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  1. #1
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    training for first 50 Miler

    Hello,

    I am a fairly experienced AM rider who has decided to try my first 50 mile XC race/ride. The course has roughly 7000 feet of cumulative elevation gain. I currently ride 10-20 miles with roughly 1500-3000 feet of elevation gain 2-3 times per week.

    I am searching for a good source of training information to help me extend my range (road is not an option). Unfortunately all of the plans I have found are in the $100 range. I'd like to find something that cost less... Honestly free would be ideal but I'll look at other options. The goal is to finish comfortably, not first. All help will be appreciated.

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    Re: training for first 50 Miler

    If you ride 20 miles three times, that's already more than the goal distance.

    You could make yourself more comfortable on the day by working up to riding 38 miles on your training rides, two weeks before the event.

    Really, this is nothing you can't do yourself with Excel. There are some guidelines for increasing and distributing training volume.

    You can increase the length of your long ride and your total weekly volume by about 10% each, each week.

    Your longest ride should account for less than 50% of your total volume for the week.

    If you rode 75% of the event's length in training, you're good.

    Take an easy week every three weeks or so. That's about half the volume of your typical week.

    Don't do a long ride the weekend before your race. Don't just sit on your ass in those last two weeks either.

    You can work backwards from your event date to figure out what you need to be doing, and when you need to start increasing over your typical volume. I prefer to use time, but as long as you're consistent and the trails you'll race on aren't too different from your usual ones, it's no big whoop.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  3. #3
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    I'm pretty beat after 20 miles. Don't think I could make 40 much less 50. That said we usually move at a fairly brisk pace. Slowing it down a bit might help extend my current range.

    Thanks for the info. Ill set up. Spreadsheet this weekend.

  4. #4
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    training for first 50 Miler

    I'd spend that $100 on a HR monitor so that you can get a better understanding of what your HR Zones are and what your limit(s) are. This can be a great training tool, and also could be very helpful in pacing yourself so that you don't "burn too many matches" early on in the race.

    As others have said, sit down and work backwards to figure out when you need be at a certain mileage in preparation for your event. You can do it!

    Another key thing for you, as you're used to shorter distances, is your food/liquid intake. You will certainly need to dial in how much and when you need to eat in order to keep your energy and hydration levels up.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by plantdude View Post
    I'd spend that $100 on a HR monitor so that you can get a better understanding of what your HR Zones are and what your limit(s) are. This can be a great training tool, and also could be very helpful in pacing yourself so that you don't "burn too many matches" early on in the race.

    As others have said, sit down and work backwards to figure out when you need be at a certain mileage in preparation for your event. You can do it!

    Another key thing for you, as you're used to shorter distances, is your food/liquid intake. You will certainly need to dial in how much and when you need to eat in order to keep your energy and hydration levels up.
    +1 Great advice

    Just get out there and ride as well. The way you dial in nutrition is by experience, and you need to ride long distances to get that. Start by just increasing your long ride by 5 to 10 miles from what is now and just try to complete it, don't worry about speed. Go easy and just finish the distance. Keep creeping this up slowly until you are at or over your goal distance. Once you can ride the distance you can start worrying about getting faster at your goal distance.
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  6. #6
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    If your regular ride is 20-30 miles w/ 1500-3000ft elevation gain, then I would use that to train - figure out a lap route that you could do 3 times. Nutrition is key, you need to learn to eat and drink by time, not by when you feel hungry or thirsty.
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  7. #7
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    Others have said a lot of good stuff so I am mostly repeating

    No need for a crazy program, try to extend one ride a week longer and longer. If that isn't an option back to back 30+ mile rides will be a good alternative.

    Eating is very important, I had a 25-30 mile wall whenever I tried to go long. I then learned how important eating is. Eat early and often. Someone else may know better but I think 250-300 calories an hour is a good target.

    Pacing... Since you have a hard time getting the whole distance in start slower and after 3-4 hours if you still feel good pick it up. Once you get close to the distance you can start to worry about how to do it faster. I use the small ring for the beginning or races on my 2x10 to stop myself from going out to hard.

