It is time to get serious about your endurance training, because you can not get a regiment going and see real results unless you are serious!
In our modern age, if you have expendable cash, there a few gizmos that really help.
- A heart rate monitor is very important
- A rear wheel trainer for indoor work, a must or a full blown elliptical machine. The rear wheel trainer is portable and absolutely essential for warm up at the race track!
- A GPS or old school wheel sensor speed / distance meter
- A Rowing Machine which is great for upper body cross training.
- A Treadmill for lower body cross training via, walking and jogging using the incline and decline settings.
- An Eliptical machine for indoor training.
A well rounded bicycle endurance work out regiment should include the following on dirt with a mountain bike. Feel free to use a road bike as well for cross training.
- Climbing & Descending
- Flats & Sprints
- Race Simulation
- Rest & Recovery
Climbing Endurance Training
Set aside 2 days a week to focus on climbing. Use different gearing combinations to force yourself to sometimes ride faster in easier gears, and other times pedaling harder in lower gears. Do not overdo it pushing hard gears and injure your knees. Every rider when it comes to hill climbing is in one of two categories.
Those that prefer to push easier gears and pedal faster, and those that prefer to push harder gears. Don’t neglect working on your weaker area, to maximize leg strength. Determine which method is faster for you. Sometimes both may be required depending on the terrain and steepness of the ascent.
As they say, a rider that goes up, must come down. Either you love descending, or prefer climbing. Personally I live for the descent. If I am rock climbing, I can’t wait to repel, and if I am mountain biking, I can’t wait to go down. Practice, and make this a strong point for yourself. Many XC Cross Country mountain bike racers are weaker on their descents, and you can make up small amounts of time here.
Your two climbing days should not be back to back. Insert either a race simulation, flat / sprint, or low impact cross training day in between.
Race Simulation Endurance Training
Once a week, or when you can, run a mock race simulation on a course you think is adequate. Practice your start, sprint out of the gate and hit your first mark as quick as you can. Work your pace properly over the course, increasing in the later part, and finally giving it all you have for final sprint to the finish. Time yourself, and work to improve on areas where you felt you could be stronger.
Deal with mechanical problems quickly, and if you need to practice getting faster at doing track side style repairs, due it. You can lose a ton of time to simple repairs if you aren’t proficient.
Flats and Sprint Endurance Training
One day a week, either use your mountain bicycle or your carbon road bike to train. Possibly both in one day, or change it up weekly.
Repetitive Cross country mountain bike race training over long distance rides can set up your cadence and mental stature so that you become too comfortable pacing yourself for the long haul, thus you can lose your ability to fire off the quick speed bursts and longer sprints.
You need to be able to perform both, slower – medium cadence long distance riding, while still being able to turn on full blown sprints when you need them. Towards the start of your race, and of course the end, this will be of the utmost importance.
Do not over train or push yourself so hard you cause injury. Be smart, work your way up slowly to you longer term goal. This can be based on running the same course timed, to check your results. Write them down by date, time, distance and other relative notes to compare your performance.
Other low impact cross training exercise for endurance training is recommended such as swimming, rock climbing, cross country skiing, jogging (on a soft surface i.e. dirt, college track or sand with only new, quality running shoes for the road or trail) or jumping rope on a soft surface.
Whether it is outdoor, or indoor endurance training i.e. a treadmill, eliptical or rowing machine, cross training is a must. Keep this interesting for yourself and mix it up. Careful not to over train, as gaining too much strength in some areas, can actually hinder you on the bike. Most of your focus will be on the bike, but get in at least one day a week if you can to cross train on your lower body. Your upper body can handle more than one day a week, if you desire. Rowing is a great addition for at least 15-20 minutes daily. It has a wide range of motion, and is great for endurance, and I think its fun.
If you purchase a more expensive eliptical training bicycle that features digital programs, this is preferable. The elliptical bike’s programs force you to pedal and workout in ways that are difficult on the trail, or road.
Consider getting out on the road and clocking some serious road biking mileage. This is one of the keys to the success UCI World Cup XC racers use weekly.
When it comes to endurance training, start slow and work up slowly and do not over due it and risk hurting your knees, back, shoulders etc. I suggest creating a 6 month plan giving yourself plenty of time for gains and healing.
Rest & Recovery after Endurance Training
Upcoming race: Allow 2-3 days before you race to fully recover. You can do some real light work if you feel compelled to do something, but don’t go crazy. Proper rest, 8-10 hours each night, and a healthy diet will go a long ways to speed up the recovery process.
Take 2 or more days off per week during normal non-race training weeks.
Tip: Go big on the nutrition. You want results, more strength, better recovery, better performance, you must flood your body with Organic nutrition. Try it and you will see for yourself how much better you feel.