Thanks everybody for tuning in to our December and January MTB open coaching days and posting questions. I love to hear from everybody and stay in the loop on what athletes need to know. We host open coaching day on the first Thursday of every month. We’ll be back on Thurs Feb 4th at our LW Coaching Facebook page with our next edition. Like our page, share our post and ask your MTB training and racing questions.
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Here is the MTB open coaching day recap for Dec 2015 and Jan 2016
Cindy Copley: Sweet! Lynda, first off, thank you for your time.
I’ve been racing for 8 years (XC, marathon, NUE, cross and last season my first 24 solo). This year I am looking to go big with Transylvania Epic/TSE stage race (5 days) of mountain biking, then a 24 hour followed by at least 2 NUE’s. I am looking to see what plan would benefit me. I live in NEPA and ride a lot of dirt roads through the winter, run, fat bike, snowshoe & would like to continue strength training and lead up to TSE (end of May). I’ve always received guidance from a friend/pro mtber, but she is not familiar with stage racing prep.
Coach Lynda: Cindy, that is a big year you have planned! With a little more info I’ll recommend the best plan for you. What is your age? Are you racing single-speed or gears?
Cindy Copley: I’m 34 I weigh 123 & eat healthy-ish. Racing gears. I am aiming high this year. I might end up only doing one NUE, but we’ll see how the summer unfolds.
Coach Lynda: Cindy, You have 25 weeks to TSE. I recommend you start on 12/14 with the 12 week Category 1 Cross Country Mountain Bike Base Training Plan, then progress on to the 12 week 7-Day Mountain Bike Stage Race – Personal Record Plan to peak for TSE. After TSE take a good rest and reassess your priorities and schedule.
Cindy Copley: LW, thank you. It’s a big calendar, but TSE is the biggy and yes, there will be re-assessing for sure!
Kristin Moyer: Thanks so much for another open coaching day, Coach Lynda. Can you help me make my Christmas list? 1) Bike seat (hole in the middle) that is light for XC racing but comfy enough for hundies, 2) favorite type of helmet (is white a good idea to reflect heat in the summer?), 3) gloves or other tricks to keep my fingers warmer in the winter, 4) tricks to keep toes warm (I’ve got Sidi winter boots, but my toes still get super cold on longer road downhills).
Coach Lynda: 1) You just have to try a bunch of them to see which one fits. Adding a bit of weight to your saddle to get the right one is worth it for the longer events. My go-to Saddle is the Selle Italia Diva gel flow
2) Same answer as above – try them on in a shop to find one that fits the size and shape of your head.
3) Keep your forearms warm and hands. Even the best gloves struggle to keep your hands warm when your forearms are exposed and cold. Chemical hand warmers on the backs of your hands. Windproof gloves that are breathable enough so your hands don’t get wet. Brand wise I have always liked Pearl Izumi gloves but my current favs are ones I bought for riding my motorcycle Alpinestars Stella Transition Drystar Gloves
4) Chemical toe warmers are the best!!
5) Add a pair of Elevated Legs to your Christmas list smile emoticon
Bobby Hugh: For hands, pogies or what a local shop makes called moose mitts, they make a world of difference, I wear summer weight gloves most of the time with them.
Coach Lynda: Bobby – thanks for that suggestions! I forgot about pogies.
Graham Adcock: Another vote for chemical hand-warmers. But I put them in my shoes. Keeps feet warm.
Mark Gabot: Lynda, Question: Every XC MTB race I do I finish without GI issues. But about 1-2 hours after the race I get bad GI issues with dry heaving. I eat oatmeal about 2-3 hours before the start of the race and a recovery drink after with a light meal. Have you seen this with other athletes? It’s become trial and error at this point and would like to dial it in before my big season goals next year.
Coach Lynda: Mark, What do you eat and drink during the race?
Mark Gabot: My product sponsor ERGOGENICSPORTSNUTRITION.COM If the race is typically longer than 1 hour I will take a cliff shot or mix it with my bottle.
Coach Lynda: Mark, you are on the right track with trial and error to figure this all out. It is unusual to finish a race with no GI issues then have issues 1-2 hours later. That suggests looking at your post-race fueling first. The ESN looks like a great product. I suggest trying that alone and drop the light meal until after your 1-2 hour time period where you get the dry heaves. If that doesn’t work then switch it and drop the ESN recovery drink and have the light meal only.
Mark Gabot: Thank you. I recently looked at the ingredients and it has whey protein. Since I’m lactose intolerant that may be my issue. But the strange thing is that when I do a standard or even high intensity workout and take the same recovery drink no problems. It’s only after a race where i usually dig deep and “bury myself” that I see problems. Maybe I should also change my “light meal”.