    Heart rate monitor. Super useful. Find your zones and train by them. I like to do lots of zone 3 and 4 since that is what I use mostly during endurance events

  8. #8
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    What the others have said, but for me my first fifty seemed almost impossible. After completing the fifty the first time all the jitters and "what ifs" went away. I Knew I could do it. It took me two tries, and now fifty is nothing. Here is what worked for me. Pacing, I would run hard and fast at first thinking I could ease up later and finish...Nope. Pick a good pace and resist the urge to go over it, no matter how you feel. Nutrition and fueling are a great importance, took me awhile to figure what worked for ME, not all my friends. Learning to spin properly and maintaining speed with little output is a key I feel. You can do it without heart monitors and fancy training guides but you need to be in tune with your body and know what it is saying to you. Knowing your body takes the psychological away and the mind games which could plague me. Every little cramp or pain no longer had me thinking or wondering I would complete it. One of the best things that worked for me was getting rid of my computer. No more numbers, distance, time or other bullcrap. Just me and the trail and it went way better.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by LB412 View Post
    (road is not an option)
    I like the way you think but dude riding 50 miles really isn't a big deal, racing 50 miles at max effort, well that's a whole other ball game. I wouldn't waste(sorry spend) a cent on a training plan I would just set your mind on riding longer once or twice a week and force yourself to slow up a bit if needed and make the distance don't be a ***** . You'll learn way more then just pacing yourself and getting yourself stronger. There's finding food or drinks that you can stomach through the whole event. You'll learn if you have a cramping wall you need to find a solution to clear if you indeed have this problem, you won't know till it happens. Ergonomics your bike may not be as comfortable as you thought after 40 miles.

    Start believing that you can do something and you'll make it happen. If you tell yourself 25 miles is my limit then your mind will create all kind of road blocks to make sure that it is. Do you have a buddy who likes to ride long, we can give a lot of insight on the trail first hand while we watch you suffer. I have a ton of experience when I comes to endurance and I love taking my friends out and letting them push their limits. I just pedal back and forth give some word of encouragement and advise and feed them a payday or salt tab when they realize they didn't bring enough food.

    I guess I'm kinda like a personal trainer to some but instead of money my fee just someone willing to ride with me and try hard. So basically just ride your bike longer and keep an open mind to what happens to you both body and mind as you go so you can understand it and learn from it.

    Oh and for any endurance thing if your self esteem ever drops and you feel like you want to quite or your not going to make it, trust me it will happen and you won't even notice it's onset till it's in full effect. When this happens drink half a coka cola it's like redbull and pepto bismol combined, it'll snap you out of your funk and the carbonation will settle your stomach. I know it sounds crazy but there's a reason way something we all know is terrible to consume is at every ultra event in the country.

  10. #10
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    Only other thing I would add with what has been said here is keep one of those rides a week intense if your body is feeling up to it, I have made the mistake in the past of dropping too many intensity days and as evryone here will tell you slow training slow race so don't be afrad to mix it up. A good interval for that type of ride is Tempo you have to adjust for you but 20 min at 80-85% Max HR 5 min rest (easy spin) and another 20 minute interval, push a harder gear than normal and adjust cadence during the interval. Can dial that back to 10 minutes if needed to start.

    And X2 on the Coca-Cola, always have a dollar in the saddle bag or camelbak when I do long road days or am linking multiple singeltracks together in case I come cross a soda machine, if nothing else it is a reward to push a little further harder the last couple of miles. I have grabbed it at endurace races when I get to rest stop and not sure waht I really want also, Wierd thing is I never drink soda off the bike not becuase it is bad for you just no desire unless I need a boost on rare occasion and don't want coffee.

    Actually take that back occasionally a spalsh in bourbon is nice!!!
    XC, Road, XXC, Endurance, Mtn, All-Mtn, Cross, Gravel, just go have fun on 2 wheels!

  11. #11
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    Slow down

    I've never raced in my life, but I ride 50 miles all the time with no special preparation, training or nutrition. And I'm really old. You must be riding too fast. Slow down and work your way up to greater distances.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wherewolf View Post
    I've never raced in my life, but I ride 50 miles all the time with no special preparation, training or nutrition. And I'm really old. You must be riding too fast. Slow down and work your way up to greater distances.
    I believe the OP is doing the same event as me. There are cut off times so you really need to balance the ride with going fast(er) and not blowing yourself up.

