Coach's Column with Lynda Wallenfels: Tips on Training and Recovery for 100 Milers
like to get into endurance racing this season and ideally would like to do 3-4,
100 miler mountain bike races. I've mostly been a regular xc racer and
have done some 50/100k races. How do I plan my training to be able to do
the 100s and how far apart should I plan on racing the 100 milers so I can
recover enough between them?"
Answer: Three to
four 100 miler mountain bike races are a good number to fit into one race
season. Ideally spread them out as far as you can. The more time you have, the
better prepared you can be for each race.
Unlike cross country distance races, 100 mile mountain bike
races spend fitness, not build it. By the time you have rested and tapered
properly into the race and recovered adequately after it, your overall CTL
(chronic training load) and fitness will be lower than before.
Recovery from a 100 mile race takes 2-3 weeks depending on a
number of variables.
How deep into your reserves you went during the
race: This is a balance between your fitness level, race effort, how well
fueled and hydrated you started and remained during the event.
How beaten up you were post-race: Skin abrasions,
sunburn, bruises, hypothermia, hyperthermia and injuries sustained during the
race add up to more recovery time required.
Post-race recovery habits: Excellent nutrition,
more sleep, less stress, ice baths and compression therapy can increase recovery
Natural recovery speed: Personal ability and age
do impact recovery rates.
I do not recommend racing 100 mile mountain bike events on
back-to-back weekends with 7 days or less days between races. This guarantees
fatigue in the second event. Spacing these races 2-3 weeks apart allows only
enough time for race-recover-race. Athletes on race-recover-race schedules find
their CTL and fitness will steadily erode over the season.
To continually improve, I recommend scheduling training time
between events to rebuild CTL and fitness. Spacing your races 4 or more weeks
apart provides you with time in your schedule to increase CTL and rebuild
fitness between races.
Lynda Wallenfels is a
Category 1 certified USA Cycling coach. She coaches mountain bike, cross
country and endurance athletes to personal bests and national championships. Lynda
has been coaching off-road athletes and racing for 18 years. Connect with her
through her website for information on mountain bike training plans, coaching
and consulting at LWCoaching.com.