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  1. #1
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    Training suggestions for 50 mi

    I am planning on riding 50 mi end of April. I am currently up to 35+ miles on weekends (will increase mi every weekend), on the trainer on Tues (intervals), riding trails on Thurs (2 hrs), weights/Insanity workout 2 times/week. Is there anything else I should add, modify, etc to the my existing training schedule?

    Thank you in advance.

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    What's your predicted time for the ride? Can you look at past results or talk to people that have been on the ride before?

    I'm assuming this ride is a race?

    Training is really a function of time rather than distance. 50 mi on a MTB could be 3 hrs or 6 hrs depending on the course or terrain.

    Long rides on the weekend are good. Intervals are good. Mid week rides are good. I think weights/insanity in the offseason may be good, but I'd cut that out of your current plan, I don't think it's really going to do much for you in such a short period of time.

    Don't overlook diet and nutrition, get this dialed in on your training rides.

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    Echo dropping the weights for more saddle time.

  4. #4
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    Training suggestions for 50 mi

    Sounds like you have enough miles under your belt to finish 50 miles. Nutrition and pacing are key. Why don't you just try a 50miler to see how it goes? Go for it!

  5. #5
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    Go for an easier ride the last weekend before your race. Don't quit riding in the last week before your race - I think that's counterproductive.

    If you were in contention to win, you wouldn't be asking us. So, ride your own race, especially at the beginning. Don't try to be the first into the singletrack or anything.

    50 miles is a pretty respectable distance off-road. That's my Big Event for the last couple years. Paying attention to nutrition is really huge, and it's not necessarily the same as on a training ride. I figured that out the first time I raced 30 - when I opened up the throttle a bit more, I stopped being able to eat bars effectively and ended up bonking by the end. My profile pic, actually, is me climbing the last stretch of road to the finish. I didn't feel like I could turn the pedals anymore in the saddle. It was still a really cool experience, though, and I'm not trying to scare you. Just make sure to eat! And make sure it's something you'll be able to eat if you're riding more "like you mean it" than on your training rides.

    Think about what you're doing about hydration. The race I do has aide stations where I can refill my bottles. So I don't need more than two hours' worth of water. I carry pre-portioned Gatorade powder so I can have Gatorade for the whole race and not try to figure out if I tolerate whatever energy drink the aide stations have.

    Good luck!
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  6. #6
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    RC Rider
    What kind of Intervals are you doing on trainer?

    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    Go for an easier ride the last weekend before your race. Don't quit riding in the last week before your race - I think that's counterproductive.
    Agreed
    For me before races I recover/taper week before race (I read it in Friel bible or blog).Spinning along with workouts shown. Thurs 3x1.5m Race pace effort - Fri 2x1.5m effort - Sat 1x1.5m effort - Sun Race.


    Agree with AZ.MTNS - to a point
    I would do one workout a week for 'strength maintenance' - basically 1 set of 80% of your 1 rep max.

    Search strength maintenance below - I would skip insanity all together and focus on strength for lifting. But, that is just me...
    http://www.trainingbible.com/pdf/Cyc...th_Program.pdf

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    Thanks for all of the comments, really appreciate it! I've been MTB for about 3 yrs, so fairly new to this sport.
    I am trying to finish in 6 hrs 30 min, recently switched to a 29er HT.
    I will drop the weights and increase saddle time, watch my hydration/nutrition on my long rides (Heed drink & PBJ, + bars, gels, etc), there will be aid stations every 10 mi.
    My intervals consist of 10 min warmup, 1 min hard Zone 4/5 & 2 min recover (repeat) for 45 min, 10 min cooldown. Do you have other interval suggestions?

    Thanks again for all your input.

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    Good advice above.

    I would do some blocks of longer rides on consecutive days. IE 2 Hours fri, 2.5 Hours Sat, 3 hours sun. Would be ideal to get a couple of rides in the 6-7 hour range in before then race to figure out what to eat and when to keep your energy up for that length of time. The 3 day blocks have do a good job of simulating what a 6 hour ride feels like.

    I agree with eveything that has been said so far. With 1 month to go to the race strength training is not a priority. Eat and drink early and often in rides. I basically have to force feed myself for the first couple hours. I try to eat 300 calories per hour at a min. 1 Bottle of gatorade and 2 GU's each hour helps with hydration and pays off at hour 5. I also like to use a HR monitor during the race to help with pacing. I try to keep my HR in the middle of zone 4. 80-85% of max for at least the first half of the race. High zone 4 and zone 5 efforts early in a long race are a recipe for a rough day.

