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Coach's Column with Travis Woodruff

Posted by: Shannon Boffeli |October 11, 2011 2:33 AM

Travis Woodruff is a USAC Level I (elite) certified coach who holds a B.S. in Kinesiology with emphasis in Exercise Science. Heís coached riders to five MTB National Championship wins and has over 10 years of personal racing experience. Since 2005 heís competed as a pro mountain biker and has coached full-time. His business, Momentum Endurance LLC, is based out of Tucson, Arizona where he hosts wintertime training camps.



Question: I want to improve my starts and the first 5-10 minutes of my race. What are some good workouts to do?


Answer: The start of most XC races is certainly an important segment and is more critical than any other 5-10 minute portion of the race that we could otherwise consider.  Establishing your position early will allow you to settle into your rhythm without having to chase or catch back on to the competition later in the race.  However, it is also critical that you donít start off too hard since it is possible to negatively affect the rest of the race if you do too much too soon.  Knowing yourself and what you are capable of doing will help you to gauge how hard to go at the start of your next race.  Fortunately, by training for race starts you also learn just how hard you can go and how various intensities affect your ability to withstand such an effort over the long haul.

During the first 5-10 minutes of the race you will rely heavily upon your VO2Max fitness.  How hard youíre able to go and how quickly you can recover from such intensity depends upon how well youíve developed your maximum aerobic capacity.  By doing more VO2Max training youíll be able to withstand more time spent above your threshold and youíll also recover more rapidly from such efforts.  Letís take a look at some workout examples that will help to improve your fitness at VO2Max.

 

# of Sets

# of Intervals

Intervals Duration

Rest Duration

Interval Intensity

Rest Intensity

1

5-7

3 minutes

3 minutes

120+% of FTP, 9 or 10 RPE

<50% of FTP, Easy!

1

4-5

4 minutes

4 minutes

120+% of FTP, 9 or 10 RPE

<50% of FTP, Easy!

2-3

6-10

30 seconds

30 seconds

120+%  FTP, 9 or 10 RPE

76-90% FTP, 6 or 7 RPE

FTP = Functional Threshold Power, your maximum sustainable pace for 60 minutes

RPE = Rate of Perceived Exertion, using a 1-10 scale with 10 being a max effort 

There are two types of VO2Max workouts that I suggest. 1) Continuous work intervals followed by full recovery of the same duration.  This is the typical interval training that most are familiar with Ė go hard for a set time, then recover fully for a set time before repeating. 2) Intermittent training will have you change the intensity numerous times prior to taking a full rest.  The intensity will oscillate between VO2Max and Tempo meaning that the sequence will eventually become very challenging.  Continuous work intervals are hard right from the start whereas the intermittent approach allows you to build into it before the workload really catches up with you.  Both VO2Max training approaches will be effective so be sure to try and include both in your season preparations. 

I suggest doing numerous VO2Max training sessions within a two week block so that you can create a sufficient overload, but also one that doesnít go on too long.  It is intense training so be sure to recover adequately between such workouts.  With improvements to your maximum aerobic capacity, youíll certainly be more prepared to handle the first 5-10 minutes of your next XC race.  Establish your position early, but donít burn all of your matches in order to do so.  With each VO2Max workout youíll learn just how much youíre able to do so that on race day you can be wise with your pacing strategy.  Work hard, have fun, and the VO2Max training is sure to benefit your race starts.  Let me know how it goes for you!

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