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  1. #1
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    Endurance training using only short rides?

    I signed up for a 6-hour race as a challenge. The problem is that my schedule only permits training rides of around 2 hours each. On some occasions I may be able to do 3 or 4 hours, but this is rare.

    Last fall I did an organized 67-mile ride (not a race) with aid stations. I typically do two or three 2-hour rides a week. To prepare for the 67-mile ride I increased the frequency of rides and did some occasional bike commuting just to get in more weekly mileage, but still wasn't able to do long training rides. I was okay for the first 40 miles or so of the epic, but the last 20 got hard, and the last 10 were grueling.

    Is it possible to train for a 6-hour effort using only short rides? Other than increasing ride frequency, are there other things I can do, like hill repeats, intervals, road riding, trail running, etc., that might help?

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    I do HIIT Workouts (High Intensity Interval Training), After you ride or when you wake up in the morning try to incorporate some other training into your schedule. These workouts are short but super effective. I think its the greatest way to cross train for endurance racing. You can look for a few on youtube to do for free. You only need your body weight and maybe a couple light dumbells, but cross training has really helped me get strong. It got me a second place finish at 12 hours of old El paso. I felt really good for my entire ride. Running is also a great way to strengthen your legs, when you run it activates your hamstrings seven times more than just pedaling. I try to go on at least one 13 mile run a week. And a 6 mile run on two other days. I always mix my schedule week to week to keep my muscles confused. Don't do the same thing over an over. Maybe this will give you some ideas?

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    Thanks, those are some good ideas. I already do strength training and some running, including some hard intervals on the treadmill. Actually, I probably do too much strength training, because it often leaves my legs feeling dead and fatigued for my bike rides. During the winter I was focusing on strength (and some hypertrophy) workouts, now I'm backing off on the strength training and doing more cycling and running. My gym workouts are now more core-focused (stuff like Turkish get-ups, kettlebell windmills, plank variations, and unilateral weight lifting) and more bodyweight stuff (pullup, pushups, inverted rows).

    It sounds like I'm on the right track. I just need to add some intervals on the bike and some more running (I just started running again after not doing it for a couple of years).

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    Try and squeeze in some riding at every opportunity. Commuting can make for excellent training. I would say 90% of my training comes from commuting. My commutes are 1hr each way so thats 2hrs of on the bike training each day. Also try and squeeze in some core work. It really does make a difference, especially on longer rides/races. When you have the opportunity for those occasional 3-4hr rides take advantage of them because they will make a big difference. Every bit and maybe even more important will be your nutrition. Last year I started using "Infinit Nutrition" and have been really impressed with it. It takes virtually all of the guess work out of it "for me" at least. I just have to make sure I drink 1 bottle of Infinit per hour and if I need more fluid during that hour I just drink plain water.

  6. #6
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    Endurance training using only short rides?

    Two 2-hour rides (one EZ/recovery, one tempo) plus an hour hard spin on a trainer or in a class and a 3-4 hour ride on the weekend will be more than enough, i think.
    Last edited by Scott In MD; 02-18-2013 at 08:16 PM.

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    Is this the EX2 at Rosaryville.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nov0798 View Post
    Is this the EX2 at Rosaryville.
    Yep. Maybe I should have signed up for the 3-hour option, but I wanted a challenge.

  9. #9
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    I know a few folks who've done sub-14 hours on SS @ DirtyKanza w/ only one or two training rides over 4 hours.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mudge View Post
    I know a few folks who've done sub-14 hours on SS @ DirtyKanza w/ only one or two training rides over 4 hours.
    That's pretty impressive.

    My experience from marathon training, and from epic bike rides, is that my body seems to "remember" the last long run/ride that I did, and anything longer than that gets really hard. For example, let's say I'm building up to run a marathon, and my longest run was 12 miles. If a week or two later I increase that to 14 miles, the first 12 are not bad, but at that point it gets really difficult and those extra 2 miles are painful. Then the next time, I'm okay up to 14 miles, but any miles over that are really hard.

    It is similar for cycling. If my longest ride has been 25 miles, then anything more than that gets tough.

    I did manage to get out on the trails for about 4 hours on Sunday, but they were very technical so I ended up doing a lot of hiking and didn't cover many miles. For the enduro training I would have been better off on easier trails where I would have been pedaling a lot more of the time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jabrabu View Post
    That's pretty impressive.