Lars Onsrud: Mark Gabot, I experienced post-race GI problems for years! I also was eating oatmeal, more specifically with fruit. Either a banana or blue berries. Once I eliminated the fruit, no problem ever again. It only took me 15 years I hope that helps
Mark Gabot: Thanks Lars. I wish I could be that easy for me. I only do oatmeal and honey. The search continues.
Bobby Hugh: Hello Lynda, for 2016 I am going to be getting back into doing some races after 2015 largely off. Trying to piece together some events. My primary goal is to finish the Marji Gesick 100 on september 24th (under 12 hours would be nice, but with only a few people doing that last year and the last finishers coming in over 17 hours focused on finishing first). I want to add another 100 miler or some other larger event as well to help keep motivated. I would like to go try to finish the damn Breck 100 this year, but unsure if the funds are there to go spend the few weeks ahead of time. the History there is I tried twice, the last time felt good until race morning then had breathing issues again that took 3 or so miles to get under control, then was behind and took a fall coming over wheeler pass and missed the loop 1 cutoff by 5 mins. May try the 68 as I seem to have little luck with loop 1. If that does not happen I was looking at Mohican 100 or 100 km on June 4th, or going back to lumberjack 100 on June 18th (have been at this even 6-7 times now). Any thoughts on the possible timing that may work best for an event before the MG 100 on sept 24th? I am not opposed to going and doing my own 100 mile “race” somewhere as well if the timing works out better.
I did some math and Breck is 11 weeks out from the MG 100. So It would be uncertainty around being able to swing getting out to the Breck 100/68 (it would be nice to actually finish there…), or a more local/not at elevation race earlier. Also forgot to mention next year I will be 42 as well.
Coach Lynda: Bobby, I like the timing of Mohican and Lumberjack better for you being early/mid-June. You can peak for one of those events, recover properly then peak again for Marji Gesick 100 in September. I agree it is really hard to peak for high altitude events and Breck 100 is not a great stepping stone to your MG100 in Sept. . Did you want me to recommend a training plan stack to get you there?
Bobby Hugh:Thanks for the sanity check, I am going to run the weight loss/base plan then I have the masters 100 miler PR plan from 2 years ago, are there any major changes to that plan?. What would be the best way to fill the time between 100 milers? With 14 or 16 weeks between? Some rest then start over or start at a later week in the plan as I will already be riding longer hours? And maybe when I turn 45 to go try to tackle that dang Breck 100…. one day I swear.
Coach Lynda: Bobby, put in 2 solid rest weeks after your first hundie then repeat the 100 miler plan starting at week #1 if you have 12 weeks or start at week #3 if you only have 10 weeks to go to the next hundie after the 2 weeks of rest.
Linwood Doty: Good Morning, I’m 61yrs, 6’1, 185 been riding 1 x week about 10 miles since 2006, got into Leadville 100 lottery last yr and started upping my training but it was not enough and missed the twins lakes cutoff by 20 min. Since then I did finish the Fools Gold 50 mile in 8:30 mins which was bad but I finished, I want to finish Leadville this year …that’s’ the goal to go back and finish. I am currently doing 50-65 miles per week with a 25 mile ride on weekends that give about 3,200 feet of climbing.
Coach Lynda: Linwood, finishing Leadville Trail 100 is a bucket list goal! You sound like you are on the right track to achieving that. You have 36 weeks to the 2016 race and I recommend using every week to work towards your goal! I recommend starting your Base training next week on 12/7 with the 12 week Masters 40+ MTB Cross Country Base Training Plan, then progress on to the 12 week Masters 40+ MTB Cross Country Build Peak and Race Training Plan to add speed to your riding to make the cut-offs, then for your final 12 weeks up to race day follow the Masters 40+ MTB 100 Mile Personal Record Training Plan to get your 100 mile performance into peak form.
Linwood Doty: Awesome thanks, I will check those out. And maybe a stupid question, How do you know when your legs are too tired to go out and train? at 65 miles per week they are always sore and don’t feel 100%…I do have rest days and sometimes 2 days back to back.
Coach Lynda: Linwood, that is a really good question! The BEST way to know if you are doing quality training that is making you fitter rather than just more tired is to train with a power meter. If you are hitting the watts and power targets while riding, you are doing quality training, if you are not, you need to rest more.
Often times increasing your recovery habits will get rid of the sore legs-all-the-time feeling. The first thing to look at is if your protein intake in your diet is sufficient. Also adding a pair of Elevated Legs will help. Learn more about them here and get our special LW Coaching Elevated Legs discount coupon code
Linwood Doty: Ok thanks again!
Graham Adcock: Hi , Is rowing a good alternative to cycling in bad weather, and a refresher after lots of turbo training?
