• How to train for a 70.3 Triathlon and Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race

    I have had training plan questions from three endurance athletes asking how to train for both a triathlon and the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race. Though I don't have a specific training plan to point you to, I can give you some tips.

    Let's begin with one athlete's specific questions:

    Hi Gale!

    I was one of the fortunate mountain bikers to be chosen in the lottery to ride the 2015 edition of the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race. I am excited, anxious and honestly a bit terrified. I looked at your mountain bike training plans on your Training Peaks page and I am interested in the 28-week Leadville 100 training plan, but I have some questions to ask so I am certain to select the right training plan:

    1) I am racing a 70.3 Ironman race on May 2nd. I'm already using your Intermediate 70.3 training plan for this race. Will I be able to use both plans at the same time or how does that work? Will triathlon training hurt my Leadville race?

    2) The 28-week plan description suggests a high volume training week a few weeks prior to the race. The high volume will not be an issue for me; but I don't live in Colorado and I won't be there three weeks early for the race. I'll arrive Wednesday or Thursday before the race. How can I modify the plan?

    3) Or, maybe I need the 16-week Level I 100-mile Mountain Bike Race plan? Can I use this plan for Leadville? What is the major difference between your the 28-week plan and the 16-week plan – other than number of weeks? Also, if I select this plan, do I need a build-up of some type before beginning the plan?

    Sorry for the volume of questions, but as you can tell, I'm more than excited and I want to succeed.



    Hey C.T.,

    First, congrats on being selected in the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race lottery!

    Second, no worries about the questions. Your goals are important. You asked about some of the plan differences. Let me begin by saying since you are not arriving in Colorado early for the race, the tcx files that come with the 28-week plan won't help you. The other things missing from the general mountain bike race plans are specific weekly climbing goals designed for the Leadville race and additional Leadville-specific informational attachments. I may design shorter training plans, specific for the Leadville event, but I haven't done that yet.

    That written, know that the other two 100-mile mountain bike race training plans will prepare you for the Leadville 100 event.

    To address your number questions:

    1) Since you are training for a 70.3 first, I would not suggest overlapping the training plans. You didn't say which 70.3 race you're doing, but I assume the St. George race? If so, the bike course looks hilly and includes a long climb. This is great for you. Where the 70.3 plan calls for rolling hills on the bike, make the hills as difficult as you can find on your road bike. That training helps both races.

    As for triathlon hurting your Leadville training, know that for the last 10 years, my Leadville 100 training has included swimming and running. I don't think cross training hurts you as long as you get the key mountain bike rides completed.

    I'm going to combine the answers to the questions behind 2) and 3). I don't think you should do the 28-week plan and try to modify for the 70.3. Stick to the triathlon plan through the race. You mention the 16-week Level I plan, but you don't mention the 14-week Level II Mountain Bike Race training plan, perhaps you didn't notice it?

    Due to your triathlon training, you don't need a build-up prior to doing the mountain bike race plans. You do, however, need some recovery after your 70.3 race. I suggest one or two weeks of reduced volume and lowered levels of intensity. Due to how the races fall and when the training plans begin, this means you either need to make intensity modifications to the first two weeks of the 16-week plan, or take two weeks of post-70.3 recovery and then begin the 14-week plan.

    You can see how the weeks lay out on the chart below.

    (Click on the image to enlarge. Press esc to return to normal viewing.)

    Which training plan is best for you depends on your training time available and your race goals. In either case, include as much climbing as possible when the training plans call for hilly ride training in Zones 3 and above.

    If you use the 14-week Level II plan, you can move the big training week around a bit. I like the big volume week located some 3-6 weeks prior to the race. Since you will be doing the big volume week at home, you have some flexibility. If you want to use TrainingPeaks to move the weeks around, you will need to upgrade to the premium membership. If you decide to do this, it is best for you to print out your plans BEFORE moving things around. This way, if you make a mistake you can go back to ground zero.

    Hope this helps. Let me know if you have more questions.

    Keep me posted on your training and racing success ~

    Coach Gale Bernhardt



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