    My experience from marathon training, and from epic bike rides, is that my body seems to "remember" the last long run/ride that I did, and anything longer than that gets really hard. For example, let's say I'm building up to run a marathon, and my longest run was 12 miles. If a week or two later I increase that to 14 miles, the first 12 are not bad, but at that point it gets really difficult and those extra 2 miles are painful. Then the next time, I'm okay up to 14 miles, but any miles over that are really hard.

    It is similar for cycling. If my longest ride has been 25 miles, then anything more than that gets tough.

    I did manage to get out on the trails for about 4 hours on Sunday, but they were very technical so I ended up doing a lot of hiking and didn't cover many miles. For the enduro training I would have been better off on easier trails where I would have been pedaling a lot more of the time.
    I have to agree in a big way. Over the years I have found that it really helps to do the race distance the weekend ahead of time at an easier pace.
    People talk about muscle memory, but my personal theory is that your entire athletic body system has memory. As an anecdotal example, I have always been a long distance guy, but a few years ago I decided to do a road criterium. Embarassing is an understatement. Doing 100 miles on the road wasn't even a workout, but I could not make it through the first lap with the pack.
    A friend suggested doing intervals on the trainer, and group rides with people faster than me...inside of two months, my next crit I was able to stay in the pack the whole race. I wasn't "in better shape" but I had trained my muscles and system to handle the higher intensity in a fairly short time.
    I would guess if you went out and did a road criterium with what you describe as your training, you might do well if your intensity is high enough.
    I am somewhat in the same boat as you right now. I have a kid these days, long days in the saddle are few and far between, and it is hard enough to get away for a day to do a 100 miler on dirt, much less squeeze in another one on the weekend prior. However, if you really want to perform well, you have to get creative. Go to bed early, and get up at 2am and head out. Ride from 3 to 11AM if you can negotiate that.
    When it comes to training to a level to allow you to be fit for long distance, while holding down a full time job, perhaps kids, marriage, etc, it is tough, and you have to get creative, but the unfortunate answer is that you cant make up shape to do a long distance ride with 45 minute workouts on the trainer, any less than you could train to do a 1 hour XC race when you are at redline the whole time by going out cruising the local trails at a snails pace all day.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Benajah View Post
    I have to agree in a big way. Over the years I have found that it really helps to do the race distance the weekend ahead of time at an easier pace.
    People talk about muscle memory, but my personal theory is that your entire athletic body system has memory. As an anecdotal example, I have always been a long distance guy, but a few years ago I decided to do a road criterium. Embarassing is an understatement. Doing 100 miles on the road wasn't even a workout, but I could not make it through the first lap with the pack.
    A friend suggested doing intervals on the trainer, and group rides with people faster than me...inside of two months, my next crit I was able to stay in the pack the whole race. I wasn't "in better shape" but I had trained my muscles and system to handle the higher intensity in a fairly short time.
    I would guess if you went out and did a road criterium with what you describe as your training, you might do well if your intensity is high enough.
    I am somewhat in the same boat as you right now. I have a kid these days, long days in the saddle are few and far between, and it is hard enough to get away for a day to do a 100 miler on dirt, much less squeeze in another one on the weekend prior. However, if you really want to perform well, you have to get creative. Go to bed early, and get up at 2am and head out. Ride from 3 to 11AM if you can negotiate that.
    When it comes to training to a level to allow you to be fit for long distance, while holding down a full time job, perhaps kids, marriage, etc, it is tough, and you have to get creative, but the unfortunate answer is that you cant make up shape to do a long distance ride with 45 minute workouts on the trainer, any less than you could train to do a 1 hour XC race when you are at redline the whole time by going out cruising the local trails at a snails pace all day.
    The current rage in marathon training is shorter, faster runs, not lots of distance. Plenty of folks are running marathons on 8-10 mile training runs.

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    Re: Endurance training using only short rides?

    I've bought the Time Crunched Cyclist because I'm in a similar predicament. My A race is a 50-miler that I just can't seem to bring my time down on. Time Crunched Cyclist is all about high intensity/low volume to achieve the same fitness benefits as high volume training. The caviat is that you have a shorter window of peak fitness to work with. I'm not too sure if I have the discipline to stick to such a strict regimen, but it is good knowledge that I'll try to incorporate.

    Sent from my XT907 using Tapatalk 2

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    A friend suggested doing intervals on the trainer, and group rides with people faster than me...inside of two months, my next crit I was able to stay in the pack the whole race. I wasn't "in better shape" but I had trained my muscles and system to handle the higher intensity in a fairly short time.