Coach Lynda: Graham, yes rowing is a great alternative to turbo training when you are in the base training phase. It is good to work the legs, heart and lungs but also gets the core and back muscles in a way that cycling misses.
Graham Adcock: Thanks for the reply. First season of winter strength training for a few years Feeling stronger already, thanks for your advice.
Alex Alex: Hello Lynda. I am an early 40’s desk jockey getting back into racing. I’ve competed in 100k’s and 6hr events as well as typical XC races and plan to continue, just placing better. My question surrounds FTP testing during training. How often should I be testing, once every time I switch cycles (base 1 to base 2 for example) or less frequent. Thanks way in advance.
Coach Lynda: Alex , it depends on which phase of training you are in. If you are training with a power meter you will continually be getting feedback on your performance so can test less frequently. A generalization is to test every 6 weeks or whenever you feel your training zones are off.
Nicole Gunton: I was wondering how important the Zone 1 or recovery rides are? Honestly they are my least favorite rides on the training plan, I get so incredibly board, and with the cold weather they lack the intensity to keep me warm in the cold and rain of winter. Maybe if I heard the benefits I could stay a little more motivated to do them?
Coach Lynda: Zone 1 rides are very low priority and for some athletes, passive rest, an easy swim or a massage are better recovery options. It sounds like you should drop them from your schedule!
Kristin Moyer: Are there any online spin classed you’d recommend? I hate being inside, but the reality of CO winters is that I need to be on the trainer a bit (especially in Dec/Jan). I get bored and have a hard time hitting HRZ 4/5 for intervals. Not sure, but an online spin class might help me improve interval qualities. (Local spin classes don’t work due to times/locations.)
Coach Lynda: Kristin, I’m not versed in all the online options out there for spin classes. Maybe another athlete can chime in and make a recommendation.
Graham Adcock: Used Coach Troy’s video and cds for many years. Samples are on the web. It’s funny how a coach’s voice and music can get to you when watching it time and again. Works for me. Plus gained quite a collection over the years for variations. LW coaching plan and good music been working really well too.
Neil Beltchenko: If you had to give one piece of advice on training for a bikepacking race (300-500 mile range), what would it be?
Coach Lynda: Neil, my #1 piece of advice would be to nail your taper so you show up at the start line rested, motivated and healthy.
Luke Hurley: Lynda, I have just started back up with the Masters 40+ base program and find, that like last year, I don’t have time for the 2 hour rides on Saturday with my daughters swim meet schedule taking up most Saturdays and some Sundays. In those cases, till about the end of January, should I just skip them or move the Sat ride to Fri instead and the Sunday to Monday? Thanks.
Coach Lynda: Luke, that sounds busy! That is awesome that your daughter is swimming at that level tho. I recommend you move the Sat ride to Fri. Then if you have time and energy on Monday, make up the Sunday ride. If you are exhausted on Monday after a big weekend, drop the Sunday ride and move on with the plan. On Monday the strength session is a higher priority than making up the Sunday ride.
Luke Hurley: Excellent thanks
Colin Erskine: I don’t really understand the PE, TSS, & IF. Are there other things I can go off of in my notes? I’ve been writing down avg power, avg H.R, avg mph.
Coach Lynda: IF is intensity factor and TSS is training stress score. These are numbers you will pull from your power file. Here are the definitions of each: LW Coaching Power Training Glossary
PE is perceived exertion. This is your perception of how hard a workout was. It is scored on a 1-10 scale. Here is a chart explaining how each PE number should feel: Training Intensity Guidelines
Colin Erskine: Yes, I have both of those charts. But can you give me an example with real numbers
Coach Lynda: Here is a file of 4 x 6 min intervals TSS is 81.2 and IF is 0.737. The athlete reported a PE of 8 for this workout.
Coach Lynda: Colin, do you download your power files and look at them after rides?
Colin Erskine: I sure do. I upload them onto Strava. Is the 8 in the ride considered a hard 8 or 8 easy? (Scale 1-10 correct… 1 being easy, 10 being hard)
Coach Lynda: Here is the standard RPE 1-10 chart
Daniel Pineda: What type or specific training do you recommend for circuit XC races? Should I focus on hill repeats of about 1-2km long at VO2 or LT, how long should my longest rides be and also, I know this one is too complicated to answer for short on a thread like this, but what could be a good indicator of when I am coming to my peak, since I have sometimes been at my best before or after a scheduled race, based on my time and feeling references on certain segments I have. Thank you sincerely.
Coach Lynda: Daniel, how long will your longest race last?
