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Open MTB coaching Jan and Feb 2015 Q & A’s recap

We are on a roll with our live online open MTB coaching days and have been hosting them on our LW Coaching Facebook page during the first week of every month. Like our page and join us next month.


Here’s our compilation of Q & A’s from both our January and February open coaching days. Big thanks and a shout out to Dan for sharing his great race photo to spice up our February open coaching day.

Jason Aytes:  Next year I want to focus on CX racing. However, I would love to do some endurance mountain bike racing in the spring and early summer. Is it reasonable to think I can turn my endurance MTB fitness into cx specific fitness in a three-month time span? Or would I be better off to stick to XC Mtb races? Thanks for the open coaching day!

Coach Lynda:  Racing endurance in the summer and CX in the winter is a great combo and creates its own built-in periodization schema that works very well; endurance/base summer then CX fast winter. I like it. Sticking with XC all summer lacks variety and will lead your performance gains to plateau out.

Coach Lynda:  Jason Aytes you get a mention in my new LW Coaching show on Mountain Bike Radio coming out next week for one of your VO2max interval questions on recovery period.

Jason Aytes:  Thanks, looking forward to the show as always.

Luis Rosa Colon:  Hello Lynda, I’m Cat1 Expert 45+ mountain biker that love to race xc and endurance races, after move from Utah to New York State finished my season. I been out of the bike for more than 3 months looking for the motivation to get back on track. Want to be in top shape for Windham next August 2015. Where I can start.?

Coach Lynda:  Start with the 12 week Masters 40+ MTB Cross Country Base Training Plan and then progress on to the 12 week Masters 40+ MTB Cross Country Build Peak and Race Training Plan to get back in top shape.

Stephan Bergen:  Luis, good luck in NY! I’ll miss seeing you at the i-cup and midweek races!

Luis Rosa Colon:  Hey! Thanks I miss Utah and all you guys, great place, good people, nothing compared to the cycling community in Utah.

Luke Hurley:  Lynda, for my 20 min TT for testing I ended up with an average of 287 watts. It was difficult, but doable. I find that now when I am on the trainer during the base portion still, about half way I find even 120+ to make my legs start to burn. Do you have any thoughts on this. Thanks.

Coach Lynda:  Did you do your test on the trainer with the same power meter?

Luke Hurley:  Same bike and power meter, but I did the test outside along the NH coast long and flat. I am working on an adrenal fatigue condition with my chiro if that helps.

Coach Lynda:  Re-do your power test on your trainer and follow those numbers for indoor trainer sessions.

Jay Kwan:  Hi Lynda, I’m mainly a cyclocross racer, and mountain bike in my off-season. I’m planning for next year and was wondering how I should stack your plans. I generally get in about 10-15 hours a week of training in. I do need to lose some weight, so I was thinking of you base and weight loss plan? For my main cx season I really don’t have a single race I want to build for, and I’m looking to be good for most of the season. I heard about non linear periodization, and was wondering what your thoughts are about it?

Coach Lynda:  Jay, The weight loss and base mtb training plan is the perfect place to start if you want to lose 10-12 lbs.

Coach Lynda:  By “next year” do you mean 2016?

Jay Kwan:  Yes, this season should start in late September early October and I generally will end in early January 2016

Coach Lynda:  After the weight loss and base plan follow the TIME CRUNCHED Category 1 Cross Country MTB Build, Peak and Race Plan

Taylor Webb:  Hi Lynda. I am going out to the Breck Epic this year as a volunteer and racing in 2016. Coming from Iowa how can I get the long climbing training in that I need? Thank You.

Coach Lynda:  Taylor, ride into the wind non-stop at tempo pace in a bigger gear than usual to simulate long hill climbing. Also ride repeats on the longest climbs you do have.

Bobby Hugh:  Hello Lynda, coming off illness and an injury here trying to line up some events for the year. Currently I am looking at the DK200, any ideas on modifications to the 100 miler masters plan or any plans that would cover a 200 miler? There is the potential I may just do a few local 100 milers instead as well. thanks again

Coach Lynda:  Bobby, the Masters 40+ 100 Mile Mountain Bike Personal Record Training Plan is good to go as is for DK200

Chris Ellis: Time Crunched 40-year-old Cat 1. Which plans…Time Crunched or 40+ XC base/build plans?

Coach Lynda:  Time crunched.

Brad Enerson:  Hi Lynda, I’m a 46-year-old, Cat3 mountain biker looking to train for a 50 mile race at end of September, that gives me 36 weeks for training. I raced for the first time last year in three races, max race distance was 26 miles. My goal for the 50 miler is to finish within the top 1/2 of my age and class bracket. What 3 plans do you recommend I follow to get me ready for my event? Thanks!

