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My Taper & Peak Phase for LT100

Post Series: Cody Waite

In my last post I wrapped up my 8-week Leadville 100 MTB build and was in the midst of a well earned 10-day recovery block to relax the mind, enjoy the family, and let my body absorb all the hard work from the previous 8 weeks.

Upon returning home from family vacation, I was more than ready to dive back in finish off my 2018 Leadville 100 MTB preparations. With just four weeks left until race day, this broke down into the following:

  • a BIG Volume “Over-Reach” Week
  • 1/2 Recovery + 1/2 Intensity Week (w/ Leadville Stage Race) 
  • Taper Week 
  • Peak Week

Over-Reach Week

Coming off of a nice long recovery block I was fresh (if not a little ‘flat’) and ready get going again. A good solid over-reach week (or two) is essential in creating an exceptional training load from which to recover from as you enter your taper phase. Normally in my training plans, following my 2-week mini-block progressions, the overload week comes as the final two-week block with an emphasis on the final big endurance rides. Intensity is all but eliminated to allow for maximum focus of going long, before entering the final two-week taper block into race day. 

With my schedule this year my plan was slightly modified from standard to include a family vacation, 5 weeks out from race day, and the 3-day Leadville Stage Race two weeks out from race day. Through thoughtful planning we made it all work with a big training build prior to vacation, and a big 1-week over-reach endurance week, packed with long rides to push the fitness and fatigue to a final extreme.

This week was planned as four 100+ mile, 10,000 feet climb days in the mountains over 5 days time with an easy day prior (to shake out the road trip/vacation stiffness). So over six days (Tuesday to Sunday) I would rack up 500 miles, 40k climb and sufficiently ‘over-reach’ my current fitness abilities.

Plans are great, but often the don’t go as originally drawn out on paper. It’s always important to listen to your own body and be able to make adjustments as you go so you don’t ‘over-do’ anything and set yourself back. As example, my first big ride was solid: exactly at 100 miles 10,000 feet climb around one of my favorite training loops. While the ride was great, I found myself particularly sluggish within the ride, and bit more sore and tired after the ride than expected. Basically the time off and the traveling left me pretty flat, and being nearly 40 years old now, I can’t just jump right back into big training like I used to.

Following this first ride, the plan called for a second day of big miles, followed by a short recovery & light lifting day, before tackling two more back-to-back big days. After a lot of contemplating what to do, and talking it through with Coach Kathy, we decided to let go of the ‘ideal numbers’ on the plan and listen to my body and be smart. This resulted in me taking the next day easy to recover, followed by a shorter interval & strength day to tap into the top-end just a bit, before the final two big endurance days. This made more sense in terms of recovery, injury avoidance, and being able to enjoy and get the most out of the long weekend of riding.

Wise move! I ended up getting in three great days of training (Fri-Sun) with the weekend made of two 120-mile out-and-back rides through the mountains with a couple of training partners that provided the perfect overload! In the end, I didn’t hit my ‘intended numbers‘, but I think I hit the ‘right numbers‘ for me: 400 miles, 38,000 feet climbed and almost 1200 tss, to hit my biggest week of the entire year. Overload accomplished!

Recover + Intensity

Following the previous big week I was ready for some recovery days. Light spinning and lighter strength work to keep the body moving. Basically with three weeks to go I was starting my taper. After the recovery days, I was ready to inject some intensity into the plan with 3-days of racing the Leadville Stage Race. This ended up being a super fun event and the perfect high intensity/endurance stimulus combo as part of my overall taper.

Much to my surprise I raced quite well. I was able to hang for a while each day with the top-three pros (all in their 20s) and found myself pedaling really well. I was able to finish 4th overall in the stage race and 1st the 30-39 AG. I also was able to test some equipment, nutrition and pacing strategies over the same race course I’ll be peaking for in two weeks time. Everything worked out as I had hoped and upon the conclusion of the week I was feeling positive and motivated for race day!

Taper Week

The final two-weeks going into race day are all about decreasing the overall training load (volume) while maintaining the intensity with twice a week interval/intensity sessions. I will also maintain some strength/muscle activation with gym sessions. Taper Week looks like this:

  • Monday – 1 hour Recovery Spin
  • Tuesday – 45 minute Gym Session + 1 hour Recovery Spin
  • Wednesday – 2.5 hour Race Prep Intervals:
    • Targeting Anaerobic Threshold, Vo2 Max & Anaerobic Power energy systems with sets of 4 intervals each of 1/2 ‘training phase’ durations (1/2 the overall load compared to a ‘training day’ vs. ‘tapering’)
  • Thursday – 1 hour Recovery Spin + Massage
  • Friday – 45 minute Gym Session + 1 hour Recovery Spin
  • Saturday – OPTIONAL 90 minute XC race (local) or 2 hour Race Prep Intervals:
    • Sets of 3 intervals, similar to Wednesday
  • Sunday – 3-4 hour endurance ride for endurance maintenance

Peak Week

(aka Race Week!)  Not a whole lot to do here other than keep the legs spinning and get two short Race Prep rides in with just enough intensity to keep the engine firing and running smooth. Here’s the plan:

  • Monday – 1 hour Recovery Spin
  • Tuesday – 30 minute Gym Session + 45 minute Recovery Spin
  • Wednesday – 1.5 hour Race Prep Intervals:
    • Targeting Anaerobic Threshold, Vo2 Max & Anaerobic Power energy systems with sets of 2 intervals each of 1/2 ‘training phase’ durations (1/4 the overall load compared to a ‘training day’ vs. ‘tapering’)
  • Thursday – 45 minute Recovery Spin + Massage
  • Friday – 1 hour Race Prep Intervals:
    • 1x each 4:00 Anaerobic Threshold, 2:00 Vo2 Max (low), 1:00 Vo2 Max (high), 0:30/0:15/0:05 Anaerobic Power
  • Saturday – RACE DAY!
  • Sunday – Recovery Spin

Other than minimal amounts of training, the rest of the week is about organizing gear, maximizing sleep, hydrating and eating the best possible food that will leave me feeling light, strong and fully prepared for race day.

That’s the plan. This should leave me with the best possible chance to reach my peak on race day, August 11th. This will be the conclusion of my 2018 training/racing season (although I may jump into one or two end-o-season races for fun). I’ll follow this up with a race day breakdown of how things played out as well. My hope is that my collection of posts from this year (links at top) provide some insights to what a highly structured training season looks like and what the end results are. I’m a big fan of structured training and hope this can help to inspire others to see the same value in the results.

 

Cody Waite, Professional Off-Road Endurance Athlete & Coach
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