    Get as much saddle time as you can, and reduce the volume of riding in the week before then race, but keep intensity. Shorter rides at your endurance pace will get you to the line rested but not rusty.
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    6+ hrs is a tough mtb ride. If your in it to race/place/push yourself, you really need to get your nutrition dialed in beforehand and ride well under your redline at the start. If your looking to just FINISH then take advantage of the rest stops often, especially at the start. Once you visit bonk city, or even hit the city limits, your day is all but over.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by RC Rider View Post
    Thanks for all of the comments, really appreciate it! I've been MTB for about 3 yrs, so fairly new to this sport.
    I am trying to finish in 6 hrs 30 min, recently switched to a 29er HT.
    I will drop the weights and increase saddle time, watch my hydration/nutrition on my long rides (Heed drink & PBJ, + bars, gels, etc), there will be aid stations every 10 mi.
    My intervals consist of 10 min warmup, 1 min hard Zone 4/5 & 2 min recover (repeat) for 45 min, 10 min cooldown. Do you have other interval suggestions?

    Thanks again for all your input.
    Good for you for doing intervals workouts regularly. I'm pretty bad about that.

    In my region, climbs frequently run longer than 1 minute. Have a look at the course profile and think about how long your big efforts are going to take - I bet you need to be able to climb for longer than 1 minute too. (And I bet that final finish line/town line sprints and bridging are pretty much irrelevant skills for you.) Try substituting either some longer intervals - like 6 minutes or more - in that 4/5 threshold range, or going for an actual hills ride. My Friel gives its basic hill climb interval at 3 minutes, but I think that a representative length of time makes sense too. My race had a couple of monster climbs - one took me almost an hour - and I think it was good that there's some long climbs on my regular trails that I can practice hitting hard.

    Not that shorter intervals don't have value, but you're already doing a bunch of stuff to make you punchy, and you're planning a pretty long event.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  11. #11
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    Training suggestions for 50 mi

    My rule is. If you ride at least 3x per week. Then you can do. 1/2 of your weekly total in one ride

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    Quote Originally Posted by RC Rider View Post
    My intervals consist of 10 min warmup, 1 min hard Zone 4/5 & 2 min recover (repeat) for 45 min, 10 min cooldown. Do you have other interval suggestions?
    With race 8 weeks away I would have approached intervals a little differently - but there is more then one way to do things.
    I would have (you still could?) focused on SST
    Sweet Spot Part Deux | FasCat Coaching :: Cycling Coach for all Cyclists
    or 2x20's @ FTP.

    With a 50 mile ride/race, I would think you would need to focus on muscular endurance -
    best way for me I found was long steady's on trainer. (SST / 2x20's)
    Joe Friel's Blog: Coaching Novice Athletes, Part 4
    Your 2 hr trail ride - pending on terrain should give you occasional hard hill climbing Z5 efforts.

    Like AndrwSwtch commented - are there any prolonged 'make or brake climbs' to prepare for or is terrain rolling? Steep Climbs that are going to send you into Z5-6 unless you hike it up?

    My Post
    Preparing for first MTB race of the season

    What did you plan on doing with 'insanity workout' time?

    All that being said, keep up the good work, DO NOT do any thing drastic training wise 8 weeks out from race - relatively small, incremental changes (there is a lot of advice on this post - you cannot implement it all - mine included) , pay attention to how you feel - rest/deload for a few days if needed.

    Do you have a 'training plan' written out?

    If possible us HR monitor like Pedalfaraway suggested - decide BEFORE event what your main zone will be on flats (Z2-low 3?). Remember, this is a 6-7 hr event. Be disciplined at start and do not chase 'rabbits'.

    I would think a 50 mile race kind of like preparing for a running marathon - You do not have to 'simulate' the entire event in one ride before you do it. Trying to duplicate race entirely beforehand 'may' put you in a hole you cannot dig out of.

    Week before race - trust your training and taper as Andrw and I have mentioned above.
    Last edited by scottz123; 03-01-2013 at 03:53 AM.

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    Thanks again for all input.

    AndrwSwtch - you have a good point on increasing my intervals to 3 min Zone 4/5 & recover for 1.5-2 min, and repeat. I will also review the profile and see the length of the longest hill and copy that ride duration.

    Scottz123 - I am planning on doing a 45+ miler w/ a group of coworkers end of March and will taper in April. I am also trying to get a HR monitor Garmin 610 (wife is going to kill me. I do not have a written plan, but should, schedule changes daily due to work, family life, etc.

    My plan (revised after above input): Tues - Intervals, Thurs - MTB 2 hr ride, Sat - road bike 2 hrs, Sun MTB 4 hrs...eating/drinking 300 cal/hr. I eat Bonk Breaker bars on the long rides, works well.

