EPC Tips - Training for the XTERRA USA Championship
By Cody Waite
With September approaching fast it is time to gear up for the XTERRA USA Championship! The Ogden venue is a favorite among most XTERRA athletes as the mountain scenery is breath taking, the leaves are changing to bright red and yellow colors, and the air is crisp and cool. With a season of training and racing under your belt now, it's time to dial your training in specifically for what the Utah course demands...HILLS!
The course at Snowbasin does have a lot of climbing, but it comes in reasonable doses and grades. The swim is a standard two-lap swim (without an exit and run between laps). The water is perfect for swimming usually in the upper 60's. Don't over exert yourself in the water as to save your energy for the big bike ride that follows. Once on the bike you get a few miles of flat terrain to find your legs before the climbing begins. The first climb is about 15 minutes long up a rocky canyon two-track. Then you pop out on the mountain base and enter singletrack that climbs fairly gradually, where you can maintain some good momentum. Then after a 2 mile downhill, you get some more gradual climbing up to the ski area. From the ski area you begin some strenuous climbing for 15 minutes or so before a technical mountain traverse and final downhill into T2. The Ogden bike course is a fitness course for the most part. This means you really want to emphasize riding at just under your lactate threshold for long periods of time in your training. You will be able to keep a fairly constant power output on the bike. This can be trained by performing longer steady-state intervals of 10-20 minutes in length at your lactate threshold (just where you begin to breath hard and hurt a little). Doing these intervals on climbs is best, but the flats into a headwind or with a slightly bigger gear will work well too. Begin with 2 or 3 intervals and build from there up to as many as 4 to 6 intervals over the course of a long ride. Performed 1-2 times a week for the next 4 weeks will give you a big boost in bike power come race day!
Once off the bike, the run begins with a 8-10 minute climb right out of T2. Then you run along some fast rolling singletrack, before hitting another small climb, rolling some more and then the final big descent to the finish. Climbing is important on the run in Ogden, but equally important is maintaining a high turn over (leg speed) on the rollers and descents. Your run training should include a weekly hill day for strength and a weekly speed day with some short fast intervals on the flats for leg speed. The hill workout could include 6-10 by 2 to 4 minute climbs near your max effort. Done on a fairly steep climb if possible for maximum strength gains. Use a walk/jog recovery back down the hill before beginning the next one. The speed workouts should include several 20-30 second long intervals at your maximum stride rate. Not all-out sprints, but rather a focus on quick feet. Doing these on a slight decline (downhill) works well to help increase the leg speed. Another good run to include in the final weeks before the race is a longer endurance paced run after a bike ride. This run will ensure you have the staying power late in the race when you really need it!
It's just over 5 weeks until race day. Time to focus up and get your training as specific as possible to allow to have a great race. With the base you have built over the spring and summer, along with the workout suggestions mentioned above, you should find yourself coming to a nice peak by late September. As the race nears, also be sure to allow for plenty of rest and recovery between your key workouts so you gain make the gains you looking for. Good luck and have fun!
Cody Waite, Endurance Performance Coaching