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  1. #1
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    Gonna try endurance racing...how to train?

    What kind of change to training do I need to make if I want to focus on long races (5-18 hours)?

    I've been XC racing for 15+ years on and off, mostly 1-2 hour races. Traditional training methods usually.

    Do I need to ride 5-6 hours at a time every so often?

    Thanks.
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  2. #2
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    I'm going to resist shooting my mouth off because you've got a lot more background racing XC than me, and I only have a few endurance races behind me - I maybe know more than someone coming from casual riding about how to get in shape, but I don't think that's what you're asking.

    Don't be afraid to ask over on the XC Racing/Training forum if you continue to get no joy here.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by tolleyman View Post
    What kind of change to training do I need to make if I want to focus on long races (5-18 hours)?

    I've been XC racing for 15+ years on and off, mostly 1-2 hour races. Traditional training methods usually.

    Do I need to ride 5-6 hours at a time every so often?

    Thanks.
    Of course.....

    Even longer....also back to back long rides work wonders.....

    You need to get the body accustomed to the long days on the saddle....and work out any fit problems as well.

  4. #4
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    Saddle time will be your best friend. Go out and try to keep your heart rate down and log long hours on the bike. One you get a pretty darn strong base start pushing harder.

    Nutrition is going to be the x factor so make sure you practice eating and drinking too. On those big races if you wait to long to fuel and hydrate and the cramps show up you are not going to be happy and will probalby bonk.

    I keep a watch on my bars and force myself to drink a water bottle an hour that also holds my calories. I learned the hard way by reeling people in and not paying attention to nutrition until it bit me in the ass. Hard to keep a good pace when you are cramping


    Quote Originally Posted by tolleyman View Post
    What kind of change to training do I need to make if I want to focus on long races (5-18 hours)?

    I've been XC racing for 15+ years on and off, mostly 1-2 hour races. Traditional training methods usually.

    Do I need to ride 5-6 hours at a time every so often?

    Thanks.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by tolleyman View Post
    What kind of change to training do I need to make if I want to focus on long races (5-18 hours)?

    I've been XC racing for 15+ years on and off, mostly 1-2 hour races. Traditional training methods usually.

    Do I need to ride 5-6 hours at a time every so often?

    Thanks.
    Need more background, how many hours do you ride a week on average? What are your goals in racing? What Cat do you currently race?

  6. #6
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    The challenge for me --also coming from many years of all out ~2 XC training --was riding slow. The long, slow distance is just a totally different mindset and I really never have gotten it down. I really got interested in endurance stuff when I got a 29er and, simultaneously, built up a single speed. The 29er seemed to allow me to ride longer and the single speed (I geared it small) forced me to spin which also allowed me to go longer.

    Initially, I was kept trying to just incrementally increase the distance I road without stopping at all. I sort of maxed out on that after about 18 months or so. I wound up doing rides where I would string together a couple of shorter rides with a 15 minute break between them and had better luck with that.

    I also found that I could ride all day under circumstance completely unlike what i would consider training. For example loaded touring/bike packing or just hopping on a rented bike with sneakers and heading down a never ending bike path. So you might try mixing that sort of stuff in.

    I hit a point where I was feeling pretty beat down by the Texas summer pretty much took 2 months of the bike with only the occasional 2 hour ride. I'm starting back up with the stringing together several short rides ...I honestly think an approach that allows you to hammer more is better if you have that XC hammer mindset.

  7. #7
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    First post/first endurance race

    Hi all. First-time poster.

    I just completed my first endurance race (10 hours,) after doing much shorter races years ago. There was a big break between the two of almost ten years while I was focusing on running exclusively, but a running injury brought me back to mountain biking.

    I trained for my first attempt with commuting to work, which was 2 hours a day on the road bike, plus another half hour to an hour of running when I got home. I did this 4 days a week, then usually a 2-3 hour ride (either mountain or road) on Saturday, and a 4-5 hour road ride on Sunday.

    I don't think it was enough. I survived 10 hours on the bike, did okay, but not great. I guess for a first attempt it wasn't too bad. If I end up doing this again, I think I'll have to longer rides on the weekends, most likely road centuries.

  8. #8
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    As you guessed, keep up your xc training, interspersed with occasional (much) longer rides. Personally, I never train past 7 hours, and it has served me well up to 11.5 hours (worst 100 mile mud-fest ever).

    I truly believe that the key to endurance racing success is being able to feel your aerobic limit, and developing the ability to hang just below it all day long. Data is nice, but for me at least, that limit in terms of HR is MUCH different at 10 hours than it was at 2 hours, so just picking some data point and trying to stick with it throughout the event just does not work.

