Training Report: Shifting Plans, Building Endurance

James Knott runs early in the morning.

I have cut back on my riding hours and supplementing it with a little running in the off-season. This morning at 4am I ran for 10 miles. It was 15 degree F, windy and snowing – but it was still fun!
Why was I up so early? I was trying to get my workout in before my wife leaves for work and I have to watch the kids.

I think because I am writing a blog that most people assume I am logging crazy hours on my bike.  The words I type seem to amplify my actions by ten in the minds of others.  The fact is that I’m doing a good job of maintaining my base of fitness, but I have only been riding my bike indoors for 3 hours of week up until now.  On top of that, I have been supplementing my workouts with a little running too.

Do you think that is a lot of time for the off-season?  How does it compare to your winter regimen?  Let me know in the comment section.

This is changing though.  The Ohio Mountain Bike Championship (OMBC) series announced their 2014 race schedule and the first event of the year is on March 22 at Mohican Cabins (formerly called “Mohican Wilderness”). This date is much earlier than I anticipated and is causing me to alter my training plans.

Originally, I wasn’t even planning on riding my bike outdoors until March 1st.  I figured I would stick to working out in the basement for an hour at a time with a mix of steady-state and interval workouts to keep myself in shape.  Now the first race is only 8 weeks away and I can’t afford to wait that long if I am going to build up my endurance and strength to the proper levels.

This is the earliest that I can remember the first race being.  What about you?  When do you think the first race of the year should be in Ohio?  The season is March 22nd to October 4th.  Can you maintain your fitness for 6 1/2 months without getting burned out?  What is or should be your strategy for tackling these races?

Last year’s championship race was at Mohican Cabins, so I looked up the stats in Garmin Connect to see what targets I needed to try and be ready for:

  • Race Time: 1:26:48 (35 min warm-up)
  • Distance: 13.57 miles (3.54 mile warm-up)
  • Climbing: 2687 feet (417 warm-up)
  • Average Speed: 9.4 mph (5.8 mph warm-up)
  • Normalized Power: 265 watts (158 watts warm-up)
  • Average Power: 201 watts (86 watts warm-up)
  • Max Power: 805 watts
  • Temperature 52.7 degrees F
  • Calories 1031 (188 calories warm-up)

These numbers are at the end of the season when I was in peak fitness and also include a detour that I took when I made a wrong turn.  My heart rate monitor was not working so I do not have that data to report.

I hope to be able to simulate this effort in a workout scenario, but eight weeks might not be long enough to build up to that.

The other problem is that I used a power meter with no heart rate monitor to measure intensity during the race, but I have been working out with a heart rate monitor and no power meter on my spin bike this winter.  What can I do to create a workout that mimics the intensity of this race?

One idea I have is focusing on the calorie counter.  Calorie counters are notoriously inaccurate, but if I can burn a similar amount of calories in the same amount of time, then I should be close to getting the same intensity.  …in theory.  It’s just an idea at this point.

I guess the point is that I am starting to ride a little longer on my rides in the basement to get ready for the earlier than expected race season.  My main concern is that if I overdo it in the basement during the winter, I might burn myself out mid-season.  This last weekend I rode for two hours while I watched Apocalypse Now on Netflix.  Two hour rides are great for watching movies!

Quick Tip:

If you are working out this winter on a spin bike or indoor trainer, then make sure to spend some time standing while you pedal.  Mountain bikers need to be able to pedal both in and out of the saddle.  These are two separate activities that use different sets of muscles.

Side Notes: Post Workout Recovery Drink

James Knott has been drinking carbohydrates and proteins for recovery.

A small sample of some of the foods and beverages that I have been using for recovery. Proper nutrition can really amp up your workouts and hasten recovery – which allows you to workout harder the next time.

I’ve been improvising my post-workout recovery drink lately, Gatorade 16.9 oz (120 calories) mixed with one scoop of whey protein powder (94 calories), which gives my body a good mix of carbohydrates and proteins to help rebuild muscles.  I usually supplement this with a piece of fruit to bring the ratio of carbs and protein closer to 2 to 1.  Both the Gatorade and the protein are left over from last season and I’m just trying to use them up before I switch to a more formal recovery drink.  But, they are serving the purpose just fine for right now.

Honestly, I don’t think you need to have a specific recovery drink as long as you have a good way to get both carbs and protein.  I’ve heard that chocolate milk is a great recovery beverage if you have some of that in the fridge.  I plan on using Hammer Recoverite.

What do you use for a recovery drink?  Let me know in the comment section.

