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  1. #1
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    Caution;  Merge;  Workers Ahead! Alison Dunlap Q&A Session

    Live Session Now Closed - Thanks for all the great questions and participation.

    Mtbr.com may have more of these in the future.



    >>Thanks for your participation.

    >>Mtbr.com

    >>For more information about Alison Dunlap and her Coaching program visit her website: <a href="https://afc.infusionsoft.com/go/mtbr/mtbr/"><b>www.AlisonDunlapCoaching.com</b></a>






    >>>>Thanks for the good pre-questions.




    >>>>>>Mtbr is excited to announce an exclusive live forum experience with Pro Mtn Biker, Olympian and World Champion Alison Dunlap.

    >>>>>>We invite you to participate and feel free to ask Alison questions about her career, how she trains, the sport of mountain biking and more.

    >>>>>>Thanks.
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  2. #2
    govt kontrakt projkt mgr
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    Alison,

    Sorry I can't be on live but work beckons.

    Let me say thanks for doing this. Let me play like the interviewer in "Road" Magazine and ask you:

    Gu Chomps or Sharkies?

    XTR or XX?

    On your pizza: Anchovies or Banana Peppers? Why?

    One more: Is powertap and HR Monitoring over-rated for the weekend warrior?

    Well I lied: MTBR, Ridemonkey, or Pinkbike?

    Take care; ride hard.

  3. #3
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    waiting on the east coast....


    For Pro cyclists, how much factor is the bike in the results? Can you or say KatieC ride any bike frame, any wheels and still kill the competition?

    If you had to list 5 things for someone to do to improve their mountain bike racing results, what are those things?

    If you could divide up your time for the Ultimate life? how would it be divided in percentages?
    ex: 20% coaching, 40% racing ......etc?

    what do you think makes a successful bike racer?

  4. #4
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    Hey all, thanks for being here - we'll get this ball rolling in just a few minutes! Hang tight for just a bit longer...
    Alison Dunlap Coaching
    When you're not paid to ride.

  5. #5
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    Hey ArmySlowRdr, nice interview tactics! Here are a few answers:

    Chomps or Sharkies: Neither! Shot Bloks, of course.
    XTR.
    Banana Peppers! Why? I like a little bit of zing.
    Definitely not. For someone that has very little time to train, you don't want to waste any of your time on the bike. An HR monitor or power meter lets you be most effective and efficient with your training.
    MTBr... where else would you find me?
    Alison Dunlap Coaching
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  6. #6
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    Okay, Alison, thanks for joining us today! We are very excited to have you here.

    Please feel free to start with the first quesions posted above.
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  7. #7
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    MusikFan:
    How much of a factor is the bike? Yes, the bike can play a big role in results if you're talking a 28 lb. bike vs. an 18 lb. bike. However, elite pros, when they have good legs, can win on any bike, any parts, any wheels.

    Five things:
    1. Get a coach!
    2. Improve your nutrition.
    3. Ride
    4. Interval workouts - hard but necessary
    5. Do more races.

    Mmm, ultimate life? 80% on the bike, 20% work.

    Successful bike racers are dedicated, persistant, and have a passion for the sport.
    Alison Dunlap Coaching
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  8. #8
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    thank you!

  9. #9
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    HR okay?

    Is a HR monitor enough or should a power meter be used for optiumm training results?

  10. #10
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    Alison: What are some of your favorite on and off-road rides around the country?

  11. #11
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    Hi Alison,

    What has been your favorite XC race course?
    What has been you favorite recreational ride/epic day etc.?
    What was your most scary experience on a bike?
    Where have you found the best MTB "culture"?
    Beer or wine?

