This summer, a few monkeys will be participating in Trans BC Enduro, a five-day race through the wilds of British Columbia. Now while everyone has their own way of training, we thought you might like a few tricks that will help you in whatever race you’re thinking about undertaking.
It’s not step 1. It’s step 0. Why? Because you cannot get started if you don’t take care of your body. Push too hard and your body is always going to push back. Take care of it and it will take care of you.
Now while there are all sorts of fancy compounds and supplements. Some of them are very helpful. But before you start pumping packaged goods, load up on some high quality H20.
For every hour of riding, you should get in about one liter of water.
Now, on to step 1.
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
It’s easy, when you first start training, to go too hard too fast.
A lot of people who don’t have a lot of experience with endurance training think that the secret is to push harder and harder.
It’s not. The secret is to keep your heart rate slow and low, training your body to go farther and farther without digging into your energy too much. You see, there’s two different types of exercise: there’s aerobic exercise and there’s anaerobic exercise.
You know when you’re at the gym and you’re just crushing it and you feel like you can’t breathe? Yeah. That’s not good. It’s called anaerobic exercise. It’s the stuff you CAN’T do all day.
If you want to train for endurance, you want to train at a pace where you can talk and breathe. That’s called aerobic exercise. People who are training for long races, endurance races, use aerobic exercise to build up their stamina over time.
Basically, take it slow.
Your first few months of training are focused mostly on building up your stamina. It’s long, slow rides focused on keeping your heart rate low. This helps you with the long days.
But at some point, there’s going to be climbs and sprints, and the moments where you need to dig deep. Work on sprint starts, six seconds of absolutely everything that you have to give.
Before you start each sprint, you should feel like you have all of your energy.
The months leading up to the race are about building up all your stamina and then working on explosive speed that you’ll need at key points.
But the weeks leading up to race day are a little more relaxed. You want to feel fresh for the race. The last thing you want in the weeks leading up to the race that you’ve been working so hard for is for an injury to derail everything.
That would suck.
But this isn’t vacation time. Instead, you need to focus on keeping yourself active and working on anything that you know you need a little more work on. This is the fine-tuning stage. Whatever it is that you know you’re not great at, get great at it, SAFELY, right now. Stretch lots and stay limber.
And now for step 4.
I know. This is the second time we broke the rule about the number of steps, but stay with us here.
We can only assume that you’re riding this race because you really want to. So while you obviously need to focus on making sure that you’re mentally and physically prepared, you also need to make sure that you enjoy yourself.
What the hell else are we all doing this for?
Now if you’re sitting here thinking, “but where are all these big races I would use all of these awesome training tip for?”, here are a few that we like.
For starters there’s the Lost Shores Gran Fondo which offers a number of different rides ranging from a 30km trail ride all the up to a 120km road route.
Then there’s Du It Like Bryan, a duathalon in memory of Bryan Scallion, which is a great combination of a wonderful community event and challenging ride and run.
Velo NB offers a large number of events throughout the year as does Bicycle NS and certainly don’t forget to check out Colchester Short Track.
Kentville is home to the only Atlantic Canadian stop on this year’s Canada Cup series in August with the Kentville Canada Cup XC.
And if you really want to kick it up a notch and travel a bit, check out the National Ultra Endurance Series. Want to bike around a volcano? Yes. That’s an option.
If not of these fit the bill, ask around. If you’re in the shop there’s often a good chance that the people you’re in the shop with have a favourite race that they’re excited about as well.