As nutritional sponsor of "12 and 24 Hours of Exposure", we at TORQ have been asked a lot questions on how one might train and fuel one's self for such an event? It just happens to be the case that TORQ's 'Matt Hart' entered the 2011 edition of the event and documented their preparation meticulously in Singletrack magazine. This article first appeared in February 2011 issue 63, with subsequent articles in issue 64 and 65. If you contact Singletrack direct, you'll be able to pick up back issues without a problem (they'll even e-mail it to you on a PDF if you want).
We will be covering the subject of 'fuelling' in this series of articles, but if you do want a head start, TORQ are offering you a FREE copy of their Performance Resource (worth £5), which will help you to formulate a feeding strategy for the event and understand the kinds of nutritional products you will need to use. All you have to do is e-mail enquiries(at)torqfitness.co.uk and enter 'Free TORQ Performance Resource' into the subject header and we'll send you an environmentally-friendly PDF by return.
We wish you all the best for the event and hope you enjoy the series of articles. Also, we'll be there, so 'see you on the start line'...
Matt Hart, TORQ Fitness
If you're going to have a good crack at the event this year you need to get stuck straight into this training. If you're reasonably fit at the moment you have time to prepare well for this event. As we're now into February, if you want to race well at 12 Hours of Exposure on 7th April, you'll need to do something like this:
This is all about building your endurance and your ability to burn fat as a fuel. The more power you get from fat, the more efficient you're going to be, the less invasive you'll be on your carbohydrate stores and the harder and faster you'll be able to ride the 12-hour without blowing up.
Ultimately, base is the most imprtant component of fitness for an event like this, so that should be the focus. During this phase, we do also stick in at least one mixed paced rider per week, because we want to keep the anaerobic system awake. If it goes to sleep completely, it really does take some rousing, so best not go there.
If you don't do any speed-work, you become very 'one speed' and although it's not a huge issue with an event like this, ultimately you can get a measured dose of power from your anaerobic system, you will ride faster and get a better result. It's also a useful 'get out of jail free' card in that it provides you with effortless instant power on tap to get up short steep climbs or through boddy/sandy setions. You may not need to call on your anaerobic power very often in a 12-hour, but having some grunt to hand when you need it is very useful indeed.
During this phase, the idea is to overload your boady with the highest training load to date. Combining some speed-work with high volume base rides of increasing duration should leave you exhausted at the end of this phase and ready for a hard-earned break.
This is the easy bit. You'll do very little during this phase and the idea is that as your body recovers and re-energises, you'll be on cloud nine by the time the day of the event arrives, full of enthusiasm and bursting with energy.
Below is an example of the basic training structure, working on two high load weeks followed by a low load week and then back to two high load weeks again. The idea is that by the end of the high load cycle you will have accumulated quite a lot of tiredness, so then need to schedule an easier week to allow the body to recover and adapt. As you'll see from the plan below you do have days off during the high load phase, so that with good nutrition you can bounce back pretty strongly after each session, but at a deeper level, mentally and physically, you need a low load week to collect your thoughts and allow your hormonal and immune system to readjust. This makes you stronger for the next rotation where the training load will be higher than the previous high load phase. This kind of structure progression is essential if you're going to make youself stronger.
If you want to follow a similar structure, then use the high and low load weeks below as a guide. You'll notice the time spent on each session has been deliberately left out because you've got to do what's right for you. If you currently ride for five hours per week on average, it's pointless starting on any more than six. However, as you get stronger, you can build in more volume and push to levels of training volumes that you didn't think possible. Be systematic and logical. If you're really knackered, give yourself some extra time off during your low load week - it won't hurt to take some time off if you're really tired, to give yourself time to recharge. As a rule, don't ride for longer than 2-3 hours on the Zone3 or Mixed Pace rides. With Zone 2, the sky's the limit!
You can make the low load week easier if you feel really tired. On the 'Off' days, if you have time, you can ride at Zone 1 for 30 minutes practicing your pedalling technique and/or technical skills.