  14. #14
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    I was thinking even longer than 3 minutes, but like I said, I'm pretty bad about doing this stuff.

    Remember, you found your threshold by riding at it for half an hour. Short intervals at an effort that can be sustained that long have always struck me as a bit silly. Like I said, I'm not very good about this stuff. But when I do intervals that short, I do 'em really hard. Alternatively, if I'm doing intervals at that effort, I try to hold them for longer. My copy of Friel describes a few different workouts that are around threshold for the work units; all have longer work units. So I feel backed up by The Literature.

    I did track racing last summer. It was before I had my heart rate monitor, which is too bad, because I bet I'd have found my true max. One of my discoveries was that the idea of what working hard is that I'd developed on mountain bikes and in 'cross was totally underestimating what working hard really is. Of course, the efforts in track have a much shorter duration. But I think it's really instructive to do a few different kinds of racing - in MTB, which is almost entirely different types of endurance effort, we have this idea of what sprinting is that really doesn't jibe well with what trackies and roadies think sprinting is. Meanwhile, trackies have an idea of what endurance means that is pretty pathetic compared to what you think it means in preparing for an event this long.

    So from all the pumping iron and whatnot, you're probably plenty strong in the sense of being able to move a heavy load once or twice. But I think that what makes a big difference in mountain bike racing is the ability to choose a certain, difficult pace on a climb and then actually stick to my guns. I have variable results, myself - I've been messing around in Cat 2 for a few years now - but I'm figuring out that how fast I feel like I am and how fast I am have little to do with each other; what gives me a good lap time is when even though I feel on the edge of nausea and I'm sure I've dug too deep, I manage to stay in that gear, finish the climb, and recover on the way down. That type of strategy would probably come back and bite me if I did it in my 50-mile race, but since I know the course relatively well, I have gone ahead and dug myself a hole on the big climb in the middle of the race, from a little after hour 3 to right around hour 4, secure in the knowledge that I can recover on the way down and everything else is rolling by comparison.

    Sorry for all the rambling. I think that the tl;dr from this is that intervals based on effort level/heart rate zone should probably only be a little bit shorter than how long you can sustain that effort, not a lot shorter, and intervals that are more about time should be close to the biggest effort that you can sustain for that time.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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    Andrw brings up an important point that a lot of newer riders don't dial in, knowing the course! If all your big climbs are at the beginning, your going to ride completely different than if they are at the end.

    Ask around, look at the course profile or even pre-ride part of the course to get a feel of what your getting into. The day before the race is a great time to get an easy hour or two on the bike checking things out and warming up for the next day.

    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    I was thinking even longer than 3 minutes, but like I said, I'm pretty bad about doing this stuff.

    Remember, you found your threshold by riding at it for half an hour. Short intervals at an effort that can be sustained that long have always struck me as a bit silly. Like I said, I'm not very good about this stuff. But when I do intervals that short, I do 'em really hard. Alternatively, if I'm doing intervals at that effort, I try to hold them for longer. My copy of Friel describes a few different workouts that are around threshold for the work units; all have longer work units. So I feel backed up by The Literature.

    I did track racing last summer. It was before I had my heart rate monitor, which is too bad, because I bet I'd have found my true max. One of my discoveries was that the idea of what working hard is that I'd developed on mountain bikes and in 'cross was totally underestimating what working hard really is. Of course, the efforts in track have a much shorter duration. But I think it's really instructive to do a few different kinds of racing - in MTB, which is almost entirely different types of endurance effort, we have this idea of what sprinting is that really doesn't jibe well with what trackies and roadies think sprinting is. Meanwhile, trackies have an idea of what endurance means that is pretty pathetic compared to what you think it means in preparing for an event this long.

    So from all the pumping iron and whatnot, you're probably plenty strong in the sense of being able to move a heavy load once or twice. But I think that what makes a big difference in mountain bike racing is the ability to choose a certain, difficult pace on a climb and then actually stick to my guns. I have variable results, myself - I've been messing around in Cat 2 for a few years now - but I'm figuring out that how fast I feel like I am and how fast I am have little to do with each other; what gives me a good lap time is when even though I feel on the edge of nausea and I'm sure I've dug too deep, I manage to stay in that gear, finish the climb, and recover on the way down. That type of strategy would probably come back and bite me if I did it in my 50-mile race, but since I know the course relatively well, I have gone ahead and dug myself a hole on the big climb in the middle of the race, from a little after hour 3 to right around hour 4, secure in the knowledge that I can recover on the way down and everything else is rolling by comparison.