  12. #12
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    Yeti - if you can afford a power meter, that's much better than an HR monitor. But if you're on a budget, you can train effectively using an HR monitor. For 18 years I raced using an HR monitor and it worked for me! These days, however, I use a power meter - no going back!
    Alison Dunlap Coaching
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  13. #13
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    ingluis:
    Fave XC course: Houffalize, Belgium
    Fave Rec ride: Monarch Crest Trail, Colorado - along the Continental Divide above treeline!
    Scary Exp: Becoming hypothermic in 30* weather, pouring rain, on a seven-hour training ride because I didn't have the right clothing. Don't try at home!
    Best MTB culture: Colorado has the best overall MTB culture that I've found!
    Beer or wine: Red wine...
    Alison Dunlap Coaching
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  14. #14
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    Hi Deb!
    Fave Road ride: Road to Hana in Maui. This ride is high up on the cliff walls overlooking the ocean - super twisty-turny, lots of steep climbs and descents. Very narrow. Beautiful! It's like riding your road bike for six hours in a tropical paradise.
    Fave Off-road: Colorado Trail from Molas Pass to Durango. I love this ride because most of it is above treeline - the view are spectacular. The wildflowers are out of control; the trail is technical and physically very demanding; all of which makes for an amazing day on the bike.
    Alison Dunlap Coaching
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  15. #15
    annadel lives in my blood
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    hi

    do you bike commute ?

    also if some one was to heckel you what would a good saying be
    annadel is where its at

    CHECK OUT MY FLICKR http://flickr.com/photos/32538636@N06/

  16. #16
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    Lawndale: Well, since I work from home, my only commute is from the bedroom to the kitchen to the office! :-) I do ride my bike downtown to go to the store, the post office, and other such errands, though.

    Heckling? Hmmm... I would hate to be called "pack fill"!
    Alison Dunlap Coaching
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  17. #17
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    Hi Alison,

    When you train with a power meter, what kind of bike test to you do? That is, what parameters are you measuring? V02max power, lactate threshold power, max power sustainable for 1 minute?

    What kind of intervals do you do when you are training for a race?

    When you are racing, are you looking at your power meter at all for pacing or is it just for post-race analysis?

    Thank you in advance for entertaining my power geek questions!

  18. #18
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    Hi Alison. Thanks for taking questions. Wondering what your thoughts on off season training were. Lots of snow in Colorado now, so outside time on the bike is limited. Do you think some easy nordic skiing or backcountry ski tours are and OK substitute for base miles this time of year?

  19. #19
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    Hey Kitboo -

    When you start training with a power meter you need to do a field test. From the field test results, you'll determine your power level at lactate threshold. From this info, you can then determine all your other training (power) zones. For example, when someone signs up as a member of Alison Dunlap Coaching, the first thing they receive is a field test to determine their power (or heart rate) zones.

    Intervals? Depends on the race. For cyclocross, which just finished up for the year, I do a lot of high-power, anaerobic, super-short intervals with very little recovery time. If you're training for a 100-mile MTB race, then you'd want to do more lactate threshold intervals that are 15-30 minutes long.

    When I'm racing, I don't look at my power meter. There's too much going on to focus on that - I use it more for post-race info. However, during a road time trial (for example), you could look at the power meter to better gauge your output.

    No problem!
    Alison Dunlap Coaching
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  20. #20
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    You are 28 miles away from home and out of food. You still have 6000 feet of climbing to do before you descend back to your door. 2 kind strangers offer you some food. One has Beef jerky and a Red bull. The other has a snickers bar and some sardines. What would you eat?

  21. #21
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    Hi brmcc - The rule of thumb is that if you want to be a better bike racer, you have to ride your bike. Any kind of skiing will definitely help maintain your aerobic capacity, but it won't really do that much for your legs as far as cycling is concerned. If you're an amateur racer, try maybe half the week skiing and the other half on the bike. If you're an elite-level racer, you should spend more time on the bike - maybe a few days of skiing here and there for a mental break. In the snow, of course, it's hard to get outside - try using the trainer in front of the tube, watching an action-packed film. Or just come down to the Front Range on the weekends - as I type, it's almost 60 and sunny outside!
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  22. #22
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    2 questions

    Hello Allison:

    Strength Training wasn't on the top 5 things you listed above. Friel recommneds it for Masters (i.e. athletes over 40) AND women.
    Do you recommend it under any particular circumstances?

