Question: How will attending a mountain bike training camp help me for my race season? How should I time attending a training camp to get the maximum benefit?
Answer: Training camps are great fun. Along with fitness improvements, the motivation building effects they have are great reasons to include them. When training camps are scheduled into your season with the right timing, they serve as an effective stimulus to increase performance. Training camps will generate super-fitness before a peak race, or they can generate an early season fitness boost during base training. These are very different uses of training camps and as such fit into your training calendar in different places.
When using a training camp in-season to peak for an *A* race, schedule your training camp 2-3 weeks before your peak race. Go into the training camp rested and take a rest week post camp. When using a training camp over the winter for an early season fitness boost, schedule your training camp during your base training period at the end of a training block, immediately prior to a rest week. Schedule a rest week post camp.
Ten Tips for the Perfect Training Camp
- Enter the camp rested and take a rest week post camp.
- Ride conservatively for the first half of the camp and gradually build up effort level and fatigue during camp.
- A winter training camp should be training, not racing! A few short drag races are fun but for the most part ride steady and aerobic.
- Use a heart rate monitor or power meter with specific power level governors in place to keep your intensity levels in check. At the start of camp the motivation boost of being surrounded by other racers will switch off your perceived exertion much like the start of a race.
- Take time to check out everybody’s bikes and equipment. Camp is a great time to share gear knowledge.
- Confabulate lots at dinner about the days ride
- Absorb inspiration from others post season stories, motivation and plans for this season.
- Go big at camp!
- Finish camp on empty. Go home tired.
- Keep your post training camp hunger monster in check to avoid post camp weight gain.
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 20 years. Contact her through her website for information on mountain bike training plans, coaching and consulting at LWCoaching.com.