    Conversely, the "feel" of that limit never changes for me all day, be it 160 bpm or 140 bpm.
    The drive towards achievement and success is the motive power of civilization.

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    Wondering how long it takes everyone to recover? A week after my first endurance race, I feel physically recovered (fortunately, this doesn't tear your body to shreds like marathons,) but I just don't feel like riding anymore.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Golden_Monkey View Post
    Wondering how long it takes everyone to recover? A week after my first endurance race, I feel physically recovered (fortunately, this doesn't tear your body to shreds like marathons,) but I just don't feel like riding anymore.
    It varies widely for me from race to race. Sometimes I can't wait to get back on the bike for some long, mellow recreational rides. Sometimes it's time for alternate activities.

    I key my "season" around one or two events, so I have the luxury of not really having any strong reason to continue with structured training. If you're always a month away from the next event, that approach obviously won't work.

    In any event, I recommend the first week back on the bike emphasizes enjoyment of the fitness you have attained!
    The drive towards achievement and success is the motive power of civilization.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Golden_Monkey View Post
    Wondering how long it takes everyone to recover? A week after my first endurance race, I feel physically recovered (fortunately, this doesn't tear your body to shreds like marathons,) but I just don't feel like riding anymore.
    Physically, I felt fine after my last one. Looking back at my log, it looks like I ran some errands by bike the next day and felt a little bit stiff. But I was back at my usual things that week. However, I didn't get any more Omnium points on the track afterwards. There were only two races left anyway, so not a big deal.

    I've managed to get a bit of a peak leading into my big August race the last two seasons, and my fitness has been... not so great afterwards, both times. I haven't been following a periodized plan very well, but I'm trying again this coming year. I hope that if I do better base and build some recovery and plan ahead to retool after my 'A' race, I can have a stronger 'cross season. I also need to decide if I care, and really commit.

    One of the things that probably contributed to my not being that strong at 'cross was that the weather was still really nice and I hadn't necessarily been riding with my friends that much while I was training for my big race. Afterwards, I got back in touch with everybody and got in a last few really nice rides. If you read the Fat Cyclist blog, he has one entry about how the tail end of summer/early Fall period is the most fun for cycling because he has already done all the events he was training for, the weather's still nice, and he's still in good aerobic shape from a summer of training and racing. Really preparing for 'cross and taking full advantage of that period are in conflict with each other, at least for me, and I was having a lot of fun just enjoying riding in the remaining nice weather and with my friends. I could probably come up with a better compromise - midweek intervals and long rides with my friends on the weekends, for example. But I like to ride with my friends, and wouldn't want to give that up over 'cross.
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  12. #12
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    Thanks for this post, as I'm kinda in a similar situation. I'm planning on returning to XC racing after about 10 years off (I'm 38). I spent the last year getting myself fit again, running 3-4 times a week and riding 2-3 times, paddling SUP or swimming daily in the summer. With my 4 year old daughter, I started racing BMX this year, too.

    I like the idea of one longer ride a week, as it goes with the timing with work and family, but want to figure out other fitness workouts that are much more "time-efficient" during the week.

    Hope this isn't hijacking, just trying to get in some other ideas since I'm planning on my first mtb 100 miler in May in New York and want to do it strong (and maybe as an SS rider, as it's my only mtb these days).

  13. #13
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    There's some good info in this thread and I would love to hear more from some of the expirienced guys. I'm a mid pack Cat 1 XC racer who is gearing up for two 100 mile mtb races. I just signed up for the Wilcat Epic 100 in May and plan on taking a break mid season then gearing up again for the Hampshire 100 in August. I'm going to follow a periodized program for each event. My question is how often should I be doing long rides? I'm thinking a century on the road once a week with 2-4 hr mountain bike rides mixed in. I have done D2R2 which is a 180k dirt road ride with 16,000' of climbing, so I'm not afraid of finishing.

    For the more expirienced riders, how are you preparing?

    Any advice is appreciated...THANKS!!
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrob1775 View Post
    I'm thinking a century on the road once a week with 2-4 hr mountain bike rides mixed in.
    That's exactly what I wish I had done. I was doing a 70 mile road ride every Sunday (riding out to a club ride of 36 miles, then riding back,) and I wish I had extended it to a century at least once. I think it would have been wise to do an organized, supported century ride as a training milestone, at least for psychological reasons. My mileage really slacked off as the race approached because I started a new job and kinda lost focus. Getting myself out the door for a century ride every week would have been rough as far as motivation goes. I had enough trouble forcing myself through the 70-miler every week.

