We kicked off the serious speed building part of our training plan last week, with some serious misery and suffering. This week we’re still keeping the accelerator pressed down hard but you’ll be pleased to hear the session won’t be as crippling.The weekly plan
There are times on your bike when nothing short of immediate delivery of maximum sprint power will get you up or over a particular section, or past a particular adversary. Your body will struggle to dump this much power down in one lump though, unless you’re on a serious adrenaline hit.
The following session trains the nervous and muscular systems of your body to deliver maximum power very quickly, without drowning you in all the panic-stricken side effects of adrenaline. In fact if you do it right, it won’t even really hurt at all.“Top ten” What?
Warm up gradually for ten minutes as usual and then find a hill (or as close to a hill as you can get). Set your stopwatch and then sprint up the hill as hard as you possibly can for 10 seconds. Check how far that gets you.
Turn round and meander back down the hill to where you started from. You’ve got 2 minutes 50 seconds between sprints so you can wander about in slow circles till it’s time to go again. As soon as the clock hits 3 minutes since the start of the last sprint, hammer in another 10 second sprint. Turn round again and sprint back up again like your life depends on it.
If you train once midweek, do six sprints.
If you train twice midweek do nine sprints up the hill.
If you train / ride hard more than twice midweek do a dozen sprints up the hill.
Then that’s it, you’re done. No “rest for a bit and go again” just sit down and twiddle home gently.
Resist the temptation to sprint after pizza mopeds but get a banana, energy drink / bar down your neck as soon as possible instead. If you’ve done it right, spinning home should be trouble free but standing up on the pedals or running up stairs will reveal slightly empty, wobbly legs.Why?
The idea of this session is to train your body to use the very responsive phosphate exchange ‘fuel system’. However, keeping the sprints shorter than the time it takes lactate to build up, means that you can repeat the sprint several times. It also means you won’t empty your fuel reserves so you’ll be fresh for the next session.Where?
Ideally you need a steady gradient hill that means you can just get going in big ring middle sprocket and finish spinning without having to change gear by the end. You might be surprised at just how far you get in ten seconds though, so leave plenty of room.
We’ve got a clearing in a gently sloped wood that works perfectly as you can spend the 3 minutes ‘down’ time swinging back through the singletrack to the start point. If you haven’t got a hill then you’ll just have to do it on the flat but keep changing up gears to make sure you’re going as hard as possible.
This session is short, fast and not that taxing on your body as a whole so it can be done whenever you can fit it in.
Rest of the week
Even if you normally only train once during the week, this time make a real effort to fit an extra session in. To make it easier on your brain we’ll stick to a session you know well already so roll up your sleeves for “The not quite ow hour”.
We’ve had a few comments from folk who are heartily sick of magazine and website articles that rattle on as though everyone was doing the Red Bull 24hr mountain marathon this year. The fact is that only 1500 or so riders will be setting off round the West Bromwich course leaving the vast majority of the country’s bikers to have a proper weekend’s sleep.
The reason we hung our training plan on this event are two-fold though. For a start, most of our training guinea pigs were possibly thinking of doing the ‘Bull when we asked them earlier this year. Secondly, the all-round fitness you need for an endurance event like this is also ideal for those long summer day rides, or even the odd short course race.
So basically we don’t care whatever you do with your new speed and endurance fitness, as long as you use it as a useful tool to extract more enjoyment from your mountain biking with.
It’s the last hard week of our current training phase, so be ready for more fast and loose Fartlek action. We might even explain what Fartlek means at some point!