Now I'm Terrified -- TransRockies Related

Ever since getting serious about endurance sports back in 1999, I started using a book titled "Endurance Athletes Edge" by Marc Evans to help design my training programs. The book provides a step-by-step way to develop your own periodization training program and includes dozens of pages of tables and data for various intensity zones for swimming, cycling, and running. The book is complex, features numerous calculations (some with numbers containing seven decimal places) and is extremely scientific. It's a book that only a real number-loving data-geek could ever understand or put to use. And it works. Although it would often take me several days to design a plan for the upcoming season, I used the book for several years and not only never got injured, but saw steady improvement and actually started to achieve a decent amount of success at the age-group level.

I dug the book out of the closet the other day and sat down to use it again for the first time in several years -- the sole purpose being to design a training program to help me prepare for TransRockies. The only problem I ran into was that I couldn't complete the first step in the process: deciding on a weekly training volume. The book has min/max suggested volumes for each of the triathlon distances (sprint distance up to Ironman) that you might be training for. But TransRockies is uncharted territory. You can't train for it as a standalone 350 mile race, but you also can't train for it like a 50 mile race since you're doing 7 of them in succession. Furthermore, ten miles on a mountain bike is often equivalent to twenty miles on a road bike. I think you begin to see my dillema.

So I Googled the author and found the website for his coaching service. Marc Evans is a former World Champion triathlete, director of the IronMan world championships, and a coach for over twenty years. He's one of the premier names in the sport, and author of several books. Was there any chance he would answer an email from some no-namer like me who was, essentially, soliciting free coaching advice? You betcha.

I wrote to him this afternoon, explaining my situation. I told him briefly about TransRockies, that I could train up to 25 hours or so for the race per week, and that I loved his book. Then I asked him what type of weekly volume should I use for calculating my periodization plan and, if he wouldn't mind, could he suggest a percentage of time I should spend on the mountain bike versus the road bike.

He replied within three hours. And, to be perfectly honest, his reply has me terrified. Here it is for full impact.


You're really training for the Tour de France... I'd think in terms of hours---not distance. And your plan should condense workouts sequentially over time. That is workouts that are bunched together---day after day like the event.

Look at what your time each day will be and design from this estimate. I don't think you need to match it exactly but getting some workouts close would be beneficial.

I'd do most of my work on the mtb with the longer recovery work on the road.


You're really training for the Tour de France... You're really training for the Tour de France... You're really training for the Tour de France... You're really training for the Tour de France...

Those words have not stopped flashing before my eyes since opening the email. A siren is going off in my brain, and I've broken out in a sweat. One of the biggest names in endurance sports, the coach of the best and most legendary triathletes, and holder of patents in some of the best-selling training equipment is telling me that I need to think as if I'm really training for Le Tour. Oh #%&@!

Moving past the Tour comment (as if that's possible), he really provided some great advice. I was thinking that I needed to base the plan more on time and not distance, but I've always hated that approach to training. Time I learn to adapt, I guess. Also, it's good to see him recommend spending more time on the mountain bike -- it's not always as convenient as hopping on the road bike, but it is more fun. Anyway, as ridiculously awkward and uncomfortable as I feel right now, I do feel a little relieved too. I now have the answer towards moving forward with the creation of the plan (oddly enough, using time instead of distance in periodization training is the foundation of Evans' competitor's book "SERIOUS Training for Endurance Athletes" which I never liked) and now I know that there's really no way I can overtrain for TransRockies.


Criscipline said...

LOL - Feeling a little in over your head?

Fran said...

Looking at your mileage and race schedule for 2007 so far, I'd say you have nothing to worry about... except the hike-a-bikes.
You could almost just train on your road bike for the endurance, and then find a steep mountain to PUSH your mtn bike up for the type of training that you'll need in that area.
Make sure you have good shoes that fit really well and are already broken in (though, if they do fit really, really good you might get away with breaking them in during the race - which you will).
A friend and I did 5.5/7 days of the 2003 race, and the whole thing in 2005. See you in Spokane for the 24, and good luck! (We're just doing a 10 man team for the fun of it this year.)

Doug Walsh said...

Thanks for the comment, Fran.

I have a few very long hike-a-bike routes I plan to train on this summer as I know that is going to be one of the most difficult aspects and likely one that could make or break our day on the trail.