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Specific training for Ultra-races.

Ultra races are extremely demanding events and although you're unlikely to be riding anywhere near your 'normal' maximal capacity at any point, with the huge amount of baked in fatigue which builds up, it will certainly feel like you're working hard for quite large proportions of the event!


With this is mind, the more powerful and fatigue resistant you are, the better you will be able to perform during the event (and probably enjoy it more too!). Now obviously it goes without saying endurance (zone 2 riding) should make up a good portion of your training; but what else should you be focusing on to best utilise your training time? I am going to lay out 2 key sessions that should be staple parts of your plan and why:


Session 1 - High Torque Strength Session


High-torque cycling training sessions focus on developing strength and power in your leg muscles, particularly targeting your neuromuscular system. Torque efforts involve pushing a high resistance, by using low cadence (typically less than 60RPM) with a mix of seated and standing efforts. They are also particularly good at strengthening the knees, and core which will help prevent injury - one of the most common reasons for scratching an ultra event is knee related problems.


Warm up) 10-20minutes should be sufficient slowly increasing the intensity from a conversational pace all the way to getting a bit of a sweat on!


Main set 1) 6 x 3 minutes of low cadence (50-60RPM) at roughly 80% intensity focusing on smooth, controlled pedal strokes engaging both the upward and downward pedal stroke. Recover for 2 minutes between each of these intervals with very easy spinning and low resistance.


After your final 3 minute interval allow 5-10 minutes to recovery fully before beginning main set 2:


Main set 2) 8 x 15 second maximal seated sprints from a 'heavy' gear emphasizing an explosive effort. Allow 1-2 minutes recovery between each of these efforts depending on fitness level. A Heavy gear is a bigger gear than you would normally choose (one that is harder to turn initially).


Cool down) 10-15 minutes allowing your heart rate to drop gradually. Cooling down will aid your recovery by flushing metabolites that have built up over the course of the session from your muscles.


Session 2 - Sweetspot Session


Sweetspot training sessions are designed to target a specific intensity range that is just below your threshold power; providing a balance between aerobic development and manageable training stress. They are particularly useful for building your aerobic engine without the requirement for huge volume when, lets face it, everyone is time poor! Sweetspot will also develop your functional threshold meaning you will be able to work at a relatively lower intensity for the same power as you become stronger.


Warm up) Same as before 10-20minutes should be sufficient slowly raising the intensity from a conversational pace up to about 90% effort.


Main set ) 3 x 15 minutes at Sweetspot intensity with 5-10 minutes recovery between each block. Sweetspot is considered to be around 88-92% of Functional threshold power if you have a power meter but if you are training by feel it is around an 8 to 8.5 out of 10 perceived effort (depending on volume completed)


Cool down) After the final Sweetspot effort cool down for 10-15 minutes reducing the heart rate and maintaining a nice high fluid cadence.


As your training ramps up you can increase the Sweetspot volume in your sessions. It is also good practice, if you have the tools to make sure you periodically test to ensure you're training at the right intensity.


Need any help with this please get in touch via my Instagram or website contact form and if you like this content please leave a comment on the IG post! Thanks.


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