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The first thing to do is to decide what you want to achieve. This goal is a personal
target, but make sure it is also specific, challenging, attainable, and measurable.
The next step is to assess your own fitness levels and see where the shortfalls are.
Assessing your fitness can be a tricky not to mention expensive affair. The most
accurate way is to perform a battery of laboratory tests, but this usually only the
preserve of the pros and their training budgets.
A more practical way is to assess last seasons racing. Think back to races and make
a mental note of where you lost places or got overtaken. Is there a pattern? Is it
always on the hills or the flats? Do you get a sinking feeling in your stomach when
you approach a climb? Do you start spouting excuses when your riding buddies ask
if you want to join them on an endurance ride? If so, then these will no doubt be
your weak areas. A good rule of thumb is that if you don’t like doing a certain aspect
of riding then you can bet that it is one of your weak areas. Better still get somebody
else to assess your performance, they may give you an objective view and uncover
an aspect you hadn’t even thought about. Make sure to write all of this information
down in a training diary.
You now need to go out and perform some simple tests which can be used to monitor
your progress. Such tests may include:
With all that planning and testing done it is now time to get out on the bike and
train. During this phase we shall concentrate on achieving a sound endurance base
which will pay dividends later on. Your training can be viewed as a pyramid, with
the foundation phase being the base. The broader the base of the pyramid, the higher
the peak it can support. The same is true of training; you will achieve a higher
peak condition in the summer if you pay your training dues in the foundation phase.
The majority of your training will be in the form of extensive endurance rides punctuated
with some anaerobic (intense) work. An example is as follows:
HR = heart rate. (Use 220 – age for maximum HR if you don’t know it)
Of course this programme will not suit everyone’s needs and may not fit into your
schedule. Don’t worry, it is not written in stone, you are free to alter it to suit
your requirements – just don’t perform to similar workouts on consecutive days.
So, if you want to do well next season your training should start now. Otherwise
you’ll be playing catch-up with your workouts and worse still you’ll be playing catch-up
during the races.
John Metcalfe is a mountainbike physiologist,
regular mtb magazine contributor and avid racer. In order to pay the bills he is
also a Sports Science Lecturer. So hassle him if you don’t agree with the 220 minus