealing with that, particularly when things get tough in endurance races?

Coach Lynda: Molly, Caffeine can help boost confidence and ego in shorter races at the start and at the halfway point in longer races. Music that gets you pumped (I like Pink and her rocking girl power lyrics for this) can get you fired up too.

Another strategy is to give yourself one goal or task for each race. Write it down, commit to it and do it. This might be to line up at the front for example.
Check out Carrie Cheadle’s Mental Skills Training for Athletes page. She has many words of wisdom to boost ego and confidence.

Self-talk is directly linked to blood sugar level. Low blood sugar > negative self-talk. This is a really useful warning sign to help with fueling in long races. When your self-talk gets negative, slow down a little and take in more fuel. I guarantee you will rebound in less than 5 mins and be flying. Turn on the music (if allowed) and add a little caffeine and you will be unstoppable. Negative self-talk is your low fuel gauge light in long races and you are lucky to have one – so use it!!

Molly Jean Thompson: Can I ask two questions in one day? I am planning to race a six hour lap race in July that starts at 8pm and ends at 2am. Obviously,
I need to train using lights and to adjust to the time. My question is do I do this on my long Sunday rides or on the other mountain rides during the week? I’m following the 6 hour PR plan.
And how many of these training rides should I put in before that race? Any other suggestions for riding that late/early?

Coach Lynda: Molly, train with lights on a few of your long rides on the weekend. Best option is to start your ride in the daylight, ride through sunset and twilight and into the dark for an hour or more. Don’t ride until 2 am in training. That will just make you sleep deprived and isn’t good training. On race day it will be easy to stay up until 2am because of the race excitement – you can’t replicate that in training. How many times to do this depends on how comfortable you are with your light set-up and with riding in the dark. I recommend a minimum of once and no maximum times. Some athletes love riding in the dark.


Christina Probert Turner: Hey Coach Lynda Wallenfels; I just finished up base training and raced a bit, Keyesville Classic, Bonelli and the Sea Otter Classic. I am looking forward to the Cat 1 Build, Peak and race plan now for some speed…My question is, I still need some endurance in the bank for cx season. Can I add time to this plan on the weekends to keep up the endurance? Thx

Coach Lynda: Christina, yes, absolutely so long as you are honest with your recovery status. If you are able to add time on the weekends and still hit the quality interval sessions fresh you are good. If you are getting fatigued and performance is sliding with accumulated fatigue, cut off the extras ASAP.
Christina Probert Turner: Thx


Jen Judge: Hi lynda, i was wondering about workout order. For instance, if you have a 3×20 L4 session, then the next day you’re supposed to do a 45min L3, do you get the same benefit if you switch them around? Or another example would be the Saturday – Sunday workouts?

Coach Lynda: Jen, the workouts are designed in the optimal order. Doing them as scheduled will result in optimal performance benefits. It is tough to pull off a 3 x 20 at L4 the day after a 45 min L3 but not vice versa. In general the higher intensity session comes first and the lower one second for the best quality training.
Jen Judge: Thanks. That’s what I thought, but sometimes scheduling interferes with workouts and I have to switch thing around.


Chris White: Two years ago I worked up to eventually completing my first hundie (wilderness 101 on a single-speed). Unfortunately last year a nasty lung issue sidelined me for almost half the year and I lost so much fitness. I’m square on all the nutrition and mental aspects of endurance mtb as well as body position etc to head off fatigue, but right now the power is just not there. Do I have to treat this year as a complete do-over, or is there a different method that I can jump-start my legs? The big trick is a child in daycare wipes out the after work rides I used to do. I have to rely even more on cross-training. I probably have time for 1 long ride and 2 short ones per week, assuming I can get out on both Sat and Sun. The ultimate goal is to complete 4 NUE events in 2016 to get the official series completion status.

Coach Lynda: Chris, wow you have had and do have some challenges. I would not consider a complete do-over year but your parameters have changed since before so you need to redesign everything, including your goals and focus. Focus on health, joy and consistency and allow your body the time to come back on form that it needs given your training limitations. Be patient as there is no magic jump-start. Performance is earned with consistency in bike training.

Chris White: Thanks. Yeah, last year was a tough one.


Patrick Crawford: Hi Lynda. We’ve had some unusually rainy weather here in Colorado, so I’m doing more workouts indoors than usual. I train with HR and don’t have a power meter, unfortunately. Achieving the same target heart rate zone indoors feels like a much harder perceived effort than outdoors. Do you think there’s truth to that? It makes me wonder: if I had a power meter, would I find that I’m riding in higher zones than I’m targeting…

Coach Lynda: Patrick, yes. Do an indoor HR test and set different indoor training zones.


Erica Tingey: Hi Lynda! I just had a blood panel done and discovered my testosterone is a 7. The range is 6-70. Since I am in the testing pool for USADA my choices for treating this are limited and need to be cautious. What are your suggestions for boosting testosterone?