Daniel Pineda: They usually last about 1:30 to 2 hours. About 4-5 laps with 1-2 km long climbs, since i love to ride I’ve been usually doing long rides of about 5 hours with lots of hard climbs, but I think it could hurt my performance instead of benefit it on the XC scene, in where I always finish my last laps way less strong than the first ones, so I would like to improve my race endurance in that specific issue
Coach Lynda: I recommend limiting your longest ride to 3 hours and putting the balance of your energy into establishing a good base with lots of tempo and strength work, then moving into a build period with increased VO2max and threshold sessions. Work your threshold up to 3 x 20 min intervals. 3-4 min hill repeats, start practice and short track sessions are all good speed builders for XC racing. An indicator of peak form is high CTL, low ATL and high TSB for XC racing from the Performance Manager Chart
Daniel Pineda: Right now I can sustain the 3 x 20 min at threshold, I usually do 4 x 20 intervals on a climb that allows it, my fast start is not bad, but my race endurance is, as for peak, I don’t have a power meter I base my training to heart rate and perceived exertion, so that’s why I have trouble to know or estimate my exact peak days
Coach Lynda: I recommend increasing the intensity of your 3 x 20 so you cannot complete a 4th rep.
Daniel Pineda: Will do, thank you
Luis Rosa Colon: What would be more beneficial for the off-season training, a traditional long base training or the so-called sweet spot training?
Coach Lynda: Luis, That would depend on your goals, timing and amount of time you have available to train. I recommend a combination of sweet spot and endurance rides for most scenarios.
Luis Rosa Colon: I mostly race XC around 1.5-2hrs race but want to add at least two Endurance even 40-65 miles. Time to train is other issue with a full-time job and family responsibilities. Since in the past I put so many miles during base period want to take a different approach this season. The goals better timing and keep up with the fast group, better placing.
Coach Lynda: With limited training time, emphasize intensity over endurance. More sweet spot and fewer long rides will fit better for you and get you the results you are aiming for.
Kathryn Salix: Hi Lynda, I just got the green light for Leadville 100 this year! I have both your Winter Training Plan for Endurance Focused MTB racers and the 100-mile personal record plan. My base isn’t too large right now so I was thinking of stacking both of those plans with a rest week in between. Do you think that this would be enough to prepare for Leadville 100?
Coach Lynda: Kathryn, that is a great training plan stack for Leadville 100. I like it.
Erica Tingey: I am 5 weeks into base training and my 20 min power is still quite low. Can I expect it to jump in my next phase of training or should I keep on with base another few weeks before I get on with the next phase?
Coach Lynda: Erica, Keep moving forward with the plan. You can expect it to jump in your next phase. If not, look at backing off the Crossfit. That might be holding you back now.
Erica Tingey: That is very good to know. I will consider backing off CrossFit if I don’t see a bump in power next time. Thanks!
Michael Hahn: Hey there! I have been off the bike for about 3 weeks now after my last race in December. I usually use this time as a mini “off-season” and then resume training in the beginning of the new year. During the 3 off weeks I did a lot of running and gym work but not many “off” days. I am finding that the last thing that I want to do right now is get back on the bike. I think that the lack of motivation may be a little overtraining from last year. Should I take a few more weeks away from the bike, work in a full rest week or tough it out? Thanks!!
Coach Lynda: Michael, rest it out – absolutely!
Michael Hahn: Thanks!!
Erica Tingey: When I have a 3.5 hour training ride on my schedule and due to weather, need to execute it on the rollers, how long is reasonable? Since riding outside you have descents and little breaks. I’ve done a couple of 3+hour sessions with our cold snap and it is not super pleasant:)
Coach Lynda: Erica, 1 hour is reasonable on the trainer then go outside and spend the balance of the time on skis or a fat bike to accumulate the rest of your endurance hours.
Erica Tingey: Great, thank you!
Mark Gabot: What can you recommend for using HR for high intensity short intervals (VO2/AC)? From your podcast on MTB radio it’s not very accurate. Is perceived exertion better?
Coach Lynda: A power meter is optimal. Perceived exertion is better than HR.
Jimmy Cullison: Are there any specific training routines for single speed xc racing. I race sport/ beginner single speed class in Michigan are races in this class are in the 18-mile range.
Coach Lynda: Yes! Here are 2 training plans designed specifically for SS XC racing. Each has a free 2 week preview to browse to see both the workouts and the training plan flow.
Jimmy Cullison: Thank you. I’ll look it over tonight after work.
Erica Tingey: Do you agree with the idea of HRV testing? I do it each morning and try to alter training when I get a low score.
Coach Lynda: Erica, IME it works great for some athletes and not at all for others. After being consistent with recording it for a month you should be able to identify if it predicts how you feel and use it as a metric to make training decisions. Athletes with stress in their lives from other areas than training find that interferes with HRV readings and make it difficult to draw training conclusions from an HRV number.
Erica Tingey: Ok, that’s what I suspected!