Quick Tip:

If you are new to the concepts of nutrition, then here is a gross oversimplification of the three macronutrients to help you think about why need carbohydrates, protein and fat in your diet.

Carbohydrates directly fuel your muscles.  Proteins help you build muscles.  Fats are your back-up energy for when you run low on carbohydrates.

Sport Vs. Expert Update

My Sport Vs. Expert article got a way bigger response than I expected.  There were more comments than I have received on any other article and I have gotten several private messages about it too.  People have some pretty strong opinions about this subject.

The response is almost evenly split between people who think I should stay in sport and others who say I should move up to expert.  I am still undecided.  I will be making a decision a little closer to the first OMBC race on March 22.  It will be based on my fitness level at that point and balancing my short-term personal-life limitations with my long-term goals and prospects for growth as a racer.

Ultimately, I just want this to be a fun season.  It’s bizarre to me that I have worked hard towards the goal of winning the Sport Veteran category for 5 years and now that I am close to achieving that objective I feel weird about it.

I want to make a firm decision and stick to it because I want to spend the whole season in whatever class I decide to go with.  I don’t want to bounce up and down depending on how I feel each week and have a season in limbo.

I have to say though, I have had heard from some people in the racing world that I respect a lot and regardless of what I choose to do, I value your input tremendously.

If you haven’t read the article, then I encourage you to go check it out and let me know what you think in the comment section or on Quickdirt’s Facebook page.


I had set a goal of racing at 155 – lighter is better right?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  This week I have been weighing in around 162 or 163.  My body fat seems to be dropping (I haven’t formerly measured it), but I haven’t been losing weight.  Does this mean that I am gaining muscle?  In the power-to-weight ratio being lighter is better – but – building power is equally important.  If you lose weight at the expense of muscle than you aren’t doing yourself any favors.

I was reading some emails between Lance Armstrong and one of his “doctors”.  It turns out that Lance is about the same height as I am and was weighing about the same as I do when he was training for the Tour de France and racing in the Leadville 100.  If it’s good enough for Lance, then it is good enough for me – except for all the banned substances of course.  Knowing that at least helped me feel good about where I’m at.

I will continue to track my weight and calories, so that I don’t put on a significant amount of pounds.  But, I plan to settle in where I’m at and focus on building power.

This morning after a 10 mile run I weighed in at 157.  But, I that was a morning weight and I was dehydrated from my workout.


James Knott went running at 4am in snowy, windy conditions.

At 4am, it’s pretty quiet – a good time to do some thinking on a run. I’ll take running in cold, snowy, windy weather over those same conditions on a bike any day. The wind chill on a bike in an Ohio January is just a little too uncomfortable for me.

As I mentioned above, I have worked up to the point where I can run 10 miles.  This morning I ran 10 miles at 6.5 mph or 9:18 min/mile.

This has far exceeded my original goals for running.  I was just trying to work up to a solid run that was either 6 miles or 60 minutes in length.  A good cardio workout was all that I was really looking for.

The cool thing is that it has been fun.  I used to run track and cross country in high school.  It’s been fun getting back into shape and thinking about working out with my friends on the team back then.

What’s been interesting this time around is that I understand how training works a lot more now than I used to and I’m hoping to use that knowledge to get faster and avoid injuries.

I probably won’t sign up for any official races or runs, but I am looking forward to running a half marathon, 13.1 miles, for the first time since high school.  Once I hit that milestone, I will probably start to dial back my running so that I can focus on riding as the weather warms up.

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4 thoughts on “Training Report: Shifting Plans, Building Endurance

  1. I can’t believe the first race is in March and of all places there. We have rode there in March and the ground is still soft from winter which felt like we were riding in sand! Thats going to be a tough one as far as fitness goes, we are usually still on the road bike that time of year. Checked the Garmin my first mountain bike ride was on15 April last year.

    • Yeah. The trails at Alum Creek are usually too wet to ride at that time of year, so it definitely is a challenge to get into mountain biking shape that early in the season.

  2. In 2005 the first race was in late May. Every year after the first race was earlier and earlier. I think March may be too early due to weather and trail conditions. Many years the first race is the first time I’m on dirt that season. I usually hit my fitness peak in July. Maybe this year I’ll peak earlier. But will that lead to late season burnout? I’m going to use this first race as a fitness test. I just hope I pass. I’ve been riding more outdoors this winter. I purchased a cheap fat bike and have enjoyed some snow riding on a local paved rail trail.

    • What kind of Fat bike did you buy? I didn’t know they made cheap ones. They are fun to ride! Can’t wait to see how your season turns out. You had a good season last year!

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