Coach Lynda: Erica, aim to correct your testosterone initially with natural methods. Avoid long endurance rides, focus on short high intensity, keep your protein intake up, lift weights, do plyometrics, sleep lots. Most of all is to get your stress levels down. Stress is a testosterone killer. That one is the most important. If you are living for an extended period of time with high stress it will run you down.

Erica Tingey: What would you consider long endurance rides? Anything over 2:30? Also, do I need to keep weekly volume in mind?
Erica Tingey: Great ideas, thank you. I started lifting again, increased protein and made sure that protein is hormone free. The sleep and stress are the more challenging ones for me. I will work on those even more now.

Coach Lynda: Limit rides to 1.5 hours.


Mark T Snidero: Hi Lynda. I have a 24 hr mtb race in October. I’ll start the 24hr PB plan 12 weeks prior. The 12mile loop has a 2.9mile 1300 foot, 8.3% avg climb to start each lap. How should I adjust training to insure I can handle this climbing each lap? Also, I don’t have any hill like this around here. I have to travel a couple hours to find one. Thanks!

Coach Lynda: Mark, travel to the hills and put them in your long rides at the weekends.


Cynthia Graham-Taff: Good morning Lynda. My question has to do with nutrition during 5 hour+ races. At what point does one add protein and/or real food. Or, is something like carborocket 333 sufficient. I have had issues with gastric upset with a variety of solid foods during long hard race efforts. Fueled entirely with Carborocket during PCP2P last year and finished respectably. Thanks!

Coach Lynda: Cynthia Graham-Taff, a happy stomach and calories being processed takes priority over everything. Keep using what works for you. CarboRocket 333 does not have protein in its formula on the label but that is a little misleading as it does have 4500mg of Branched Chain Amino Acids and L-Glutamine per serving which are the building blocks to protein – thus do not show on the label as protein. These are already broken down into the form our bodies use. CR333 only is perfect fuel for P2P for you.


Rachel Vest Woolf: Hi. I often seem to get a “second wind” or extra energy on hour two of my training rides. Seems like I’m not really warming up until an hour in, and that doesn’t do me much good when my races will only be one to two hours (racing XC). So I’m wondering if you have some kind of recommendations on better warm-up routines, maybe throw in some intervals or something? Thanks.

Coach Lynda: Rachel, What are you doing right now for a warm-up routine?

Rachel Vest Woolf: I haven’t raced yet this year and last year I only did 2 and kind of just putz around the parking lot for 10min, which I know wasn’t “right”.

Coach Lynda: Rachel, here is a warm up I have many athletes do before races: 5-10 mins of easy power L1/HRZ1 spinning, 5 mins of power L2/HRZ2, 5 mins of power L3/HRZ3, 5 mins of power L1-2, 1 x 1 min power L4, 3 mins power L1/HRZ1, 1 x 1 min power L5, 1 min power L1/HRZ1. Then finish the ride time in power L1-2/HRZ1-2. Pace the 1 min L4 and L5 by PE if you do not have a power meter on your bike today.

Rachel Vest Woolf: That looks great. Thanks.


Chris Bailey: Hi Lynda, unfortunately I was involved in a crash when racing a couple of weeks ago and this resulted in me having some stitches in my knee. I therefore couldn’t ride my bike for 2 weeks. My target Xc race was this Sunday but I realise that’s out of the question. The XC races I would like to peak for now are on 21st June and 23rd Aug. I feel in good condition even with two weeks off but I’m wondering where I should start back in the training plan. I am using the cat1 xc build TP. Thanks in advance.

Coach Lynda: Chris, can you race this Sunday? Are you still off the bike today?

Chris Bailey: Yes I’m going to race on Sunday but I’m not hoping for a great result. My first ride back was on Monday and the first intense session was today and my knee is fine.

Coach Lynda: Chris, if you have only been off your bike for 2 weeks you will still have a great deal of fitness you put in the bank with the months of training prior to your injury. With the freshness earned during this 2 weeks off I think you will be really surprised at how well you are able to perform this weekend. Go into this weekend with good preparation and focus and give yourself the opportunity to excel. Don’t write this weekend off – it could be a breakthrough performance for you! Stay on target, focus on this weekend and reset your goals next week.


Jill Wiest: I’m training for my first 100 mile, rocky, mountain bike race with approx 10,000 feet of climbing on July 25. Two questions: the plan lists 2.5 “trail” hours on Saturday and 4.5 “trail” hours on Sunday. How critical is the total 7 hours for the two days and can a gravel grinder (with climbing) work for “trail.” I’m 55, so I get pretty tired with all those back-to-back weekend hours and the race is 35% single-track and 65% fireroad/doubletrack, so can I train on that type of mix (as opposed to all “trail”)? Thanks much.

Coach Lynda: Jill, Which plan are you following?