    Sorry for all the rambling. I think that the tl;dr from this is that intervals based on effort level/heart rate zone should probably only be a little bit shorter than how long you can sustain that effort, not a lot shorter, and intervals that are more about time should be close to the biggest effort that you can sustain for that time.

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    Do you have a HR monitor now?

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    AndrwSwitch - I will do 3 min intervals this Tues and increase 30 sec every week. What is the recovery after 3 min? What HR zone?

    Ariz rider - I am doing a 35-40 mi tomorrow am to preview the course. I did the 27 mi last year, so a bit familiar w/the course.

    scottz123 - I am actually trying to get a HR from ebay as we speak.

    Thanks guys!

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    Quote Originally Posted by RC Rider View Post
    I am actually trying to get a HR from ebay as we speak.
    RC

    What were you basing L4/5 intervals by if you don't have a HR monitor? If you do not have HR monitor - I take it you do not have power meter.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by scottz123 View Post
    What were you basing L4/5 intervals by if you don't have a HR monitor?
    +1. This is really hard to guesstimate for short efforts or mountain biking.

    I got a heart rate monitor pretty recently myself. All the cliches have been true for me - I can land in a heart rate zone by perceived exertion, but I tend to wander if I don't have the stupid thing to beep at me. And, heart rate takes some time to respond. About a minute to stabilize at a new value, for me, so the idea of me using a heart rate monitor to try to get the right power for one minute intervals is pretty farfetched. Anyway, you're about to find out both how useful and how limited heart rate monitors really are. Mine's got me that much more curious about getting a power meter, but I'm trying not to throw more money at bike racing until I'm done with my degree and I've managed to follow a plan pretty well for at least a season; as it is, I think it would be data for me to geek out over but not "faster" me.

    I'm lucky enough to have access to a computrainer center when I'm being "good" about training, so I'll often do my structured workouts there, with my team. The effort for intervals really depends on what you're trying to accomplish. But toward the end of an interval protocol in a build cycle, I think we'd do 3-minute intervals somewhere north of threshold power. We estimate threshold power with a 5-mile simulated TT, so it's a effort that each rider can hold for over three minutes. A two-minute recovery is probably enough as long as you're not doing too many. Doing intervals on a trainer can be kind of cool because you can structure in a good warmup. I like ramps, but whatever works for you. Including a warmup and maybe some Zone 2 at the end, it's usually no problem to fill up an hourlong trainer plan, even if the intervals portion isn't that long.

    Friel, and probably every other book, has a bunch of structured workouts in the back. With some of them, it's hard for me to imagine that anyone could do 'em on the road - he's aware that trainers exist.

    To be honest, I don't know that most of this stuff is that big a deal in terms of the race you have coming up. For me, doing well on a race that long is all about nutrition, not leaving time on course, and having put in a solid base. While I usually use some structure in a trainer workout, it's at least as much so that it's not quite such an unmitigated bore.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    +1. This is really hard to guesstimate for short efforts or mountain biking.

    To be honest, I don't know that most of this stuff is that big a deal in terms of the race you have coming up
    Andrw - you are right - HR not much use for 2-3m effort (anything shorter than 10 min?). Longer L4, HR monitor would help like with your 5 mile TT.

    3-5 min intervals (L5/VO2 max) are usually 115%-120% of FTP. With recovery equaling interval time (ex 3m on / 3m off)

    I do my intervals with my Kurt Kinetic trainer/speedo combo - I then can base my numbers off of 'speedometer watts'

    Only time you should be 'redlining' in 6 hr race is up killer climb.

  21. #21
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    Due to the length in hours of your race, I would also look around the endurance racing section of the forum, or even ask this same question there if you havent already.

  22. #22
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    I think a heart rate monitor would be a good investment for an event like this one. Do not get too caught up watching it or your cycling computer though. Listen to your body and ride your race.
    There is not much choice between rotten apples.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rod View Post
    I think a heart rate monitor would be a good investment for an event like this one. Do not get too caught up watching it or your cycling computer though. Listen to your body and ride your race.
    This +1. HR monitors are a great tool and can be useful to keep your HR under control, but don't rely on it. IMO, it's important to get to know yourself and how hard you can push regardless of what your monitor is saying.

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    I'll have to read through all this good stuff. Planning to do the Berryman Trail Epic in October this year.

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    I take the OP is doing the same ride as I am, The Rwanda Ride. You can ride 10, 25 or 50 miles. I've been building up my miles and altitude for a few months. Yesterday rode 38 miles 5100 ft in 3 hrs 30 min. 4:15 elapsed time. Towards the end lots of gels and needed more water. Tomorrow riding min 60 miles on road bike. I think the OP is on track for the ride. If riden the course split in two days. Climbs are not too long about 10 to 20 mins on average.

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