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  1. #1
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    Upset Preride was faster than racelap

    Saturday I prerode a course that I've never been on before, lap time was 49min. Felt very strong, pushed hard on a few climbs but held back quite a number of times to save for the next day, pedaled in circles a few times to adjust gearing. It was a quick and ambitious lap, but felt that I could shave several minutes off with no problem.

    Next day, about 12 mins into the race I'm huffing and puffing and 4 guys pull away. I tell myself as soon as I settle down I can pick up the pace and pull some of them back. At about 20 mins my breathing recovered, but my legs didn't get the memo. A few times I tried to push hard, but right away I got out of breath. Rest of the race was a struggle to maintain and I only caught 1 guy, its a real bummer when below potential.

    Did i start too hard? Perhaps, but I was mid-pack, and it didnt feel like a complete blow-up. (I will be practicing more intense starts this week though) I really feel the problem is that I'm not allowing myself proper recovery when I need it.

    Why I think this? A few weeks ago, on a course that I raced a few months ago, I put in a faster time than every cat 2 racer, and did an extra lap that was fast enough to put me on podium for cat1. Felt great and in control, but each of the last 3 races all I do is struggle (even starting from dead last). In training I know exactly when my body needs to recover and when to unleash the power, but in the race I cant hear the body's need for recovery. My mind is too caught up with "they are getting away" and "i'm losing seconds" "that's enough recovery, GO!"

    I see 2 possible solutions- train the way I race, or race the way I train. Maybe I should do both? Neither of them seem easy. Do my intervals at an even higher intensity with less recovery - ouch!! Convince myself to slow down during a race...huh?

    Questions? Comments? Suggestions?

  2. #2
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    HRM will be ordered this week, as I feel the data is now absolutely crucial. I feel like i can listen to the body and read my zones very good, (aside from racing). But I have to know for sure whats going on, in training and racing.

    How much do you rely on a HRM during a race??

  3. #3
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    I am pretty much out of breath the whole time, the first 20minutes is ussually brutul, a 50min race is a sprint not a set a pace and stay type race.

    Riding hard the day before is probably why your legs would not respond, sure cardio wise no big deal, but your muscles are going to take longer than that to fully recover, well mine do.

  4. #4
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    Train the way you race . IMHO pushing the day before a race is a recipe for disaster , save it for race day .

  5. #5
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    It's funny, even though I'm holding back when I pre-ride the day before, often my lap time is similar to when I'm racing. Sometimes conditions change and there is traffic that contributes to that but other times it's surprising that race pace is only a little faster than puttering around.
    What does this tell me?
    Relax!
    My best races have been the ones where I've been relaxed.
    If you're too hyped up and your adrenaline is flowing full blast your HR will be higher than necessary and you'll be burning matches for nothing. You'll also be f'ing up technically, which in turn will get you excited, and make your HR soar again for nothing.
    I don't follow any specific training plan, I just ride. When I feel good I ride hard, if I'm feeling tired after warming up I take it easy, so I can't really offer any advice on training other that listen to your body and relax.

  6. #6
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    You don't want to go out and push hard for long on the day before the race. I have my athletes do openers the day before - that is, for example, 2x5 minute tempo intervals with 5 minutes off, then 2x2 minute VO2 intervals with 2 minutes off. This is just an example, but notice how little high-intensity time is actually ridden here - 14 minutes, out of what would be a sub-two hour ride. These short intense bursts "open" your legs and prepare them for the next day's effort, but don't tire them. It sounds like you may have gone out and ridden tempo for 49 minutes with a few lactate or VO2 efforts thrown in on the climbs.

    Also, I agree with CB2 - relax! What CB2 says is true, getting too excited just accelerates your heart rate needlessly and tends to negatively impact your technical ability.

    In the end, this is all just a part of racing. You learn by doing, and the more racing you do, the better you will know how you react to different workouts. Keep it up!
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  7. #7
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    Were these flowy courses where riding smooth is important? If so, maybe backing off on the effort is what you need to ride faster. I'm learning myself that it doesn't matter how hard you ride, but how fast you ride. On some courses you will be faster when you put as much emphasis on flow as on effort/heart rate.

  8. #8
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    VO2 max question

    Quote Originally Posted by Alison Dunlap Coaching
    You don't want to go out and push hard for long on the day before the race. I have my athletes do openers the day before - that is, for example, 2x5 minute tempo intervals with 5 minutes off, then 2x2 minute VO2 intervals with 2 minutes off. This is just an example, but notice how little high-intensity time is actually ridden here - 14 minutes, out of what would be a sub-two hour ride. These short intense bursts "open" your legs and prepare them for the next day's effort, but don't tire them. It sounds like you may have gone out and ridden tempo for 49 minutes with a few lactate or VO2 efforts thrown in on the climbs.