    At the same event a few years back I was on a SS and walked the really steep climbs at the beginning of the race. There were guys blowing past me and remember two guys looking at me chuckling. One guy said "he is going to have a long day".

    At the first check point one of the guys dropped out and a few miles later the other guy(and a few others) were sitting on the side of the trial with cramps. :-)

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by DeeZee View Post
    I believe the OP is doing the same event as me. There are cut off times so you really need to balance the ride with going fast(er) and not blowing yourself up.
    He said "I'm pretty beat after 20 miles." Therefore he must be riding too fast. 20 miles on a bike is pretty easy as long as you don't go all out. He needs some long rides, which build capillaries to supply oxygen to the muscles. If he can't make 20 miles now then he certainly can't race for 50 without working up to some longer rides first.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wherewolf View Post
    He said "I'm pretty beat after 20 miles." Therefore he must be riding too fast. 20 miles on a bike is pretty easy as long as you don't go all out. He needs some long rides, which build capillaries to supply oxygen to the muscles. If he can't make 20 miles now then he certainly can't race for 50 without working up to some longer rides first.
    Agree!...but I think you need both

  15. #15
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    Even when one tries to ride easy, a lot of elevation gain can make a ride pretty draining. The descending is work too. We don't know the OP's trails.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  16. #16
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    Just ride longer

    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    Even when one tries to ride easy, a lot of elevation gain can make a ride pretty draining. The descending is work too. We don't know the OP's trails.
    How many excuses you going to make? He just needs to do longer rides if he expects to race for 50 miles.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wherewolf View Post
    I've never raced in my life, but I ride 50 miles all the time with no special preparation, training or nutrition. And I'm really old. You must be riding too fast. Slow down and work your way up to greater distances.
    Sorry, I've seem way too many of your ride posts to buy that one. You do have lot's of "special preparation" required to do a 50 mile ride. It's doing lot's of long slow rides and slowly building the length of rides over time. Once you've built that aerobic base it can seem like 'no big deal' but you have to put in the work to build the base and have the mental confidence to just keep pedaling.

    A lot of endurance racing and riding is knowing that it gets better if you can just keep going through whatever is happening right now.

    My 2 cents, focus on time based training rather than distance. Work on one long ride at least every other week, focusing on riding the amount of time expected for the event. This will teach you about nutrition and pacing. My guess is that the OP is trashed after 20 miles because he's simply not eating and drinking enough. 20 miles ( or 2-3hrs ) is about the limit you can ride w/o a solid nutrition plan.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by bbense View Post
    It's doing lot's of long slow rides and slowly building the length of rides over time.
    No. Honestly this is terrible advice. Long slow rides to build a AEROBIC base? Long slow rides will only help you ride slow, longer. To gain a aerobic base you need to HIT your Tempo and LT ranges, riding slow WILL NOT DO THIS.

    Using (2-3) HIT sessions to target zone 4-5 and tossing in "one" zone 2 (70 -75% of max HR) ride a week is how you get faster and finish races strong.

    All I do is endurance races, nothing less than 100 miles. The misconception here is endurance racing is riding slow for a long time. Which is false.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    If you ride 20 miles three times, that's already more than the goal distance.

    You could make yourself more comfortable on the day by working up to riding 38 miles on your training rides, two weeks before the event.

    Really, this is nothing you can't do yourself with Excel. There are some guidelines for increasing and distributing training volume.

    You can increase the length of your long ride and your total weekly volume by about 10% each, each week.

    Your longest ride should account for less than 50% of your total volume for the week.

    If you rode 75% of the event's length in training, you're good.

    Take an easy week every three weeks or so. That's about half the volume of your typical week.

    Don't do a long ride the weekend before your race. Don't just sit on your ass in those last two weeks either.

    You can work backwards from your event date to figure out what you need to be doing, and when you need to start increasing over your typical volume. I prefer to use time, but as long as you're consistent and the trails you'll race on aren't too different from your usual ones, it's no big whoop.