    I am a "time-crunched" wannabe XC racer who just upgraded to CAT 1 (Expert) and have some tough time constraints (<10 hours per week). Your CAT 1 program sample has about 10+ hours per week scheduled, I assume that it would only increase over the training cycle/block.
    Where could one pare down the hours (group ride, recovery ride, etc.)?

    BTW, I think that your Coaching business is a good idea and fills an unserved market niche. FWIW, I am a potential client!

    Thanks,

    James

  23. #23
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    itchyjesus - I'd make friends with both the strangers and eat all of it - and then I'd hope I didn't throw up on the way home.
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  24. #24
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    Hi Alison -- thanks for doing this! Three questions:

    What's your philosophy or approach to weight training?
    What's the most common riding or training mistake you see in your clients?
    What's your take on advocacy/trail access issues?

  25. #25
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    Hi James - I recommend strength training for any endurance athlete, but especially masters, women, and any rider that's new to the sport.

    If you're short on time, here's my rule of thumb for paring down the workouts:
    1. Maintain your intervals. These are very important and you need to get them all in. You can always shorten the warm-up and recovery on interval days if you must to make it a quicker workout.
    2. You can always shorten recovery rides or skip them entirely if you must.
    3. You can trim the long rides on the weekends or any of the Endurance rides during the week.

    For riders that are really crunched for time, remember that it's quality, not quantity, that counts.
    Alison Dunlap Coaching
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  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alison Dunlap Coaching
    Hey Kitboo -

    When you start training with a power meter you need to do a field test. From the field test results, you'll determine your power level at lactate threshold. From this info, you can then determine all your other training (power) zones. For example, when someone signs up as a member of Alison Dunlap Coaching, the first thing they receive is a field test to determine their power (or heart rate) zones.

    Intervals? Depends on the race. For cyclocross, which just finished up for the year, I do a lot of high-power, anaerobic, super-short intervals with very little recovery time. If you're training for a 100-mile MTB race, then you'd want to do more lactate threshold intervals that are 15-30 minutes long.

    When I'm racing, I don't look at my power meter. There's too much going on to focus on that - I use it more for post-race info. However, during a road time trial (for example), you could look at the power meter to better gauge your output.

    No problem!
    Thank you, Alison!

    More questions: So the intervals are race specific. How close to the race do you start doing these intervals? For example, how many weeks before a 25 mile XC race do you start doing intervals and what kind?

    If you are not looking at the powermeter while racing, do you pace (say the above 25 mile xc race) by perceived exertion? or HR? And do you do a race simulation ride in order to dial in the pacing?

  27. #27
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    ctm404 - I think weight training is extremely valuable to all cyclists. I highly recommend it to masters, women, and riders that are new to the sport. It's important to do weight training that will actually benefit you on the bike - i.e., lifts that are similar to what you'll doing when pedaling. You're not going for the "power-lifter" physique, you're trying to improve your cycling.

    The most common mistake I see in my clients is not taking enough rest time. Riders make the mistake of thinking that "In order to get faster, I must ride my bike as much as I can, and every time I ride, I'm going to ride hard." It's more effective to have a few days where you go really really hard, and a few days where you go really really easy. This is why a professional coaching program is important - the proper mix will be set down on paper for you!

    I have a hard time with trails being shut down entirely to MTBers. There are more effective ways to manage trail use so that bikers, hikers, and equestrians can all peacefully coexist. For example, instead of closing the trail to MTBers, why not have the trial open to MTBers on odd days of the month, and open to hikers on even days, or something like that? I also strongly believe that it's important that MTBers become involved in trail building and maintenance in their local area.
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  28. #28
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    Hi Alison,

    What's your training like this time of year (Jan-Feb)? Avg # hours on the bike per week and in the gym? and are you working mainly lower HR zones or do your intervals ramp up to race pace?

    Thanks!

