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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Quick question on race week intensity…I know the Friel and others talk about cutting back volume but keeping intensity high in a peak or race week. My question is on the intensity. How high are we talking? For example, if the target event is a 4 hour endurance MTB race, do I want to match this level of intensity in the peak or race week, or take intensity even higher – say that of a shorter XC race? If I remember correctly, he (or maybe someone else that I read) talks about specificity in this regard and therefore I would match my target event...but I wanted to see what others thought. Thanks!
 

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For an "A" race, my week prior is really cut back on the volume. Usually something like 60min max each ride.
Monday - easy, z1
Tuesday - some Z5 short sprints, think 4x15sec with 1min off between
Wednesda - easy, z1
Thursday - z5 short sprints (same as Tuesday)
Friday - usally a travel day.

In my mind, I think of the body recognizing such an easy week that it wants to get lazy. The z5 sprints (sometimes called leg openers) is reminding the body that hard efforts are stiff needed. The key is to keep them short to still allow the body to rest prior to the event (and times, may differ depending on how much volume you have had leading up to this event).
 

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For an "A" race, my week prior is really cut back on the volume. Usually something like 60min max each ride.
Monday - easy, z1
Tuesday - some Z5 short sprints, think 4x15sec with 1min off between
Wednesda - easy, z1
Thursday - z5 short sprints (same as Tuesday)
Friday - usally a travel day.
I do something similar, except make Tuesday a "race sim" day. Either do a 20min all- out MTB or CX ride, or a 40min crit, or short race-pace road group ride (it really depends on A race type (mtb, road, crit, or CX)).

On a side note, i think a lot of cyclist fall into the trap of making every race an A race, which can be a problem if you're racing a lot. So when looking later at the whole season, if you took a lot of light weeks when they've could a been a full load week, then your peak for true A races are not to full potential.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I do something similar, except make Tuesday a "race sim" day. Either do a 20min all- out MTB or CX ride, or a 40min crit, or short race-pace road group ride (it really depends on A race type (mtb, road, crit, or CX)).
But if the target event is a longer, endurance race, will your race sim day still incorporate all out intensity (even though the target event won't be like that)? That's kinda what I'm trying to figure out...
 

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But if the target event is a longer, endurance race, will your race sim day still incorporate all out intensity (even though the target event won't be like that)? That's kinda what I'm trying to figure out...
You should probably do a 40min (or less) race sim then, just simulate your endurance race pace, especially how your expect the start to go. Go through your warm-up routine and everything. Even wear the clothing your gonna wear, CB, food, etc. It'd be best if you could do the race sim on the actual course.
 

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Great advice so far. The only thing I'd add is the general principle of not easing up too much before a race. You want your body to be able to recover from your typical workload, and this is accomplished most effectively by reducing volume more than intensity. Having said that, there is a balance to strike in all things and it is very much individual.

For me the best way to manage all of this is with the TSS (training stress score) metric. Of course this requires a power meter which is $$$, however it is the ideal scenario. They say you can't manage what you can't measure, so whether it be with power, heart rate or ride time/RPE (rate of perceived exertion), try to quantify your workload so you can replicate an effective taper from one week to the next.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Great advice so far. The only thing I'd add is the general principle of not easing up too much before a race. You want your body to be able to recover from your typical workload, and this is accomplished most effectively by reducing volume more than intensity. Having said that, there is a balance to strike in all things and it is very much individual.

For me the best way to manage all of this is with the TSS (training stress score) metric. Of course this requires a power meter which is $$$, however it is the ideal scenario. They say you can't manage what you can't measure, so whether it be with power, heart rate or ride time/RPE (rate of perceived exertion), try to quantify your workload so you can replicate an effective taper from one week to the next.
Totally agree. I do use a PM and TSS to try to quantify my taper. Only problem is my PMC isn't always spot on. Sometimes it says I should feel fresh when my legs are wasted and vice-versa. This is because as good as TSS scores and the PMC are, they simply can't take everything into account. For ex., your PMC doesn't know how much you have been sleeping, diet, stress, etc. By they way, everyone talks about volume reductions for a taper. I like to think of it in terms of workload reductions. I think this is more meaningful.
 

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I do as most have said, reduce volume and keep some intensity. I do make sure my cadence stays high during the intense efforts to avoid too much muscle tearing and breakdown in the days leading up to the race. I mainly focus on high intensity speed drills (technical and pedaling).
 

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I was just reading Friel's Race Week chapter last night. Seems everyone summed it up pretty well here. The recommended intensity should be less stressful and not leave one cooked. That's my plan this week anyway. I need to let myself recover, and make sure I don't break down muscle this week.
 
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