On 30-31 May, Donington Park will play host to BikeRadar Live – a massive festival aimed at every sort of cyclist. One of the highlights will be the Whyte Night Eight til Eight, a 12-hour mountain bike endurance race.
With huge cash prizes up for grabs and a prize draw for a Whyte E-120 XT mountain bike, this is going to be a hotly contested event. You'll need skill and truckloads of leg and lung power if you're to come out on top. The 5km course designed by four-time national champ Will Longden includes wooded sections, rock gardens and man-made obstacles.
There are two options. You can either enter the four-hour category or go for the full-on 12-hour slog. Either way, you’ll need to be prepared if you want to get round without collapsing, so here is the first half of our 10-week training program to get you in top shape. If you want to ride at BikeRadar Live, you'll need to start this program on Monday, 23 March.
On the bike: Do 2-3 rides between 1-3 hours in duration
- Find a decent cross-country (XC) loop near you or even out on the road and try to ride continuously for this duration. This training does not have to speciﬁcally focus on the distances being covered each time; it’s the time on the bike that’s important.
- Complete these rides at 60-70 percent of your maximum heart rate (HRM). This can be estimated by subtracting your age from 220. This will ensure you’re working fully aerobically (working from the oxygen you’re breathing in) and should feel comfortable but still be enough to get you breathing deeply and working up a sweat.
- Try to space the rides throughout the week rather than over a few days. Try to leave at least a day in between each, as rest and recovery is vital at every stage of training.
Core workouts: Begin with 1-3 sessions a week and include 25 push-ups, 25 sit-ups and 30 burpees (see diagrams below)
- The core in its most simple terms includes muscles such as the abdominals, pectorals, deltoids, biceps, triceps and lats (the main muscles around the trunk and in the arms). Building muscular endurance in the core will enable you to maintain posture on the bike while you’re riding for hours on end and it will also help hone your skills as you will be able to move the bike around more freely and easily.
- It’s always essential you complete a short warm-up that includes some stretching before any of these core workouts are attempted. These sort of numbers are a good target but it’s a good idea to start out with what you feel comfortable with and then progress from there.
Lie face-down on the ground. Support your body on the balls of your feet and position your hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Keep your arms straight but not locked. With a straight back, bend your elbows to lower yourself to the ground. Just before your chest touches the ground, straighten your elbows to push yourself back up to the start position.
There are numerous ways to perform these. The one shown here is a good starting point. Lie on the ﬂ oor. Have your knees bent and feet placed at on the ground. Place your hands over your knees. Tighten your abdominal muscles gently by drawing in your belly button to your spine. Keeping your heels on the ground and your toes ﬂat to the ground, slowly and gently lift your head ﬁrst, followed by your shoulder blades. Pull up from the ﬂ oor about half way and hold the position for a second. Slowly return to the starting position.
Stand holding your hands at your sides. Bend down until your hands touch the ﬂ oor, then kick your feet behind you into a push-up position. Do a push up, then bring your feet back underneath you and jump up. Land softly and move into your next repetition.
On the bike: 2-3 rides between 2-3 hours in duration at around 70 percent of your HRM
- Each week you should aim to increase the duration and intensity of the rides in order to help you prepare for the big race. Making the small increases is a gentle way to help the body adjust and help to tolerate the distances being covered.
Core workout: 2-3 sessions of 35 push-ups, 35 sit-ups and 40 burpees
- It's good practice to gradually increase the repetitions each week along with the frequency of sessions in order for your body to develop rather than simply become accustomed to the demand.
- As with week 1, try to space the rides across the week to ensure your body does not get too fatigued.
On the bike: 2-3 rides between 2.5-3.5 hours duration at around 70 percent of your HRM
- Keeping your HRM consistent will ensure you are consistently training to your maximum capabilities, and the slow increase in duration is again great practice for the long slog ahead.
Core workout: 2-3 sessions of 45 push-ups, 45 sit-ups and 50 burpees
- It is the gradual increase in numbers that is important here; too much too soon can result in injury and delaying the training progress.
- Keep it steady throughout and only do what feels comfortable.
On the bike: 2-3 rides between 3-4 hours duration at around 70 percent of your HRM
- The duration slowly creeps up as we get into week four. It’s vital that you attempt these sorts of distances earlier rather than later to give yourself a good idea as to how much work you have left to do.
Core workout: 3 sessions of 50 push-ups, 50 sit-ups and 60 burpees
- If you feel that this is an adequate place to level off the amount of repetitions then do so, but ensure you maintain the frequency of sessions and keep them going because this will benefit you no end.
On the bike: 2-3 rides between 3.5-4.5 hours duration at around 70 percent of your HRM
- These first five weeks aim to give you a solid base from which to work, so getting your head around these new lengths of time in the saddle is essential.
Core workout: 3 sessions of 55 push-ups, 55 sit-ups and 60 burpees
- If you feel comfortable enough to increase the core workouts then do so, because it will only beneﬁt your ﬁtness in the long run.