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    I'm glad you posted this, as I was reading here because I am participating int he Dk200 this year on a fixed 29er. Once it warms up I'll be doing 3 hour rides several times a week and 5+ hour rides on sundays, as that is what my work schedule will allow. I was fearing that it wouldn't be enough, but sounds like it might be.
    Registered pedalphile.

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    I have done something very similar to this. I raced a 12 hour solo and I had never ridden 100 miles on or off the mountain bike. My longest ride was usually 3 hours on the road bike. I am mainly an xc racer so short very intense rides in the summer is what I do. I ended up riding 93 miles that day without any problems and that was my longest ride to date. Riding when you can is very important, commuting will help you gain a good base, and then pile on the intensity after you gain the good base. I paced myself, ate very healthy, consumed lots of fluids, and had a good day. Nutrition and pacing yourself is just as important, if not more important, than the training itself. Know your limits and prepare yourself with the time you have. You cannot ask for more than that from yourself.
    There is not much choice between rotten apples.

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    I am new to mountain bike racing but not new to endurance training. I agree with a lot of what has been said here. Long slow distance (LSD) is king (assuming you a completely healthy) especially early in your training cycle/career. Also, remember that LSD is cumulative, so you can either do a lot of short workouts or a few longer ones. I prefer the former. once you have built a good base you can get good results from shorter more focused workouts mixed in a couple times per week. The risk though is overtraining. Without a good base, those intense workouts will take longer to fully recover from and reduce your overall training time, which results in a plateau and maybe burnout. The best guys still do tons of volume AND speed workouts, BUT they can handle that from years of training and have a very high base level of fitness which allows them to recover quickly. The conventional wisdom is that you can build over many years of gradual low intensity, high volume work, but going the high intensity work will cause you to peak close to your current level of fitness.

    I'm training for a 62 miler in August and my rough plan is to commute 2-4 days per week (9 miles each way), 1 longer easy run and maybe a shorter tougher hill run on the other weekdays, and lifting 1-2 days (nothing crazy though, like one or two sets of 12-15 reps, a couple major muscle groups, light weights. more for injury prevention, and muscle balance). Then on the weekends I will try to get one longer offroad ride for 2-3 hours, and maybe a long slow casual bike path ride or hike with my wife, or if I can sneak away, a short, fun trail ride. Swimming would be a great recovery day too, but I no longer have a membership to the pool.

    If you are feeling tired, sick, stiff, burned out etc. don't be afraid to cut your volume way back or crosstrain until you feel fresh again. The single biggest mistake I used to make in my competitive career was OVERTRAINING. Knowing when to scale back a little will give you more training days in the end and make the whole process more enjoyable too. Consistency and a positive attitude will win in the long run, so make sure you can maintain those two things!

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by mudge View Post
    The current rage in marathon training is shorter, faster runs, not lots of distance. Plenty of folks are running marathons on 8-10 mile training runs.
    If you've been around long enough, you'll realize that this is as much fashion as function. Endurance training goes through cycles of LSD vs intervals. The thing is that everything works for SOMEBODY and nothing works for EVERYBODY.

    If you want to finish w/o going too far into the suffer box, I've found that for me, there simply is no substitute for at least a few rides of the length (time ) you expect to ride in the event.

    If you've got limited time, intervals do offer the most bang for the buck, but it's really easy to get injured/overtrain if all you do is speed work. A lot depends on whether you've already got the 2-3 years of endurance training in the bank. If you do, intervals and intensity can keep you where you're at. However, if you haven't done the training that creates the long term adaptions that come from endurance training, intervals will never get you there.

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    I too have a very tight schedule so this threat had some great reading for me. I may try to look up that book: The Time Crunched Cyclist.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bbense View Post
    If you've been around long enough, you'll realize that this is as much fashion as function. Endurance training goes through cycles of LSD vs intervals. The thing is that everything works for SOMEBODY and nothing works for EVERYBODY.

    If you want to finish w/o going too far into the suffer box, I've found that for me, there simply is no substitute for at least a few rides of the length (time ) you expect to ride in the event.