  29. #29
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    Kitboo, if your XC race is May 1, you should begin interval training in February. Remember, there are many different types of intervals, and you won't always be doing super-high-intensity race pace intervals, you'll do a mix of tempo, lactate threshold, VO2, and anaerobic power intervals - all the systems you need to train in order to be a good MTB racer.

    I use perceived exertion to pace during races - HR or power can be used as a secondary info source to confirm that you're going hard enough if you need confirmation. You don't necessarily have to do a full two-hour race sim ride to get ready for your event. You can just as effectively learn your race pace by doing 3 or 4 30-minute super-hard efforts on a group ride or hard ride with friends, where everyone's pushing each other to go harder. I think mentally it would be hard to go out and push yourself for 25 miles at race pace by yourself, but if you want to and you have a good place to, go for it! Do your race sim ride at least a week before the event, if not more, giving yourself plenty of time to rest and recover before your race.
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  30. #30
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    OnYourLeft - Typically, when I had to be race ready by April, I would do a block of VO2 high-intensity intervals in January, and then longer lactate threshold intervals in February. I'd follow that with race-specific intervals in March, and the racing in April. My average number of hours on the bike per week would be about 12-15, and maybe three days a week in the gym, no longer than an hour each time.
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  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alison Dunlap Coaching
    Kitboo, if your XC race is May 1, you should begin interval training in February. Remember, there are many different types of intervals, and you won't always be doing super-high-intensity race pace intervals, you'll do a mix of tempo, lactate threshold, VO2, and anaerobic power intervals - all the systems you need to train in order to be a good MTB racer.

    I use perceived exertion to pace during races - HR or power can be used as a secondary info source to confirm that you're going hard enough if you need confirmation. You don't necessarily have to do a full two-hour race sim ride to get ready for your event. You can just as effectively learn your race pace by doing 3 or 4 30-minute super-hard efforts on a group ride or hard ride with friends, where everyone's pushing each other to go harder. I think mentally it would be hard to go out and push yourself for 25 miles at race pace by yourself, but if you want to and you have a good place to, go for it! Do your race sim ride at least a week before the event, if not more, giving yourself plenty of time to rest and recover before your race.
    Thanks again Alison. I see you do intervals of zones3-6 if you use Coggan's training zones. Do you see any benefit to a X-Country racer or Xterra racer in doing zone 7, neuromuscular power, intervals?

  32. #32
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    Hey there Coach!

    My biggest problem in both XC and CX is a crummy, slow start. I feel like I'm going hard and my heart rate is way up in the stratosphere. But the rest of the bunch seems to just ride away from me for a while such that I'll be about 2/3 of the way to the back of the bunch. As the race progresses, I start reeling them back in and finish in the top 1/3. Is there an interval or group of intervals I can do to help out my slow starts?

  33. #33
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    Hey Alison,

    Climbing Question,I am a high rpm climber on my geared bike.I my single speed I run an easy gear compared to others in my race and spin out on flat sections.What kind of workouts could I do to push harder gears uphill.

    Thanks Bill

  34. #34
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    Kitboo - Most definitely! You need to do these sorts of intervals to improve your starts, attacking capabilities, or being able to generate high levels of power when coming across, say, a steep climb on a course you haven't pre-ridden. These types of intervals are what you'd do when closer to your event - they're more race-specific workouts. On my training programs, these sorts of intervals are listed as Zone 5+.
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  35. #35
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    Hey KitC - Doing short, super-hard, high-intensity, 15-30-second intervals, where your heart rate won't matter because the interval is too short - those are good for explosive starts. However, you also need to be able to maintain that high intensity beyond a 30-second effort. To improve this, I'd suggest doing what I call kilo intervals: A flat effort for exactly 1 kilometer, going as hard as you possibly can. Recover for 10 minutes, and then do it again, for a total of 3 or 4 efforts. Both of these workouts you only want to be doing once or twice a week becase they are so physically exhausting.
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  36. #36
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    Hi Bill - I'd recommend doing 3-5-minute VO2 efforts at 55-70 rpms, or whatever cadence you'll be pushing up most hills on an SS. If you want to be able to race pushing hard gears, you'll have to train your legs to tolerate the higher fatigue level of pushing that big gear - so I'd recommend using your geared bike for these intervals, so you can be sure to have a gear that will allow you to push slowly.
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  37. #37
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    Hi!