Coach Lynda:  Brad, The training plan stack I recommend for you is a Base plan followed by a Build, peak and race plan to build your speed and then a 50 miler plan to add endurance to hold that race pace for the 50 miles. Follow these 3 plans from the Masters 40+ menu

Brad Enerson:  Great. Thanks much Lynda!

Tucker Judd: Hi! I have a mtb Time Trial ( a short 5 miles race, my 7th place last year was 27:36) coming up on January 17th and I’ve been racing a time trial series up until the middle of December as well. My next race is a 30 mile XC race on April 11th. That I would really like to make a good showing at. Is there enough time between these to do a full base season and still be race ready in April or should I do some kind of modified plan? What would you recommend? If it matters I highly suspect most mileage will be on the road until near the end of February due to weather and associated trail closures here. What would you suggest? Thanks!

Coach Lynda:  What category are you racing? What is your age? Gears or single-speed?

Tucker Judd: Sport class, my racing age will be 32 this year and I race on gears.

Coach Lynda:  If this is your highest priority peak race of the season, head straight into a Build, Peak and Race plan to optimize your speed at that race. If this is the first race in a full season of racing, invest in the Base plan to set yourself up for the best entire season and not only a peak at race #1.

Tucker Judd:  I’d like to make a good showing since it’s at my home trail just a few miles away but it’s the first in a season of racing that will likely run into January again. I tend to race a lot of Time Trials and I throw in some endurance events(3/6/12hr and 50 mile) that look fun but the one in April will probably be my only real xc race this year.

Coach Lynda:  Tucker, you have 13 weeks to your April 11th XC race. I recommend spending the first 6 weeks on a Base training plan and the 7 weeks leading into your race on a Build, Peak and Race plan

Tucker Judd: Thanks!

Carey Lowery:  Lynda, I cannot seem to get out of my fitness “slump.” Been sticking to the plan, eating clean, sleeping relatively well (8-9 hours). I suppose the time in the weight room could be affecting me somewhat. But, for any given RPE, my HR is 7-9 beats and power is 10-15 watts below normal. It’s hard not to let this get to me mentally and I am trying to be patient. Strength wise I feel great! I am able to do more pull ups, push ups, and dips than ever. I have a doctor’s appointment next week to rule out medical. I know at some point, given my age, that there will be a “plateau/decline” in performance, but I don’t want to play the age card yet. Advice, please!

Coach Lynda:  Carey, this is where you have to be a detective to sleuth out what is robbing your power and HR. Start with a food log and check you are getting at least 100g per day of protein and are covering all of your daily calorie needs. Eliminate any nutrition deficits. Get a full blood profile and physical to eliminate mono, hypothyroid and the other usual fatigue suspects. Also get your blood pressure checked and bring it up to the normal range by eating extra sodium if needed. Perma low blood pressure can feel like a perma-bonk. Low sodium can be an issue for athletes eating very clean and sweating out electrolytes daily. You can crank up your sodium for a few days to test this without harm done long-term. Look at the Apex Nutrition, LLC  sodium loading recipe. Make these training changes; drop the strength training down to movement prep and core work for 2 weeks. Choose passive rest instead of active recovery for any recovery day.

Bonnie Kleffman:  My question is similar to Carey’s in terms of weight training. I am a fitness teacher/personal trainer so I strength train year round, but take it easy on the legs when I have hard training or racing coming up. This is my first year really trying to train for endurance instead of xc distance, and now I feel like the weight training is just enough to push me over the exhaustion edge! Is my body just adjusting to riding longer, or do I need to consider my leg strength ‘built’ and just focus on the riding? I am 42 and take care of 2 little ones. Like Carey, I am not ready to play the age card yet, but I know it may be a factor in recovery. I also try to eat well and I practice good sleep habits.

Coach Lynda:  Bonnie, as you suspect, you have reached that point where you need to choose goals and make sacrifices in other areas. I recommend putting your strength training on hold and focusing on your endurance until your goal race is over. Then lower the riding volume and follow a strength building phase to rebuild your strength. This anabolic/catabolic cycle is a common pattern in top endurance racers. Build muscle in the off-season and spend it in the race season. Check in with your protein consumption and daily calorie balance like Carey Myfitnesspal is a great app for food logs.

Tom Welge: Doing my first metric 100 gravel ride this weekend. Any newbie advice?

Coach Lynda:  Tom, set a goal, make a plan and execute it.

