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by Matt de Neef
December 16, 2014
Over the past few months we’ve been working with the team at Dig Deep Coaching to help answer your questions about training, nutrition and more. In this fifth instalment Stephen Gallagher and Dan Fleeman from Dig Deep answer another bunch of your questions, providing insight that everyone can benefit from.
I have moved up to Cat 2 for mountain biking, which means races of 90-120 minutes. I do some solo training, but also enjoy group training rides. Some intervals, skills workouts, and recovery rides are all done solo. I view training group rides as a chance to push myself and to learn how to go harder, longer. This is much easier for me to do in a group setting.
Yet a discrepancy between group levels has created a question about using group rides for (race) training. Specifically, when you have a choice between two groups (riding at different times) that are significantly different in ability levels – and you are right in the middle of them – what do you do?
One group blows me up and drops me during their testosterone-fuelled warm-up and the other has me doing long pulls and getting the endurance workout, but no real red-line workout. There are other riding groups available, but going to them requires much more time than I have available.
Thanks for your question. I am sure this dilemma is experienced by cyclists all over the world when trying to make the most out of their group riding experiences. I have a few bits of advice which I want you to look at and apply to what you feel is needed most out of your training. This should help bring around better performances come race day.
Fast group: It would be a shame to ditch this group completely as it would be good to push your limits and get out of your comfort zone. Seeing yourself ‘hang-on’ for longer will be great for confidence as well. I would use this particular session as your high intensity workout and avoid mixing these group rides with other harder individual workouts as this can lead to large amounts of fatigue and a potential ‘burn-out’ if mixing both for prolonged periods.
Try to attend selected rides at this level (perhaps once every two weeks?) with fresh legs and full of motivation to do your best to get through the ride as well as possible. Also take no shame in avoiding the odd turn at the front if you feel this is needed. Take a few extra minutes sitting on so you can maintain your performance to stay with the group longer.
Slower group: I would use this as your only ‘volume/endurance’ workout and make your solo rides the more intensive efforts. An example of this would be to conduct 10-14 days of solid solo training workouts (with reduced volume) and a few longer endurance group rides with the slower group.
Then give yourself a few ‘easy’ days before taking on the fast group ride so you hit it fresh and ready to squeeze everything out of yourself to see how far you get. After a few blocks of doing this routine I hope you will see benefits in your ability to stay with the faster group for longer.
Hope this helps. Make sure whatever you choose to do, you enjoy the social side of riding in a group.
Answer by Stephen Gallagher.
Here in The Netherlands, near the coast, beach racing during the off-season is a big thing. In short we race on the beach with mountain bikes fitted with a rigid fork and wide tyres (without any profile on it).
It is kind of important to be at the start line for a good spot 30-45 minutes before the start. But because these races are mainly during the winter it can be pretty cold. These races are typically no more than 40-50km and take between 1 and 1.5 hours.
My question is: what is the best warm-up tactic in this case? It is important to be able to go full gas from the start to get a good spot as these races are typically influenced by the wind.
When you say that you have to be at the start 30 minutes before the race is it possible to use rollers on the start line? If you can, this is the best way.
For a warm-up you need to start off just spinning the legs for five minutes then do a 15-minute progressive ramp bringing your heart rate from zone 1 and 2 up to zone 5. After this, spend another 10 minutes easy riding but do a 10-second sprint every three minutes. You will then be ready for the fast start.
Answer by Dan Fleeman.
My biggest thing with training is my mind at the moment. So my question would be, how do you train your mind to push past the “fear point” when trying to expand your skill range?
I cycle up to 250km per week and mountain bike ride also. While mountain bike riding today I found that I was holding myself back on trails I was familiar with because of the fear of crashing. How can I get past this?
I really look forward to hearing about this one!
This is a hard one as fear is very hard to overcome. I would suggest working on your skills a little at a time and build up your confidence with progressively harder terrain. Try to avoid just jumping into really extreme riding. As you get more confident you can add speed to you skill work before progressing to harder trails.
Hope this helps.
This is completely up to you and what time you have available and it’s not really a case of one being better than the other. Some people prefer the morning as they might be more tired in the evening after a day of work. But whenever you can fit your training in is fine in my opinion.
I have been training pretty consistently over the last three months doing around three to four rides a week indoor on the turbo and one longer ride at the weekends (sometimes two rides at weekend). I feel that my progress has started to taper off and I have not seen much difference in my fitness in the last three or four weeks.
I normally do pretty similar sessions each week with some variance if I feel like it. I do lots of endurance riding and some big-gear work on the turbo to build strength which I feel I have lacked in the past when racing. I have three months until my first race and don’t want to stop progressing.
What can I do to stop feeling flat in my training and help boost my motivation to keep working hard? Any advice would be a great help.
Thanks for your question and this is something that is pretty common in many riders as they approach the new season.
Firstly you have to look at what you have done in the initial four to eight weeks of your training block and then what you did differently in the next four weeks to keep the progression going. If you maintain a similar routine for three months you will inevitably start to see your body plateau in progression. This is because you are not adding on the required stress or changes in intensity/volume/routine that are required for your body to adapt further.
So the first thing is to change what you are doing from previous training. Perhaps increase the intensity of the sessions or increase the repetitions on the current intervals you are currently doing.
Be careful to avoid increasing volume and intensity at the same time. This will perhaps overload your body to an extent that will bring about a negative effect on training. If you are feeling a little ‘flat’ then taking three to five days of recovery/rest will not only help your body reset and recover but it will help with the motivation. You will be fresh enough to build on new intensity efforts in the next three months.
Maintain some strength work on your approach to the season (perhaps once or twice a week) but increase the other two turbo sessions to more threshold/anaerobic workouts and keep your longer volume rides at the weekend and gradually increase the duration of weekend rides as you get closer to race season.
Keep in mind that if you do the same training week-in, week-out you will only see similar results and stop the progression. Mix it up and try to make it as specific as possible.
Good luck with the racing season.
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