Jill Wiest: I’m sort of following the Masters 40+ 100 mile personal record Lynda. I’m on a retiree budget, so I studied your free preview first two weeks and incorporated another 100 mile mountain training plan into it which is similar in hours.

Coach Lynda: Jill Wiest, who designed the plan you are asking the original question about? IDK the plan so need more info to give you a valid answer.

Jill Wiest: It’s a Chris Eatough plan specifically for 100 milers

Coach Lynda:  Obviously I cannot comment on a plan you purchased from another coach. I recommend seeking advice on that specific plan from the author.

Jill Wiest: The original question was based on your free week two Masters 100 mile personal record plan (2.50 hrs on Sat, 4.50 hrs on Sunday). But it’s a general question about the trail vs fire road and also the back to back hours on a weekend.

Coach Lynda: Jill, always cut back on the training and add more recovery time if you are not recovering between workouts. A gravel grinder or road ride can always be substituted for trail. Doing your long rides on a course than represents your goal race is a great plan.


Andrea Blaseckie: Hi Lynda, I currently have an injury (hamstring tendon and muscle). I’m in week 2 of recovery under the guidance of my physio. I’ve got a mtb endurance race planned for June 13th and a major mtb trip planned for end of July. I’m 42 years old. I’m still pretty new to mountain biking (1 1/2 year), but have been racing/riding road for a long time. Would your 40+ MTB base training plan be a good training plan for me? Physio says I can start riding 100% about 3-4 weeks from now, but can’t race to win on June 13th. I’m wondering if the timing of the training plan will work out ok with the timing of the June race and the mtb trip. Trip is 3 weeks. Riding at least 5x week with some really strong riders.

Coach Lynda: Andrea, How long is your endurance race?

Andrea Blaseckie: 4 hours maximum. It’s a 12 hour race but I’m on a team.

Coach Lynda: Today is May 6th so 3-4 weeks off the bike puts you at starting on a training plan on June 1st only giving you 13 training days to your endurance race. The 40+ base plan is a 12 week plan so that doesn’t fit your timing. It does fit the timing for your mtb trip planned for end of July.

Andrea Blaseckie: Thanks Lynda. I’m going to get the training plan so i’m better condition for the mtb trip!


Rich Sworks Blair: What are your thoughts on metabolic testing and actual vo2 max testing , power testing vs a 20 MIN TT for power testing

Coach Lynda: a single test gives you a snapshot of where you are at. Testing is most valuable when repeated over time to view your progress (or not) and stimulate training changes to keep you on track. The value in a 20 min self-administered test is that you control most of the variables and can schedule one at any time. Actual metabolic and VO2max testing is most often too cost prohibitive to execute frequently enough. Also, most athletes produce different training zones outside vs indoors. The difference is enough that I do not recommend using indoor testing to establish HR or power zones for outdoor training. Test in the environment you will be training in. The summary is that I prefer consistent self-administered outdoor testing for mountain bike racers.


Luis Rosa Colon: Hello, I was really involved into running and XT in my bike at least twice a week until last Sunday I completed a Half Marathon race. Now I want to focus on MTB racing my first race will be next 24th of May you think the condition I gained during my running training will help me in my next biking goals? Racing Expert 40+

Coach Lynda: Luis Rosa Colon, definitely. Your run fitness will carry over, especially on the uphills.


Ben Parman: Lynda, I’m following your 100mi PR plan (currently in week 8) to peak for my first 100mi race of the season on June 6. On May 24 I’ll be racing the Gunnison Growler (~65mi) which falls on the last day of Week 10 in the plan. While this race would fit nicely into my prescribed training (6hrs for that day to finish off a 20hr week), I would like to perform at a higher level than I think I would be able to if I do not taper a bit that week. I am considering jumping ahead to Week 10 now, which would put the Growler at the end of Week 12. Then I would repeat weeks 11 and 12 leading up to my next race on June 6. Does this sound like a reasonable modification to my plan, or would you recommend doing something differently?

Coach Lynda: Ben, I recommend you finish out week #8 then jump to week # 11. Follow week #12 for Growler then repeat weeks 11 and 12 leading up to your race on June 6.

Ben Parman: Thanks, Lynda!


Taylor Webb: Hi Linda I have a 100 mile mtn bike race on June 28th. I am just coming off a rest week. I am wondering how I should lay out my up coming weeks. 2 taper weeks and a race week? Throw another rest week in? Thanks!

Coach Lynda: Taylor, Taylor, you have 7.5 weeks until your race on June 28th. Are you currently following a training plan? Which one? What to do depends on what you have been doing.


Coach Lynda: That is a wrap on this edition of open MTB coaching day. Thanks everyone for joining in. I enjoy the opportunity to connect with everybody. We will be back again the first week in June.

Taylor Webb: Thanks for doing this.


By Lynda Wallenfels Google+

MTB coaching day recap, May 2015 was last modified: May 10th, 2015 by Lynda