Six weeks of nothing.
Not exactly nothing… just six weeks with no races.
There was a clump of races in the early spring leading up to my longest race of the year, the Mohican 100. With that over and done, there is a six week gap before the next XC mountain bike race at S&S Trails near Zanesville, Ohio.
This actually worked out perfectly for me in terms of training. I was able to divide the season into two halves. Even though, most of my races in the spring were XC races between 10 and 25 miles, I focused most of training on building endurance for the Mohican 100. This allowed me to construct a good base of fitness early in the year.
My structured workouts were focused mainly on the lower power zones of endurance, tempo and lactate threshold. Even when I did interval training it was longer intervals with lower intensities. I only logged a handful of standing VO2Max intervals to mix things up and work on my upright pedaling. But, my training will start to change quite a bit in the coming weeks.
I have been using the first part of my six weeks off to recover a little bit. The week after the Mohican 100 I did some light spinning and some running. My first intense workout was a functional threshold power (FTP) test. I scored 292 watts, an all-time high, 7 watts higher than where I was at the previous month, a 2.4 percent gain. This was offset in my power-to-weight ratio a little by the 5 extra pounds I put on. It’s also 3 watts higher than my peak last season. Hopefully, I can score a few more FTP watts later in the season.
I also used that test to find my lactate threshold heart rate (LTHR) for the first time. It was 153 beats per minute. This is the approximate point where lactate is building up in your muscles faster than your body can expel it. I hope to use this information to build heart rate zones and design workouts based on my heart rate. As a bonus, it’s definitely helpful to have this information when the power meter runs out of batteries and you need to change your planned workout on the fly.
Knowing both your FTP and LTHR is a good way of gauging your inputs and outputs. Heart rate measures the effort you put into your riding, while power measures the output of those efforts. Your LTHR isn’t supposed to change much over time, so your goal as an athlete is be able to produce more power at that heart rate as your body becomes more effiicient.
How will my training change? Here is a typical workout week for the second half:
- Monday – off
- Tuesday – Sweet Spot Intervals on the spin bike – to help build FTP
- Wednesday – 60 Minutes of running on Treadmill
- Thursday – Some mix of VO2Max, Anaerobic and Neuromuscluar Intervals on the spin bike
- Friday – off
- Saturday – 3-4 hour ride with plenty of singletrack mixed in if the weather/schedule allows
- Sunday – Long Run outside, between 8 and 15 miles (I’m still training for my marathon in December)
3 days of riding per week. How does this compare to your workout schedule? Let me know in the comment section.
I’m hoping to try and squeeze a few more mid-week mountain bike miles in but it’s going to be tough from a scheduling point of view. During the work week, I need to be done with my training by 6:30 or 7:00 am, which doesn’t give me a lot of sunlight to work with.
My training is definitely lacking specificity this season. It’s really hard to mimic the efforts required for mountain biking on a spin bike in the basement. The XC races require a lot of short, punchy bursts of power, so that is where I am going to focus a lot of my training. There will be a lot of intervals between 10 and 90 seconds in length because that’s usually how long you are pushing hard up a hill (at least in my part of Ohio) before coasting down the other side.
In a nutshell, I focused on endurance until the end of May and now I’m going to start adding more intensity to my workouts in the second half of the race season to try and increase my speed.
What are your workouts like these days? Do you call them workouts or do you “just ride”? Is there a plan or do you just wing it? I suspect most people just wing it and ride when they can.
Also, I’ve been thinking about buying a Nashbar Singlespeed 29er mountain bike. It would be fun to go singlespeeding from time to time, but the main purpose of it would be to ride with my kids on the bike path. Check it out at this link – Nashbar Single-Speed 29er – and let me know what you think? Is it a good deal? Do you think it’s a good bike? Why don’t you buy one and write a review for me! 😉