    As a matter of fact, I am training for my first 50 miler (80k) race too! The quoted advice above makes good sense to me... as does all the discussion regarding eating/hydrating... Going to start my new spreadsheet tonight!
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by irishpitbull View Post
    No. Honestly this is terrible advice. Long slow rides to build a AEROBIC base? Long slow rides will only help you ride slow, longer. To gain a aerobic base you need to HIT your Tempo and LT ranges, riding slow WILL NOT DO THIS.

    Using (2-3) HIT sessions to target zone 4-5 and tossing in "one" zone 2 (70 -75% of max HR) ride a week is how you get faster and finish races strong.

    All I do is endurance races, nothing less than 100 miles. The misconception here is endurance racing is riding slow for a long time. Which is false.
    You have to finish to race. If you are actually "racing" these events, then you are spot on. But before you can race, you have to get to the point where you can finish.
    Once you get to the point where "riding slow, longer" gets you to the finish line, then you're ready to ride faster.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by LB412 View Post
    Hello,

    I am a fairly experienced AM rider who has decided to try my first 50 mile XC race/ride. The course has roughly 7000 feet of cumulative elevation gain. I currently ride 10-20 miles with roughly 1500-3000 feet of elevation gain 2-3 times per week.

    I am searching for a good source of training information to help me extend my range (road is not an option). Unfortunately all of the plans I have found are in the $100 range. I'd like to find something that cost less... Honestly free would be ideal but I'll look at other options. The goal is to finish comfortably, not first. All help will be appreciated.

    Thanks

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  22. #22
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    I used the book "The Time crunched cyclist" by Chris Carmichael ($20 velopress). It gives you a good training plan for your exceptions. It really helped to extend my range and average speed. But Im using video's from Sufferfest now to increase my lactic threshold and vo2 max(each video is between 12 and 20 dollars). I do most of my training on a stationary trainer as the wife and kid take priority and most of my training is done at night or early morning. Your going to need a hart rate monitor no matter what you plan on using. I have just started this endurance racing thing and its seem the best thing is just putting down miles. I have also found that riding with someone during your first few events makes it a lot easier.

  23. #23
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    Maybe a real noob question, but does it matter if the long ride is on the road or on the trail?

    I would think riding the trail would be best to get the body used to the jarring/bouncing and fatigue where the road would work your endurance. Am I overthinking this?

    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    If you ride 20 miles three times, that's already more than the goal distance.

    You could make yourself more comfortable on the day by working up to riding 38 miles on your training rides, two weeks before the event.

    Really, this is nothing you can't do yourself with Excel. There are some guidelines for increasing and distributing training volume.

    You can increase the length of your long ride and your total weekly volume by about 10% each, each week.

    Your longest ride should account for less than 50% of your total volume for the week.

    If you rode 75% of the event's length in training, you're good.

    Take an easy week every three weeks or so. That's about half the volume of your typical week.

    Don't do a long ride the weekend before your race. Don't just sit on your ass in those last two weeks either.

    You can work backwards from your event date to figure out what you need to be doing, and when you need to start increasing over your typical volume. I prefer to use time, but as long as you're consistent and the trails you'll race on aren't too different from your usual ones, it's no big whoop.

  24. #24
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    I think it's better to do as much as possible off-road. I feel like for me, a lot of the challenge of mountain biking for five and a half hours is that it's mountain biking. The road has its own special difficulties over that kind of time, but for me, it's more that it's a fairly static position and I get stiff.

    If I end up focusing on MTB during the second half of this season, if I can, I'll even do my structured workouts off pavement. Fire roads, probably, but not on the road bike.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by OnThaCouch View Post
    Maybe a real noob question, but does it matter if the long ride is on the road or on the trail?
    Doing the ride is way more important that what bike/terrain you do it on. But all things being equal, the more you make your training resemble the race, the better you'll be prepared.

    But I wouldn't stress much about exactly how you get a long ride in. Do whatever works for your life and schedule. I would try and get at least one or two long rides on the MTB to shake out any problems you might have with your position and to be better prepared mentally for the race. Most of finishing a long race happens between the ears.

    You also need to just figure out the basics of eating/drinking while riding. Bottles or hydration pack? Bars or Gels? All the fancy food in world does you no good if it stays in your jersey pockets. Doing this on a road ride is just so much simpler than a typical MTB ride.

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