• Solid training plan scores PR times and podium results

    (A dirty girl face from a fun and dusty race.)

    I don’t often write about my own training and racing results. This is primarily because I find the most joy in my work when I help other people get faster or go farther. I’m the first to admit, I’m happy when I’m fast too.

    I ended the 2013 race season by defending my age group win at the Dakota Five-O Mountain Bike Race. I was in the top 20 women overall, and at 55 I was the oldest woman at the race.

    For those of you that think you’re too old to go fast – well, pffft!

    It’s never too late to get a personal record, best time in an event. Though I have raced the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race for nine years, this year was my best time – 10:01:19. This is obviously in spite of the fact that I’m nine years older than the first time I raced the event.

    What is my secret? Really, there are no secrets in training. I use the same training principles to assemble my own training plan that I use for my personal athletes and my ready-to-use online training plans for triathlon and cycling.

    Here are the top 10 training items that helped me succeed and they can help you too:

    1. Off-season fitness. In the winter I stay fit. I complete a base training plan that includes aerobic work, strength training and cross-training. My cross training includes swimming, road cycling, running, Nordic skiing and alpine skiing.
    2. Stay healthy. No one can control all aspects of health. Last year I had an appendectomy as my Thanksgiving celebration. Though there will be bumps in the road of optimal health, do as much as you can to stay injury free and healthy. Athletes that are healthy and strong can optimize training loads.
    3. Consistency. By doing my best to stay healthy (80 percent of the time I eat healthy and get 8 hours of rest each night) I have very few days of no training due to illness or injury.
    4. Peroidize training. Those that show up to my Sunday group rides know that I’m not hammering lactate threshold intervals year round. My training structure changes every three months or so.
    5. Rest. Woven into the concept of training periodization is rest. It is easy for most athletes to plan work; many are terrible at planning rest. I know that I am gaining fitness when I’m recovering from a high workload.
    6. Volume. Training includes weeks or specific workouts that are high in volume. This is typically very easy for most endurance athletes to include in training.
    7. Intensity. Too many endurance athletes are so consumed with going long that they forget to go fast. (“Fast” is a race-distance relative term.)If you want more than event completion and you want performance, then you must include speed work in your training plan. Most important, the speed, or intensity, must be metered appropriately.
    8. Strategic assembly of workouts. When I put together any training plan, I assemble weeks and blocks of training with intent. Specific workouts are intended to produce specific results into the future. High intensity workouts planned in the future can only be done on the foundation work of the past. It is the assembly of the puzzle of workouts that produces optimal results.
    9. More intensity requires more recovery. Advanced training plans that include higher intensities or higher volumes of intensity often require more recovery. I did use a Quark power meter (that I won at the 2012 Dakota Five-O) on my road bike to include specific power-based intervals. The higher intensity intervals I completed this year would sometimes require more recovery; which meant I could do only two intense workouts per week rather than three or four.
    10. Practice hydration and nutrition in training. When you’re putting in your long training days, consider it dress rehearsal for race day.

    There are certainly other items that contributed to my success, like equipment and the support of training partners, family and friends. I’ll write about those in another blog.

    The bottom line is that no matter your age, or gender, the right training volume and pace at the right time produces results.

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