February
10

Top 3 Tips for Improving Your Enduro Racing Training Program

This off-season I’ve noticed a marked trend with the riders I work with via my Distance Coaching service. While I still get the usual DH, XC and marathon riders a large percentage of riders are training for Enduro Racing. I’ve seen the popularity of this type of racing grow, even getting to the point that the old Mountain States Cup series was shuttered and a new Enduro Racing Series has taken over here in Colorado.

Seeing how many of my clients are training for Enduros this off-season I figured there had to be a lot of my readers who were doing the same thing. After working with these riders – including Giant’s Enduro pro racer Kelli Emmitt – for a few months I’ve noticed myself giving a lot of them the same basic advice that I wanted to share with you.

BTW, even if you don’t race Enduros but just like to trail ride then you should still check out these tips, they work just as well for those of us who just like to hit the 1-2 hour trail ride a few times a week.

3 – Technical mistakes are harder to overcome than in a longer race. During an 1.5 – 2 hour XC race you have a lot more time to make up for a lack of skills with your fitness. In other words, you don’t have to be as sharp in corners and with technical trail features when you have a lot of opportunities to make up for it with pedaling fitness.

The extreme opposite of this is 4X/ Dual Slalom Races, which are less than a minute and are often decided by the gate start. One tiny slip up in this short of a race and you can go from 1st to last in a second.

While not as extreme as 4X/ Dual Slalom Racing, in a 10 – 20 minute Enduro stage everything is compressed and magnified compared to a longer XC race. You have fewer chances to make up for technical inefficiencies so you need to focus on that as much as your fitness.

Including skills training time in your training plan and having workouts that focus on the movement skills you need on the bike are all important things to help you with this.

2 – Develop the mindset you need by trail riding at the pace you want to race at. This means that when you go for a trail ride you should be riding as hard for 10-20 minutes, stopping to rest and repeating rather than trying to go the whole time without stopping.

You have to develop the mindset you need to live at the pace necessary to race Enduros. One of the reasons that riders with a strong DH racing background tend to do better at Enduros than those with a strong XC background – other than better skills as relating to Tip #3 above – is that they see the trail at a different pace. Where they mentally “live” on the trail when DH racing is closer to the speed and intensity needed during a fast paced Enduro stage compared to when the average XC racers “live” at.

So go like hell, stop and rest while enjoying the scenery and repeat. If you want to get better at pinning it for 10-20 minutes in your races then that is how you should ride.

1 – My number one tip for Enduro Racing is to purposefully train your ability to stand up and pedal. The stages are short enough that you should be able to stand up and power through them and not rely on seated pedaling to get you through them.

You’ll probably never get to where you are standing up all the time – and it isn’t really the goal – but you can get to the point where standing up is your go to pedaling position and you are only sitting down to get a “rest” before standing up for the next hard part. This also ties in nicely with Tip #2 above because those shorter bursts are easier to fit in when you are working on your standing pedaling fitness.

To sum it up you need to remember that skills, mindset and standing pedaling specific fitness are important factors in a successful Enduro Race. Over the course of the multiple stages/ days these things will compound on each other even more to give you an even bigger advantage.

On a side note, this is actually how you find yourself riding when you follow the Barefoot Pedaling philosophy of using a mid-foot position on your pedals (preferably flats most of the time and clipless for racing) and standing up more to pedal. Training riders to stand up more and improve their skills through smart strength and mobility training is something I’ve been advocating for years before Enduro racing became cool.

So what do you think? Got any thoughts or questions about these tips? If so just post a comment below, I always love to hear your thoughts.

And if you liked this post please click one of the Like or Share buttons below to help spread the word.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson
MTB Strength Training Systems

p.s. Oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention…I’m working on an Enduro Racing program that I’ll be ready to release in the next few weeks. Essentially an updated, juiced up Ultimate MTB Workout Program v5 with cardio workouts specific to the energy systems, a.k.a. cardio, needs of Enduro Racing it will have you ready to ride harder and faster when it comes time to lay it down on the competition.

Keep an eye out for more details…

The Ultimate MTB Workout Program

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  1. Jim says:

    Some great points there James. Makes great sense to train like you race.On a side note I have found fatbiking in the snow to be a blast but find that standing pedalling is much more difficult–seems the “feel” for when you are going to lose traction is gone. Do you have any techniques that are geared more for snow riding?

    Reply • February 10 at 5:23 pm
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      No snow riding specific tips, I’d imagine it is just going to have a smaller margin for error with your traction and tension at the pedals.

      Reply • February 13 at 9:16 am
  2. Allan says:

    Great advice. There’s something awesome about standing and pedaling. It must be the natural thing to do too –my teenagers seldom shift gears; they just standup for power.

    Reply • February 10 at 8:04 pm
  3. Ted says:

    If you were to session your rides to 10-20 min intervals, what would you recommend as rest if you are on a 2 hour ride?

    I’ve often wondered how to mix fitness training with fun rides and I think this is key.

    Thanks

    Reply • February 12 at 9:46 am
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      I recommend resting long enough to let your breathing get back down to the point you are no longer panting. As your cardio improves this recovery will take less time so the rest intervals will adjust as you get fitter.

      Reply • February 13 at 9:17 am
  4. David says:

    I think the part about training at the pace you want to race is the most important. I can ride sections of trail at the same pace as some of my pro friends but in races i got smoke by them last year as i had no experience of riding at that pace for a race distance.

    Reply • March 1 at 3:37 pm

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