Monday, February 25, 2008

Training for Endurance Racing in the Real World

I'm feeling like I'm starting to turn the corner in understanding my body better than ever. Here are a few of the things that have helped...

I like all of the articles below. I've used a Suunto T6 for nearly 3 years now and the system (EPOC) flat out works if you learn and use it. The trick is learning to manipulate training volume, intensity and rest periods to get more from the work you do. The other issue is getting the most for a limited time budget-- also known as living in the real world...

An article on the Suunto T6 and the basic science behind it: Here

An article that adds more discussion about the value of intervals: Here

An thought-provoking article on negative split racing by Joe Friel: Here

I would submit my performance in the 2007 Horribly Hilly Hundreds 200K (at least top 5), 24 Hours of 9-Mile (25th in Open division despite 3 hours fixing my bike), and the 2008 Arrowhead (5th, one of only 7 to ever finish sub-24 hours) as proof that intervals work for endurance athletes. My longest rides all year last year were 4-5 hours, and they all included hill repeats or intervals. Two of those races were 24 hours long, one was 8 hours long. In each case, the limiting factor was my ability to manage my early pace and nutrition rather than being fit. I am absolutely convinced that my late-race performance was only limited by the earlier mistakes (include fighting the snow conditions in Arrowhead with wrong tire pressures as well).

I know in my heart that the people who believe you have to go long to be ready to go long are wrong. It's about getting yourself to a fitness level where you have a higher horsepower reserve to draw from, having the horsepower to race at a lower overall percentage of your max, and managing your effort, nutrition, and equipment choice/setup to give you the best long-term performance.

Perhaps the hardest lesson to learn, one I continue to wrestle with, is that saving a few minutes early by going hard in a long event can cost many times the savings on the other end. The second-most difficult lesson is calorie and water intake. I continue to learn more about that every race. Here's another great Joe Friel article on eating: Here

Navenka and I watched an amazing program on eating on Discovery Health last night. Everyone should be required to watch the program. It was called 'The Truth About Food' and dealt with critical nutritional questions like the impact of high-carb vs high-protein or high-fat diets and weight management, and so many other truly amazing issues like the impact of portion size on consumption... fascinating and useful. We're very nutrition-conscious yet learned even more and resolved to do even better based on what we saw. Their web site has lots of great stuff. Here's the Discovery Health Web Site (Brings up the TV sked, look around for more)

Here's the real secret to endurance racing-- Balance. Consistency. Focus. Preparation. Connecting the dots between actions and impact over time.

I hope this is useful and interesting.




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