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**How To

Coach Potato’s weekend enduro workout

There are three weekends left before the Schwinn 100 Marathon, and then a couple after that before the Newnham 90 event. These epic adventures promise to be an absolute blast but you need to be fit enough to finish and at least remember some of what happened.

Some of you may have been training specifically or a while, but even if you haven’t got round to it yet it’s not too late. As our resident Enduro expert Jon Brooke said in his Endurance training advice it’s being prepared for the distance mentally and pacing yourself correctly that makes more difference than outright fitness. That’s the theme we’re concetrating on here.

Ride smart

If you’re riding 100km you have to be sure that you are using your available fuel in the most efficient way. That means keeping everything aerobic – only working as hard as the oxygen supply allows. Go over that burn threshold and your body is burning energy 38 times faster than in it’s efficient state, and you’ll be destroyed in very short order.

As an example I often go training with Polaris / Trailquest / World Cup mountain bike orienteer Jon Houlihan. The first few rides I nailed every bit of technical climb and singletrack and grinned like a fool as Jon rode as far as he could up each one before he started struggling and then hopped off. Boy did I regret that smug sense of victory when my entire world collapsed at the foot of Rosedale Bank with at least another two hours whimpering crawl back home ahead of me.

Rev counting

Whether you’re using a pulse rate monitor or just ‘feeling’, get to know the points where your body starts to grumble.

The first one will occur around 70% of your maximum heart rate range and is the level at which conversation becomes strenuous and there’s the first hint of ache from your legs. This is the point at which your body starts to burn significant amounts of carbohydrate energy rather than just the fat reserves that can keep it going for days. In terms of endurance events this is your maximum cruising speed that you should try and stick to all day.

The second limit is your aerobic threshold. This will be about 80% of your maximum heart rate range and is the level just below where your legs really start to burn and breathing becomes laboured. It won’t take long to hit this level on climbs, but make sure you get as far down the gearbox as possible before it’s too late, and never stand on the pedals as that’s a sure fire way of pushing you over the edge.

Ride your own race

Keeping within preset limits might be easy when you’re out riding on your own but even in a ‘friendly event’ like the Schwinn 100 or Newnham 90 competitive urges can get the better of you. That’s where the next couple of weekends come in. For the rest of this month nothing matters except who gets to the top of the last climb of the day in the best condition. Don’t worry about clearing every technical climb, don’t worry if you get ‘gapped’ on the first big hill of the day. Don’t let them have a pop if you hop off.

Walking is far smarter than burning all that vital energy and if it means you come spinning happily past them – or just casually sit on their wheel – on the last climb of the day then you’ve cracked the real secret of enduro riding. Pacing and consistency.

Before you go out there this weekend two more points to consider:

We’ll be covering a basic re-fuelling plan before the race, but use these tune up rides to learn to eat. Not the chewing swallowing side of things – we hope you’ve got that right by now, but pacing your nosh so that the first food goes down well before you start to feel peckish and then get followed by more fuel at regular intervals. Again, don’t wait for others to declare a biccy break, keep checking your watch and keeping topping yourself up throughout the day. These last few rides are also your chance to try new food and energy drinks to see if they agree with you, as the last thing you want on the events themselves is a days worth of fodder that you can’t even bear to swallow after the first hour.

Last point is to make sure you warm down after your rides. Slowing your heart down suddenly when all your veins and arteries are still wide open and your muscles are still full of crap will cause blood pooling and massive aches and pains the next day. Do yourself a big favour and either skip the ‘finishing sprint’ or have a gentle five minute ride round after you get back to the car / home.

Have a good weekend and remember; ride smart = ride happy.


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