Train­ing: Mak­ing the Most Out of Train­ing

Mountain Bike for Her - - Contents - Words by Ja­clyn Delacroix

Race sea­son is upon us! For those of us who like to race, re­gard­less of if we do it for fun or if we do it com­pet­i­tively, one thing we all gen­er­ally want to do is be a lit­tle bit bet­ter and get a lit­tle bit faster. Moun­tain bike rac­ing can be a lot of fun so let’s ex­plore a few ways to help you get faster now and in the fu­ture.

Off-Sea­son Train­ing Ok, so off-sea­son train­ing… This one seems ob­vi­ous, yet it is amaz­ing how many peo­ple choose to ig­nore it. I know that for many of you, win­ter means snow-sports, but win­ter should also mean gym train­ing. Get on a pro­gram, lift weights, and gen­er­ally make your body stronger to deal with next sum­mer’s ad­ven­tures. Be­ing that we’ve missed the boat on the off­sea­son train­ing, we’ll leave this topic where it is and talk about it in a few months’ time. I’m mark­ing Oc­to­ber 1st in my cal­en­dar to start my win­ter train­ing pro­gram and you should, too, to re­mem­ber this key part to be­ing a faster racer next year.

On-the-Bike Train­ing I know what you’re think­ing when I say on-the-bike train­ing. You’ll dust off your road bike and start rid­ing hun­dreds of kilo­me­tres, giv­ing up days that you’d pre­fer to be out moun­tain bik­ing. But let’s eval­u­ate the type of race you plan on en­ter­ing. Is it a road race? Then yes, you do need to ride lots on your road bike. Is it a moun­tain bike race? Since you’re read­ing this ar­ti­cle, I’m as­sum­ing it prob­a­bly is. How would you feel if I said that for the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion (i.e., the week­end war­rior) who has to max­i­mize their train­ing ef­forts, spend­ing hours on a road bike might not be the best of your time!

Sweet! So what should you do in­stead? In­ter­vals! Yeah, I know, I’ve talked about those be­fore, but se­ri­ously, if you are strapped for time, throw in a cou­ple of in­ter­val work­outs ei­ther on a trainer or on your bike out­side. Great, right? Now, what else? Look at the dis­tance and el­e­va­tion pro­file of your race. Here in the Pa­cific North­west, most cour­ses have a fair el­e­va­tion gain: ev­ery­thing here tends to go straight up,

then straight back down. This is why I tend to move away from a lot of road bike train­ing. Switch it out and pedal your moun­tain bike up some fire roads! Or trails, if you are rac­ing sin­gle­track XC, then go climb sin­gle­track as of­ten as you can.

In a nut­shell, train on your bike for the spe­cific sort of rac­ing you plan on do­ing. If you are do­ing long dis­tance-low el­e­va­tion races, then gear your gen­eral rid­ing to­wards that. If you are do­ing hellish climbs to steep de­scents, then go out and ride like that!

Pre–Rid­ing I was re­minded of how im­por­tant pre-rid­ing a course was this past week­end. Even if you know the trails fairly well (and may have even rid­den them re­cently), noth­ing is as ef­fec­tive for cut­ting pre­cious race time as know­ing your lines. If you have the abil­ity and the time, then do the pre-ride! There are al­ways a cou­ple of moves that you may have forgotten, or lines that may have changed since you last rode the course. It will also ce­ment the lines in your brain so on race day; you al­ready know where you are go­ing.

Post-Race Eval­u­a­tion A step of­ten forgotten when want­ing to get bet­ter is tak­ing the time af­ter the race to re­view how you did. Ask your­self if there was any­thing you could have done to have a bet­ter run. If you re­ally are just out there for fun, you may not feel the need to do this step. But for ev­ery­one else, whether rac­ing for your­self or to snatch the top podium spot, run through the race in your head. Think about where you lost time and what you need to do to make it up at the next race. Ad­just your plan ac­cord­ingly.

En­joy Your­self Your rac­ing per­for­mance can be greatly im­proved by off-sea­son train­ing, on-the-bike train­ing, pre-rid­ing the course, and re­view­ing your ef­forts post-race. But don’t for­get the most im­por­tant part of rac­ing: have fun out there and be safe!

Photo Credit: Ja­clyn Delacroix

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