Brad Hawk:  Any suggestions for maintaining endurance MTB fitness for those of us who travel for work each week. On the road minimum of 3 days each week with no access to cycling equipment.

Coach Lynda:  Brad, schedule your travel days as recovery days. Bank the recovery then train hard at home.

Mark T Snidero:  Being 54, I’m definitely pulling the age card… I’m on the 2-5 day bikepacking race plan. My legs are tired most of the time now…I’m in Week 7. In the 40+ 100 mile PB plan, I think it’s every third week there’s a down week…you may do that for all of your 40+ programs, I’m not sure. If I feel myself not bouncing back from workouts, if I were to take a day or two off, which ones should I take? Or, should I keep pushing through the workouts and wait until the taper starting in week 10 or 11, I think?

Coach Lynda:  Mark, before backing down the training I recommend cranking up your recovery. Use MyFitnessPal and do a 3 day food log. Check you are not in a daily calorie and protein deficit. Chronic underfueling is the #1 problem I see in athletes at this time of the season and it will prevent recovery. Also check in with my Recovery Tips page to see what else you can add // For training changes: Drop the strength training down to core work only for 2 weeks. Choose passive rest instead of active recovery for any recovery day or optional session. Drop the day 6 rides if needed to fully bounce back.

Mark T Snidero:  You know what, I really have backed down on my protein intake since the end of last season. I’ll try increasing that back up. I forget, how many grams of protein per kg is recommended?

Coach Lynda:  Mark, I highly recommend picking up the Fuel Right, Race Light e-book. It contains guidelines for protein consumption and many other key nutritional strategies to keep you racing and recovering.

Mark Wellsted:  Hi Lynda My question is about intervals at Power L4, in the 3rd MBR show (great shows by the way) you talk about doing L4 intervals uphill is best. If I do these on a trainer what cadence is best and would you elevate the front wheel? I know that the duration and power are key but can I improve the workout on a trainer.

Coach Lynda:  Mark, thanks for kudos on the Mountain Bike Radio shows. They are a lot of work but athletes seem to be finding them a great resource. L4 intervals are great to do on the trainer. I do not recommend elevating your front wheel to mimic climbing as that leads to rear end damage and other odd position related injuries. It is just not the same on the trainer as riding an actual hill. Best keep it flat on the trainer. Duration and power are key. Nail those 2 factors and you are doing the work required. It really is that simple. For the most part keep your cadence at your most efficient point. It is ok to vary cadence and do some lower cadence L4 intervals and some high cadence but the priorities are duration and power.

Mark Wellsted:  Thanks Lynda and thank you for taking the time to do these coaching days and the radio show.

Bill Cahill: Lynda – should trainer workouts be done with a MTB on the trainer, or does a road bike work? Might be a broader question, but is the duration/effort on a road bike equal to that of a MTB?

Coach Lynda:  Bill, duration and power on any bike are the priority parameters for L4 intervals. Bike and location are secondary. 250w for 4 minutes on a road bike is equal to 250w for 4 minutes on a MTB.

Coach Lynda:  Bill, listen to the shows on Mountain Bike Radio. We answer all of those types of questions in episode #1 – Intervals for mountain bikers – The Basics B

ill Cahill:  Thanks, Lynda. I did, and found them very helpful. I heard one comment (different show) to the effect that riding a road bike to improve MTB endurance is like asking a baseball player to play golf to improve his batting average (both involve hitting a little white ball a long distance)

Coach Lynda:  Bill, who said that? Curious.

Kim Cross:  I’m in week 8 of the 40+ base training plan. By the time it’s complete I will have done about 4 “off plan” events. A couple to 2 person team 6 hour races and a couple of time trials. Do these “off plan” efforts have a significant effect on the desired base training results?

Coach Lynda:  Kim, are you adding extra recovery days before and after your “off plan” events to avoid over-training?

Kim Cross:  Yes. I listen to my body and usually skip Sunday & Monday resuming the plan on Tuesday. Beforehand I have just skipped Friday’s workout for Saturday races.

Coach Lynda:  Kim, if you are recovering from your events and being smart about your extra rest days the “off plan” events will not have a significant impact. If these off plan events build mojo and your love for racing that is a positive impact.

Christina Probert Turner:  Hi Lynda: I am on week 2 of Cat 1 base training, I was wondering about adding a little 15-20 min jog into the week? My body forgets how to run if I don’t do just a little thru-out the whole yr..? This is mainly for the cx season . Thx

Coach Lynda:  Christina, great plan. Add up to a 30 min run once per week at an easy pace. Good for bone density too.