    What is the weight of an unladen- oh, wait.

    What do you do when you get burnt on riding a bike, and does it happen much? What do you do to keep the fire burning?

    Thanks-

    fp

  38. #38
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    Hey Finch - Simple. If you get burnt on riding your bike, don't ride your bike! Do something else. Keep it varied - go rock climbing, hiking, tele skiing, go to the gym - whatever makes you happy. When you do ride your bike, do rides that make you smile. Ride to the bakery! Do rides that are your favorite, that you absolutely love. If you're a serious racer and can't afford to take time away from the bike, then mix it up by riding your road bike, or a cyclocross bike, or a single-speed. Even try a track bike! Just mix it up.

    To keep myself motivated and excited about riding my bike, I do everything I just listed above. Do whatever you can to make riding your bike fun - group rides, riding with your dog, etc.
    Alison Dunlap Coaching
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  39. #39
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    Good job! Great topic

    Hi Allison!

    How do you get yourself in race weight? I'm assuming that during off-season you won't be gaining much weight but how do you drop your weight if it's necesarry? And I'm not talking about 10lb weight loss but getting your bodyfat% down to 7-10%...

    Thanks in advance!

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alison Dunlap Coaching
    To improve this, I'd suggest doing what I call kilo intervals: A flat effort for exactly 1 kilometer, going as hard as you possibly can. Recover for 10 minutes, and then do it again, for a total of 3 or 4 efforts. Both of these workouts you only want to be doing once or twice a week becase they are so physically exhausting.
    Quick follow-up: Should the kilo be on a nice, flat section of road, or on terrain that is representative of the next race?

    You know, even though I've watched "Off Road to Athens" a dozen times, it's still hard to watch the scene where you struggle with not making the Olympic team.

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    Hey B_H - I strongly urge you to read the book "Nutrition Periodization for Endurance Athletes", by Bob Seebohar. This book addresses the big problem: How do you train hard and eat enough food to fuel the demands of training, yet lose weight? If you're training for a race, you obviously don't want to deprive your body of calories - your body will suffer. However, the only way to lose weight is to consume less calories than you're burning. There's really no easy answer, and it is better addressed by experts in the field of nutrition. The above book is excellent!
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  42. #42
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    Hey KitC - If doing two kilo workouts a week, do one on a flat road, and one on a steady climb with no undulations - just a steady, even climb.

    I know what you mean about "Off Road To Athens" - I still cry every time I watch that movie...
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  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alison Dunlap Coaching
    Hey Finch - Simple. If you get burnt on riding your bike, don't ride your bike! Do something else. Keep it varied - go rock climbing, hiking, tele skiing, go to the gym - whatever makes you happy. When you do ride your bike, do rides that make you smile. Ride to the bakery! Do rides that are your favorite, that you absolutely love. If you're a serious racer and can't afford to take time away from the bike, then mix it up by riding your road bike, or a cyclocross bike, or a single-speed. Even try a track bike! Just mix it up.

    To keep myself motivated and excited about riding my bike, I do everything I just listed above. Do whatever you can to make riding your bike fun - group rides, riding with your dog, etc.
    Hey Alison.

    What proportion of road/versus mountain do you recomend for a cross country racer?
    Stupid, but sometimes witty. Occasionally brilliant. Slow and fat though.

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  44. #44
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    iheartbicycles - I'd say 50/50. You need to spend time on the MTB, learning technical skills, keeping up your feel for trails, staying accustomed to being on your MTB. I also think it's a good idea to ride your road bike; you can work on leg speed, and participate in group rides and training races. Doing road group rides improves your ability to ride in a pack and your tactics overall, which are both useful in MTB racing.
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  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by iheartbicycles
    Hey Alison.

