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Training and recovery for 100 mile mountain bike races

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Training and recovery for 100 mile mountain bike races.

Training and recovery for 100 mile mountain bike races

Coach’s Column with Lynda Wallenfels: Tips on Training and Recovery for 100 Milers

Question: I’d like to get into endurance racing this season and ideally would like to do 3-4, 100 miler mountain bike races.  I’ve mostly been a regular xc racer and have done some 50/100k races.  How do I plan my training to be able to do the 100s and how far apart should I plan on racing the 100 milers so I can recover enough between them?”

Answer: Three to four 100 miler mountain bike races are a good number to fit into one race season. Ideally spread them out as far as you can. The more time you have, the better prepared you can be for each race.

Unlike cross country distance races, 100 mile mountain bike races spend fitness, not build it. By the time you have rested and tapered properly into the race and recovered adequately after it, your overall CTL (chronic training load) and fitness will be lower than before.

Recovery from a 100 mile race takes 2-3 weeks depending on a number of variables.

  • How deep into your reserves you went during the race: This is a balance between your fitness level,      race effort, how well fueled and hydrated you started and remained during the event.
  • How beaten up you were post-race: Skin abrasions, sunburn, bruises, hypothermia, hyperthermia and injuries sustained during the race add up to more recovery time required.
  • Post-race recovery habits: Excellent nutrition, more sleep, less stress, ice baths and compression therapy can increase recovery rates.
  • Natural recovery speed: Personal ability and age do impact recovery rates.

I do not recommend racing 100 mile mountain bike events on back-to-back weekends with 7 days or less days between races. This guarantees fatigue in the second event. Spacing these races 2-3 weeks apart allows only enough time for race-recover-race. Athletes on race-recover-race schedules find their CTL and fitness will steadily erode over the season.

To continually improve, I recommend scheduling training time between events to rebuild CTL and fitness. Spacing your races 4 or more weeks apart provides you with time in your schedule to increase CTL and rebuild fitness between races.

Lynda Wallenfels is a Category 1 certified USA Cycling coach. She coaches mountain bike, cross country and endurance athletes to personal bests and national championships. Lynda has been coaching off-road athletes and racing for 18 years. Connect with her through her website for information on mountain bike training plans, coaching and consulting at

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