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**How To

Tuesday Training: Turning up the heat

Now it might be the middle of April, and the clocks may only have just changed but in terms of fitness preparation we’re already a long way into the year.

Not least you’ve only got 9 weeks left to get ready if you’re one of the many riders doing the Red Bull. If 9 weeks still sounds like a long time, then break it down to two more 3 week on, 1 week off training sets, and that gives folk training once a week just six more sessions before lining up on the start in Birmingham.

If you’ve been following the plan so far, then don’t panic. You’ve hopefully built up an excellent endurance base that will get you through those grim late night and early morning laps.

All we need to do now is bolt on some speed and power for zapping up the climbs and diving into the singletrack before that damned roadie who held you back on the last bit gets there first!

The weekly plan

With only a couple of months to go before our Red Bull target, it’s time to start training those muscles to move your mass at serious speed.

“Only half a minute but a whole lot of hell” What?

Speed costs – and this is where you start paying!

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 it as hard as you possibly can for 30 seconds. Check how far that gets you.

Turn round immediately and roll back down the hill to where you started. Turn round again and sprint back up again like your life depends on it.

If you train once midweek, do three sprints up the hill, then rest for ten minutes before doing another three.

If you train twice midweek do four sprints up the hill, then rest for eight minutes before doing another four.

If you train / ride hard more than twice midweek do five sprints up the hill, then rest for five minutes before doing another five.

Now ride home gently, weeping quietly to yourself if necessary, but as soon as you can stomach it get a banana, energy drink / bar down your neck and follow it up with your main meal asap.

Words of Warning

This session will hurt. A lot. That’s why it works. Sprint every sprint as hard as you can for the full 30 seconds to get maximum benefit. Don’t go pacing yourself so you can manage every one, it’s much better to be on your knees and go home early than find you’ve still energy left at the end because you’ve been soft pedalling.

However if you physically throw up, or are falling a long way short of the distance you ‘set’ on your first sprint then it’s time to wobble home. Training is only worth doing when you’re still working effectively rather than flogging a dead horse.


Up till now we’ve been working within the efficient aerobic limits of your body, this session takes you beyond that, to where you’re burning fuel without enough oxygen to keep the process ‘clean’. This gives maximum power but it also creates a lot of lactic acid and other waste products and that means pain (normally becoming really savage at the 15 – 20 second mark). You’ll also exhaust fuel supplies very quickly leaving your legs feeling like rubber and your lower lip wobbling.

Repeating sprints of this intensity allows you to spend more time at this pain threshold than just doing it the once, and it also trains your body to cope with getting rid of the lactic acid as quickly as possible. You’ll also never get this kind of rapid successive effort in a race, which means however bad you feel on the day of reckoning at least you can console yourself that it isn’t as bad as the sessions that b*st*rd Coach potato made you do!


Ideally you need a steady gradient hill that means you can just get going on in about middle ring middle sprocket and finish spinning without having to change gear at the top. You’ll also want it traffic-clear so you can turn round again straight away.

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 it really hurts 😉


This session is particularly nasty, so it’s best done when you’re feeling fresh. That doesn’t mean copping out at any available excuse though. The good thing is that once you’re out there it doesn’t actually take long at all, so you could even fit it into a lunch break (but not straight after lunch!).

Rest of the week

If you’re on a twice-a-week routine and you’ve just got a normal week and weekend ride ahead of you, then put the boot in again later in the week with a repeat of the “Pyramisery” session we did two weeks ago. If you’re going to the Fat Tyre Festival at Coed-y-Brenin then take it easy on Thursday with a gentle recovery ride, then give those Welsh hills hell at the weekend.

Coach Potato’s fit chip tips Event Preparation

Old wizened men in faded baggy lycra (and younger blokes who are obviously going to end up that way) will always tell you there’s “no better training for racing than racing”. While their dress sense might be in question their advice actually has some worth. You’ll never push yourself as hard for as long on a wet weeknight as you will in a real race.

The key is choosing the right event, so if you’re preparing for Red Bull, then you’ll need to chose a more endurance based event. A couple of years ago this would have been really hard, but this year there are plenty of excellent primer events to choose from. The Fat tyre Festival at Coed-Y-Brenin this weekend has two days of technical singletrack riding up and down the side of Welsh mountains, and the Dyfi Enduro organisers have a similar day planned. The Karrimor 6 hour is a proper Enduro race format, while if you fancy a more sociable slog then Trailbreak normally have plenty on offer.

Remember every bit of hurt and hunger that you get under your belt now will make things a lot easier later.

Next week
We promise we won’t be inflicting the ‘half a minute of hell’ on you again next week, but we’ll still be pressing on with our speed training. Any more than that and I’d be giving the game away.


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