    What proportion of road/versus mountain do you recomend for a cross country racer?
    You hit on it previously - but is there a period of time in which you beging to transition from aerobic base building to higher intensity training? How do you know when to make this transition?

    What are acheivable goals for high intensity training? For example - can AT workouts results in ones max heart rate to increase - or are you simply training to body to deal with the higher intensity, lactic acid and pain?

    Does total power output/wattage increase significantly during this sort of training? Tying in a previous question - how does strength training factor into this?

    Do you know where my HR monitor strap went?


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  46. #46
    B_H
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alison Dunlap Coaching
    Hey B_H - I strongly urge you to read the book "Nutrition Periodization for Endurance Athletes", by Bob Seebohar. This book addresses the big problem: How do you train hard and eat enough food to fuel the demands of training, yet lose weight? If you're training for a race, you obviously don't want to deprive your body of calories - your body will suffer. However, the only way to lose weight is to consume less calories than you're burning. There's really no easy answer, and it is better addressed by experts in the field of nutrition. The above book is excellent!
    Thanks for the tip, I'll certainly read the book.

    Already knew that it's crazy to try drop weight during race season and that it's also hard when training hard (intensity or quantity) because you don't want to eat too less or you'll lose most of the benefits of hard training.
    I've been cutting calories off in easy weeks and in easy days but weight loss is painfully slow @1-2lb/month. Still better than gaining weight .

  47. #47
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    Hey iheartbicycles - Based on when you want to start racing, go back about four months - that's when you want to begin making the transition from aerobic base building to higher-intensity training.

    High-intensity training is going to increase the amount of power you can push at your lactate threshold, which is the number one determining factor in how successful you'll be on your bike in a race. Within the various high-intensity workouts you can do, you'll also see increases in your body's ability to tolerate pain, lactic acid, lack of oxygen - all the things that come with super-hard races. Max heart rate is, however, not one of those - it is determined solely by your genetics and age. As you get older, your max heart rate decreases, regardless of how much training you do or how fit you are.

    Total power output will increase by doing high-intensity training. The amount of that increase depends on what level of cyclist you are - a beginner cyclist that does high-intensity training will see a huge increase; an Olympic-level cyclist may see a half-percent increase in power after months of high-intensity training. However, that half percent may mean the difference between a medal and no medal. In general, high-intensity training will increase power for anyone.

    Strength training will increase your body's ability to generate force on the pedals. Strength training can increase your power by allowing you to perform a certain amount of work over a shorter period of time. If Cyclist A lifts 50 lbs in 3 seconds, and Cyclist B lifts 50 lbs in 1.5 seconds, Cyclist B is generating more power.

    I think my dog Jiggs ate that strap...
    Alison Dunlap Coaching
    When you're not paid to ride.

  48. #48
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    Hey B_H, As long as you eat lots of whole grains, fruits and veggies, etc., and eliminate junk food, fast food, and sodas and such, you'll probably lose weight naturally if you are training hard. But the book will definitely help!

    Best wishes!
    Alison Dunlap Coaching
    When you're not paid to ride.

  49. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alison Dunlap Coaching
    Hey B_H, As long as you eat lots of whole grains, fruits and veggies, etc., and eliminate junk food, fast food, and sodas and such, you'll probably lose weight naturally if you are training hard. But the book will definitely help!

    Best wishes!
    What power meters/measuring systems do you recomend?

    Does your training program utilize these tools (if they are available to the individual)?

    What's your best race memory/moment/story?
    Stupid, but sometimes witty. Occasionally brilliant. Slow and fat though.

    Mike Vandeman Sucks Dong

  50. #50
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    Hi Alison,

    I've been using ADC for a 1 1/2 months now and really enjoy it!

    My questions are, will the program offer any advice for the days leading up to a race and the days after? Also where to pick up in the training block when training resumes?

    How about adding a weekly crit every now and again, would that take the place of an interval day?

    Thanks in advance!

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