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    There is a gravel century in CT in april that I think will be a good litmus test for the Wildcat.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrob1775 View Post
    There's some good info in this thread and I would love to hear more from some of the expirienced guys. I'm a mid pack Cat 1 XC racer who is gearing up for two 100 mile mtb races. I just signed up for the Wilcat Epic 100 in May and plan on taking a break mid season then gearing up again for the Hampshire 100 in August. I'm going to follow a periodized program for each event. My question is how often should I be doing long rides? I'm thinking a century on the road once a week with 2-4 hr mountain bike rides mixed in. I have done D2R2 which is a 180k dirt road ride with 16,000' of climbing, so I'm not afraid of finishing.

    For the more expirienced riders, how are you preparing?

    Any advice is appreciated...THANKS!!

    If you have time and the logistics work out, the more of your mileage you can do off-road, the better IMO. Granted it's harder to follow structured workouts that way, but if I were to choose one type of ride to do on-road in training for off-road events, it would be the high intensity intervals.

    One of the problems people often have as the day wears on doing endurance MTB racing is just continuing to ride and handle a mountain bike on trails. I think that's all about core and upper body endurance that's not really applicable on the road.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrob1775 View Post
    There's some good info in this thread and I would love to hear more from some of the expirienced guys. I'm a mid pack Cat 1 XC racer who is gearing up for two 100 mile mtb races. I just signed up for the Wilcat Epic 100 in May and plan on taking a break mid season then gearing up again for the Hampshire 100 in August. I'm going to follow a periodized program for each event. My question is how often should I be doing long rides? I'm thinking a century on the road once a week with 2-4 hr mountain bike rides mixed in. I have done D2R2 which is a 180k dirt road ride with 16,000' of climbing, so I'm not afraid of finishing.

    For the more expirienced riders, how are you preparing?

    Any advice is appreciated...THANKS!!
    First, a caveat I'm old, heavier than I should be and slow. But I have been doing endurance things of different kinds for over 40 years now. I definitely know most of the wrong ways to train...

    There is nothing like doing a long ride for getting good at long rides. The closer that ride resembles your goal ride the more results you will see. The way I think of it is that I am
    training to train. The goal of your "regular" rides should be to enable you to recover more quickly from your real training ride. You don't do another real training ride until you've recovered from the last one.

    It is much more important to focus on the quality of training rather than quantity. That doesn't mean every ride is hard, but that every ride has a goal and you focus on making that goal. If the goal is to ride 4 hours and still feel relatively fresh the next day, then
    even if you set some kind of PR on the ride ( mileage elevation), you haven't done quality training if you aren't fresh the next day.

    If I were you, I'd focus on a greater period between big efforts, but make those efforts a better simulation of your goal. For instance, a 50 mile MTB race once a month would be a much better simulation than 2 road centuries. There's a lot you need to suss out about nutrition and pacing that can't really be simulated in training.

    You do need to increase the workload, but the tricky part is knowing when to back off. Training should always be at some level fun. Maybe type II fun, but still fun.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by mvwmvw View Post
    There is a gravel century in CT in april that I think will be a good litmus test for the Wildcat.
    That sounds like a great idea! I also do D2R2 so a gravel century in April would be perfect. What's the name of it?
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  19. #19
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    The detour de Connecticut. Website is the same I ink. Near willimantic... Which means brewery...

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Golden_Monkey View Post
    Wondering how long it takes everyone to recover? A week after my first endurance race, I feel physically recovered (fortunately, this doesn't tear your body to shreds like marathons,) but I just don't feel like riding anymore.

    You mean running marathons or bike marathons? I've only ever done one running marathon but I can say it felt like a piece of cake compared to 24 hour mtb races, in terms of the tiredness I got from each.
    "Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional"

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  21. #21
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    My question is how often should I be doing long rides? I'm thinking a century on the road once a week with 2-4 hr mountain bike rides mixed in.
    I wouldn't do a century EVERY week. I prefer doing one big weekend of say 7 hours one day and 4-5 the other day, and then taking it slightly easier the next weekend (with maybe 6 hours total). So about every 2-3 weeks I think Its good to have a high volume weekend, with lots of climbing. I think you get more out of it if you allow more than a week to recover from a big weekend, but everyone's different.
    One thing that helps me too is doing some 3 hour or so rides and really staying focused on putting out the same intensity for the whole ride, so just focusing on a 7/10 intensity, if thats what you plan on putting out for your 100 mile races, or 6 or whatever. Helps me get in the mindset and focus on how I want to feel during the race.
    "Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional"

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