    Also, I agree with CB2 - relax! What CB2 says is true, getting too excited just accelerates your heart rate needlessly and tends to negatively impact your technical ability.

    In the end, this is all just a part of racing. You learn by doing, and the more racing you do, the better you will know how you react to different workouts. Keep it up!
    I've heard of the leg openers but what would the intensities be for VO2 and tempo? My average heart for racing is 157-158ish? Thanks
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2fst4u
    I've heard of the leg openers but what would the intensities be for VO2 and tempo? My average heart for racing is 157-158ish? Thanks
    average HR is maybe not a great indicator. where is that relative to your LT HR? how long is the race? what is the course like? environmental conditions? lots of stuff can effect HR.

  10. #10
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    Just food for thought: The fastest lap is not always achieved by a hard/steady effort.

    For instance, you peg it at the start, reach steady state and are basically riding at a time trial pace, the fastest pace you can maintain. Now comes a climb, do you have any headroom or anaerobic energy available to crush the climb? Probably not.

    On a practice lap you cruise the flats, come to a climb and open it up to get some pre-race day blasters, and fly up the climb at an output that is above time trial pace. Settle back down into an easy pace, and repeat on the next climb for another blaster to open things up for the next day.

    Result.. you made significant time gains on the climbs, and didn't loose as much as you might expect on the flats.

    This is what makes single-speed riders surprisingly fast. They recover on the flats, because they do not have enough gear to ride at time trial pace. When they hit the climbs, they are somewhat recovered and they crush the climb with a big gear, plenty of anaerobic headroom, and make up significant time. Overall, they have surprisingly fast laps despite their slower speed on the flats.

    Its just something to consider. Take 5 short hills on a course. If you have the anaerobic capacity to crush the hills, how much time will you make up on each lap when compared to riding the hills at time trial power (steady state aerobic)?

    If you are pegged on the flats, its going to be slow going on the hills. Is it better to save some headroom for the climbs (even if they are short)?

    Also, once you cross into anaerobic territory, either from a hard start or going to hard on a climb, I find that I am searching for somewhere to recover.. downhill please! If recovery doesn't come soon enough and I hit the next hill.. its going to be brutal and probably pretty slow. Pacing an MTB course can be tricky, a combination of anaerobic efforts, recovery and steady state, all at the right time and right place.

  11. #11
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    Thanks for all the input. There are definitely a few factors on why i didnt perform as well as I could have during the race, not a good sleep, busy day before, (although did have an easy week)etc etc. But my issue is that I felt equally horrible in all three races, and was well rested for others. Well, except for the 2nd lap of the race that I broke my chain, then everything felt right. Not sure if it was lack of pressure and riding for fun, or because I had a 5+ min breather while fixing chain. I warmed up hard this time to make sure it wasnt a warmup issue, it helped some but wasnt the real problem.

    As you guys said, I think my nerves are playing against me big time. Heart is racing while waiting for the gun, and first 30 mins feel like utter desperation. I dont want to feel like that, but dont know how to control it. I can tell myself to relax, just ride, etc, but i dont think my nerves will listen. Maybe I should start the race with the mindset that I dont have a chance of winning?

  12. #12
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    perryr: Thats a good point! i was actually thinking on the drive home, that if I had been racing on my SS, my time might have been just as good or better.

    The previous course I raced on, I had plenty of time to examine a weekend before, picked out exactly where to recover in anticipation of a hammering section. I stuck to my plan, but with the effort of the start i apparently couldnt get enough recovery because the legs were powerless when I tried to push hard.

    I hate to give up on my starts, because they are so good. last 2 races I started from 2nd and 3rd rows back, clipped in instantly and got myself into second place within about 3 seconds of the gun. Some people say that if you start from back and pass a lot of people it gives you motivation and confidence, but not when you are thinking that the leaders are constantly pulling away while you are being held up.

  13. #13
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    perryr that is such a good point and CB2 as well. It sounds like you need to relax, "i'm losing seconds" and "they are getting away" are not the thoughts of a calculating racer trying to figure out where he/she can gain time and pass. Those are panic thoughts! Breathe in the healing love of the universe!

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by rob_co2
    Saturday I prerode a course that I've never been on before, lap time was 49min. Felt very strong, pushed hard on a few climbs but held back quite a number of times to save for the next day, pedaled in circles a few times to adjust gearing. It was a quick and ambitious lap, but felt that I could shave several minutes off with no problem.

    Next day, about 12 mins into the race I'm huffing and puffing and 4 guys pull away. I tell myself as soon as I settle down I can pick up the pace and pull some of them back. At about 20 mins my breathing recovered, but my legs didn't get the memo. A few times I tried to push hard, but right away I got out of breath. Rest of the race was a struggle to maintain and I only caught 1 guy, its a real bummer when below potential.