    If you've got limited time, intervals do offer the most bang for the buck, but it's really easy to get injured/overtrain if all you do is speed work. A lot depends on whether you've already got the 2-3 years of endurance training in the bank. If you do, intervals and intensity can keep you where you're at. However, if you haven't done the training that creates the long term adaptions that come from endurance training, intervals will never get you there.
    All very good points, most of which I agree with. However, wasn't talking about what works for me, but rather answering the question the OP posited. I know that's sometimes a strange, unexpected response on most forum threads (answering the question, that is) but that's all I was doing. I don't want the OP to believe that just because he can't squeeze in more than 2 hr rides he shouldn't at least try the 6 hr event.

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    Endurance training using only short rides?

    Quote Originally Posted by mudge View Post
    Plenty of folks are running marathons on 8-10 mile training runs.
    Before i call BS, I'll ask .... You want this back, or are you sticking to it? (In my personal experience, prepping for a six hour bike race with four hour training rides is very do-able.... Prepping for a marathon on ten mile training runs would be a disaster.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott In MD View Post
    Before i call BS, I'll ask .... You want this back, or are you sticking to it? (In my personal experience, prepping for a six hour bike race with four hour training rides is very do-able.... Prepping for a marathon on ten mile training runs would be a disaster.)
    A google search confirms the 8-10 mile runs training plan for marathoners. Here's a link from page 1 of the search results
    Less road time may lead to better marathon training - Roanoke.com
    But I notice they still plan on a long run once per week.
    I am not a runner at all, so I have no valuable input to this claim.

    As far as Time Crunched Cyclist, the majority of the rides for the Endurance Plan are still 90 minutes or less with more emphasis on long intervals rather than short explosive ones. But it does call for relatively long rides on the weekends. The author also spends quite a bit of time justifying why the Time Crunched program works and why it is possible to deliver similar benefits as a high volume plan. He gives a lot of physiological justification, but sums it up well with the metaphor "a rising tide raises all boats."

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    An earlier poster mentioned LSD being cumulative. A guy on my road club I know does a lot of longish road races, is a Cat 3 on road, but due to his job and kids and things rarely can spare more than an hour to work out at a time during the week so what he does is spends an hour on the trainer in the morning, a quicky ride at lunch maybe 45 minutes, and another hour on the trainer at night.
    If you assume an hour on a trainer equalling maybe 1.5 hours on the road, he is managing to squeeze in nearly 4 hours on a weekday as a working dad. Way, way more discipline than I have but it's pretty impressive time management. I have been trying to use his strategy but I just can't manage it.

    I have always hated the indoor trainer but this year decided to change my outlook and embrace it, and the results have been very positive.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott In MD View Post
    Before i call BS, I'll ask .... You want this back, or are you sticking to it? (In my personal experience, prepping for a six hour bike race with four hour training rides is very do-able.... Prepping for a marathon on ten mile training runs would be a disaster.)
    I'm not a runner (not anymore, anyway) but... I've run two marathons in my life. One by itself, the other at the end of an IM. For the plain ol' run, I didn't do a single run over 14 miles, but did a whole bunch of 8 mile runs. A whole bunch.

    Back in the mid-80s, while stationed in HI, I knew a guy who ran the Honolulu marathon on no training miles at all. None. It was the only day he ran all year long. He was super-fit from his training as an open-water lifeguard, which gave him the aerobic base he needed. Another guy, a staff sergeant in his early 40s who I served with, ran it three years in a row, wearing combat boots and carrying a rucksack. He never, ever ran more than 6-8 miles at a time. In fact, just about the only running he ever did was during morning PT. He could, as could many of my NCOs, walk forever carrying a ruck, so running with it wasn't that big a transition.

    It can be done.

    Now, as to the issue of shorter runs being all the rage, that's been addressed. You could also check recent issues of Runners World for info.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott In MD View Post
    Before i call BS, I'll ask .... You want this back, or are you sticking to it? (In my personal experience, prepping for a six hour bike race with four hour training rides is very do-able.... Prepping for a marathon on ten mile training runs would be a disaster.)
    Maybe for you. I could see it working if your goal is simply to finish a marathon. Might not be the best plan for an "off the couch" runner, but if you've got a solid background in endurance from another sport, it seems reasonable to me.

    Famous endurance racer once said

    "If you can run for an hour, you can run for 24 hours."

    And it's absolutely true. You just need to have a solid understanding of pacing, nutrition and some experience in the suffer box. Unless you've been there and through the other side, it's very difficult to know that there is an other side. Much of the training that occurs on long rides and runs is in the brain, not in the body.

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