John Karrasch:  I train 6-8 hours a week for ss mtb racing and have been adding a couple of 20′ runs every week. It seems to help standing climbing some…Have you found a good minimum running amount to benefit riders? I.e. Is one run a week enough to help or do I need to shoot for 3x a week? I ask because I don’t have time to ride 12-14 hours a week like I wish I could and looking for every way I can to make the most out of my limited time. Hope that made sense!

Coach Lynda:  John, 2 x 20 min runs or 1 x 30 min run every week is great for MTB racers provided they are already recovering from their current training plan and hitting their quality bike workouts fresh. A little foot travel training (aka running) helps with those times you need to get off your bike and push.

John Karrasch: Thanks I’ll continue the 2×20 min runs weekly Lynda! I have been doing them mostly at zone 2 heart rate. That sound good or should I do some harder runs also?Also I have only been doing pavement but might need some trail running too.

Coach Lynda:  John, trail running is fine. Walk down steep trails tho to avoid excessive soreness or impact injuries. I don’t recommend harder/faster runs on pavement. The risk of an over-use injury from running is high for cyclists with soft joints and high aerobic fitness, so stay well below that threshold and keep your focus on bike training.

Louis Brashaw:  Easy button question, on week 2 of PB 24hr solo, how many phone books under wheel to simulate 6-8% grade? Race with Grace

Coach Lynda:  Louis, none. They cause problems that are not worth it. Intervals are great to do on the trainer. I do not recommend elevating your front wheel to mimic climbing as that leads to rear end damage and other odd position related injuries. It is just not the same on the trainer as riding an actual hill. Best keep it flat on the trainer. Duration and power are key. Nail those 2 factors and you are doing the work required. It really is that simple. For the most part keep your cadence at your most efficient point. It is ok to vary cadence and do some lower cadence intervals and some high cadence but the priorities are duration and power.

Anthony Thornton:  4iiii power meter. Have you been able to test and use? I won’t use stages since it’s a mix match system and the avoid carbon, yet test each crank arm ??? I would really like to give the 4iiii the nod but it’s still new and don’t know anyone using as they now have your crank arm sent to them for quality assurance. Your thoughts??

Coach Lynda:  Anthony, not yet!! It is not available yet. It looks fantastic from every viewpoint but they are not available to the consumer yet.

Mike Prochaska:  Hi Lynda! Plan to give the AZT750 another go this year. Well, training for it anyway, and hope that schedule permits come April 3rd. Gotta go faster than last year, ya know? Anyway, I was doing Wk4 Day2 intervals 2 days ago, but on a spin cycle in the gym rather than on hills (‘cuz of weather, schedule, and I like to use the Power numbers that the spin cycle gives out). When I got to 4x4min at L5/Z5 I had trouble with leg power at beginning of the 2nd through 4th Z5 intervals. I would start the 4min intense interval and then 30sec in I’d the hardest time sustaining the effort, and would have to break for 5-10sec to let the legs recover, and then was able to spin right back up and sustain for the 3+min remainder of the interval. It kinda felt like the legs would temporarily ‘give out’. Walked away wondering “what’s up with the 30sec ‘barrier’?” Perhaps mental rather than physical, but thought I’d bring it up to see if you have any input or thoughts.

Coach Lynda:  Mike, you are certainly starting the intervals too hard. Gym bikes are notoriously inaccurate. It might actually read low until it warms up meaning you would have to start too hard to compensate.

Mike Prochaska:  Ok, thanks. I’ll rely more on my HRM data, then, when using gym bike, and not watch the power numbers there so much.

Lance Windey:  Hi Lynda, I signed up for the Breck 100 race in mid July…Having completed two Leadville 100 and Tatanka 100 races over the past few years, I am comfortable with that distance and climbing, although understanding that the Breck 100 takes it up a few notches…that in mind, will the 40 plus, 100 mile PR plan that you offer, provide enough hill climbing and such to prepare me for Breck, or should I consider one of your alternate coaching options? Sorry for any typing errors as I’m typing this on phone while doing bike cooldown. By the way, I very much enjoyed the 4 part interval series you did on MtBike Radio. Cheers and thanks!

Coach Lynda:  Lance, thanks for the kind words about the Mountain Bike Radio shows. The Masters 40+ MTB 100 Mile Personal Record 12 week training plan was designed with Breck 100 in mind. It is the perfect plan for that event. Counting from next Monday 2/9, you have 23 training weeks until Breck 100. You will get more out of the 100 miler training plan by doing the Masters 40+ MTB Cross Country Base Training Plan first. This is a 12 week plan so miss out the last week to chop it down to 11 weeks to fit with your timing.