    Did i start too hard? Perhaps, but I was mid-pack, and it didnt feel like a complete blow-up. (I will be practicing more intense starts this week though) I really feel the problem is that I'm not allowing myself proper recovery when I need it.
    Questions? Comments? Suggestions?
    Just riding for 49 minutes the day before isn't that much really. I'd have a look at what you did in terms of recovery and nutrition between that warm up ride and starting the race the next day. Plenty of fluid, complex carbohydrates and a good sleep (including some naps during the day if possible) are what I'd suggest.

    Did you have a proper warmup before starting the race?

    In terms of racing with a heart rate monitor I wouldn't rely on it too much. Psychologically it can be offputting sometimes. When hanging on to a wheel the last thing you want is to look down and see that you're already at max heart rate. Make sure that any audible zone alarms are turned off as other riders can hear them too. If your heart rate monitor is beeping it's a sign that you're trying hard and may not be able to react to an attack.

  15. #15
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    Rob did some hard trail work with me the day before. We really should have prerode earlier in the afternoon but there weren't enough hours in the day unfortunately. For me, I benefitted from having my mind occupied with other thoughts, since I tend to obsess on race-day rivalries and psych myself out.

    I think rest is a key factor. He's gonna go out and get'em next time, I'm sure of that.

  16. #16
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    For the next race, I think I will go into it with the mindset that i'm racing a time trial instead of trying keep up with the competition. If I can stick to that and feel stronger throughout the course, my lap times should be faster. And the fastest lap-time wins, regardless of where you start.
    I guess passing can be an issue if I ease up at the start, but I might have an advantage there also. In the past races when I get behind someone only slightly slower than myself, I dont pass because it will take a big effort that I can't afford. Passing is much easier and more efficient when I'm not a few beats below Zone5, same with topping a climb.

    Maybe this will help relieve the nerves a little too.

  17. #17
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    I think being in back at the start can really slow you down too much during a race. It can take a quite a bit of effort passing other riders esp if the course is narrow. It also makes it quite difficult to pick out your own/best lines if you are stuck behind someone and can interfere w/ you being smooth and economical. If they dab or fall you are stuck behind them and loosing time and adding stress. I am not saying you have to be the one in front, but staying w/ the front group is pretty important for top placement. Also you want to be able to keep track of how many riders are in front of you. I would suggest working on being able to recover faster and on fast starts during the off season. Since it sounds like you are pretty fast otherwise and when you are relaxed, if you get to hang w/ the front pack at the start you should be able to pass everyone once the pace settles in. I think you will also be much more relaxed if you know you are pretty close to the front pack when settling in, which will allow you to be smooth and more economical and find the pace that is yours. Try doing 10 min warm up when you ride and immediately some fast long intervals. In other words, try to have your training imitate your racing needs.
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  18. #18
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    You may ave gone to had on your preride. I usually ease through the flowly stuff and then pick up the pace on the climbs, but not so much that I go anaerobic.
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  19. #19
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    i guess id give it another vote to chill a little and then pin what you are good at, and just ride fast not hard. While passing can sometimes be a little less than efficient, if you are catching those who blew up at the start, and you are just turning it on, sometimes your speed catching them will be significant enough they get a little flustered and just move out of the way completely, especially if you call out a rider back.
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  20. #20
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    Good points, I definitely should consider both the flow of the course (how much someone could hold me up) and the availability to pass before I start out easy.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by rob_co2
    Good points, I definitely should consider both the flow of the course (how much someone could hold me up) and the availability to pass before I start out easy.
    I definitely do not recommend starting out "easy." I try to get close to the front and then relax. I'll hold the guys behind me up or if they want to pass they can be my guest. I don't want to get behind a lot of people that are a lot slower than me.

    You mentioned this yourself, but it sounds as if you didn't recover well from the day before. What did you eat after the ride, that evening for dinner, and how many hours of sleep did you get. If you pre-ride the course take it very easy. Do not even get close to race time and save your legs for the next day. I know I feel terrible if I don't get enough sleep.
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alison Dunlap Coaching
    I have my athletes do openers the day before - that is, for example, 2x5 minute tempo intervals with 5 minutes off, then 2x2 minute VO2 intervals with 2 minutes off. This is just an example, but notice how little high-intensity time is actually ridden here - 14 minutes, out of what would be a sub-two hour ride. These short intense bursts "open" your legs and prepare them for the next day's effort, but don't tire them.
    How long of a ride would this be or does it matter for total riding time before the race day? <1 hour with warmup and cool down, throw in your intervals and rest and then the rest of the riding done at Active Recovery or Endurance pace? how long is this? Does it depend on ridinging time/distance the next day?

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