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Hey everyone,

What does everyone think about the relative training benefit of the following sessions? I’ve de-prioritized my formal training this year due to work commitments, but gladly attend group rides/races because I find it much easier to get motivated to train when riding alongside other people.

• Mountain Bike Races (usually 30 min warmup + 50 min race + 10 min cooldown)
• Structured interval sessions (ie: 10*3on, 3 off)
• Crit Races – about 45 minutes in length
• Hammerhead road group rides – around 2 hours in length

I am at a fitness level now where the crit races and hammerhead road rides are exceptionally challenging just to hang on… on every climb and after every corner I feel like I am going to get dropped (but manage to stay in top third of the pack)… so these feel like a very very hard workout to me.
 

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How are your technical skills?

If you are already really good with your technical skills, the crit races may be excellent for you. Otherwise, I think racing your mountain bike is the best way to get yourself in better mountain biking racing shape (assuming the competition is up to your level already).

Interval sessions and group rides on the road can be intense, but I think racing takes it to a whole new level of intensity. I'd say go race. Lots of endurance athletes first build a big base and then go polish off their training by racing to get prepared for a goal race or big event.
 

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I like doing one controlled session and 1 or 2 uncontrolled session once a week. (during build periods).

Controlled - Tuesday will work a fitness area specifically: sprinting, long hills, time trial, long MTB climbs, tempo, etc, etc. etc. I like this because it is really time efficient and you can really concentrate on something. Don't have to coordinate people. I usually work on lactate threshold stuff.

Uncontrolled - Thursday, I've been crit racing. It's close, short, convienent, and cheap (60 bucks for 15 race series). Great for working bike handling, pack skills, team tactics, speed, RPM, power, anaerobic capacity, hard effort recovery, and VO2 max efforts. Not so directly great for lactate threshold, unless your off the back trying not to get lapped.

Uncontrolled - Saturday I like to MTB race, or a hard MTB group ride. Works endurance and skills at the same time. I like around 3 hrs of ride time. Also, pretty good for LT due to long climbs in my area (last weekend had over 4000ft of total climbing).

I've found that long road group rides to be the least beneficial; great for endurance, but bad for crit racing pop, and MTB skills. Not so directly good for lactate threshold due to off/on nature. Also, when done midweek, it can waste me for other short workouts I want to do.
 
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