MTB stage races: 8 basic tips to prepare for them
MTB stage races are booming. For years they have become one of the most attractive challenges for mountain bike lovers. The attraction of travelling to charming places, discovering new corners of nature and subjecting yourself to the challenge of competition for several days attracts many bikers. However, the physical preparation required for this type of test is high. Of course, higher than that required to participate in one-day tests.
The fact of pedalling on routes that we are generally not familiar with, of having to recover from one day to the next or the length of the stages should put us on our guard and help us understand that training for this type of event must be specific if we want to be up to the task. And not only to be in the first positions, but to finish it in the best possible physical condition and not to have an unpleasant experience due to the fact that the test exceeds our physical capabilities.So that you can prepare it with guarantees, from Deporvillage we propose a series of tips that can help you:
1. Establish a consistent training schedule
Due to the intensity and demand of stage races, you must train for them more in advance than a single-day race. A stage race is not properly trained for in one month. The duration of your specific plan will depend, as always, on your previous fitness level, age, sports base level, etcetera. In any case, we recommend a minimum of 4 months to prepare with guarantees for a test of this style, so use the calendar to plan it and get down to work.
2. Plan specific intensities
The predominant intensities in stage races are usually a little lower than those of a single day, especially as the stages go by, due to the increase of fatigue and long distances. This means that the specific intensities to be trained are also lower. Generally, for stage races, intensities between the aerobic and anaerobic thresholds should be prioritised when designing training sessions. We will hardly exceed the anaerobic threshold in competition and, therefore, we should not do it or spend a lot of time training it (except in high performance sports). We refer to target intensities located between 70% and 95% of the anaerobic threshold.
3. Use the bike you compete with
It is essential that you use a high percentage of the same bike you will be racing. It is common that many bikers also have a road bike and choose to train mostly with it for convenience, less maintenance of this type of bike. However, it is crucial to adapt not only to the measurements, but also to the gearing, vibrations and dimensions of the bike on which you are going to spend so many hours in the stage test.
4. Use the equipment you compete with
In the same way that you have to get used to or be adapted to the bike on which you are going to compete, it is also highly recommended that you use the same or similar equipment to the one you are going to use on the days of the race. In stage competitions there are some elements that are used unlike in single day events. The first of these is a hydration backpack, padded cycling shorts or even bags on the frame or handlebars to carry sports supplements. We recommend that you use all these gadgets while training to be accustomed to their use in the stage test.
5. Train days in a row
If you are going to compete on back-to-back days, train on back-to-back days. We know that finding time to train on a daily basis is sometimes not an easy task, but try, at least once a week, to find time to be able to train on the bike, also at least two days in a row. Take advantage of the weekend or a three-day period such as Friday, Saturday and Sunday or Saturday, Sunday and Monday to establish blocks of 2 or 3 days of training in a row and of a certain intensity. This will help you to be more adapted to consecutive efforts and your body will recover better on a daily basis.
6. Do not neglect volume
Even if your schedule is complicated and you don’t have as much time as you would like to train, don’t neglect to do a session of several hours on your bike. On a weekend day or whenever you have the most time, you should do a sustained ride for a time that is at least 80% of the time you expect to be cycling in the longer stages of the event you are preparing for. This should be a weekly habit to include in your routine or training plan.
7. Nutrition and hydration training
The nutritional requirements of stage testing are very high and specific. So, this aspect you should plan and of course, train in your preparation. Food needs are very high, so much so that, if we do not plan for it, we tend to eat less than our body needs during the long days of stage races, something that negatively affects our performance. It is known that during stage races we may need to ingest between 60 and 90 g of carbohydrates per hour. A quantity that is not negligible and that, in order to assimilate it, during the effort, we must train it before. For this reason, it is necessary that you plan which foods can provide you with that amount of carbohydrates and try to ingest them in your longer workouts, so that in addition to your legs, your stomach is also trained and helps you to perform better.
8. Take into account your rest time
When preparing for a stage race it can happen that, fortunately, we find the time to train long distances and ultimately, many hours on the bike. In principle, this is the convenient thing to do, but it happens with training of these characteristics we also generate high levels of fatigue that we must manage correctly. Training too much can be counter-productive if we do not have time to rest and give our body a break for regeneration. For that reason, we recommend that you plan one day a week to rest and what is more important in a physical preparation plan, a week where you lower the training load, your body and your performance will thank you for it.
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