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How To Train For Timed Segment Racing – Enduros and Gran Fondos

By Syd Schulz
CTS Athlete and MTB Pro

Training for enduro is a unique puzzle because you need high-end power for short stages that last as little as five minutes, while also having the endurance for long days on the bike (sometimes as long as seven hours!). The road version of endure is called timed segment racing and it’s the way some gran fondo and sportive events are set up.

We sat down with our CTS Coach Mike Durner for a little Q & A about training for segment or on-off type of events. We also answer some specific questions about MTB enduro training and some more general questions about mountain bike training.

Here are the salient points from the video:

  1. How do you train for segments? Well, IT DEPENDS. As Mike says in the video, “it depends” is a coach’s favorite answer. This is why you should have a coach in the first place — so they can look at your unique situation and help you tackle your weaknesses. When it comes to enduro, focusing on your weaknesses is a good place to start. If you come from a cross-country background, you probably need to make downhill skills a focus of your training. Likewise, if you’re coming from a downhill background, you need to focus on your endurance.
  2. Strength training is HUGE for enduro racing (and helping you be more resilient for the inevitable crashes), but you don’t need a fancy gym. Body weight exercises, TRX and resourceful use of rocks can be everything you need. Mike recommends a focus on core strength and shoulder stability for enduro athletes.
  3. On-bike enduro training requires balancing longer intervals (to improve lactate threshold and overall fitness), with intervals that mimic the on-off nature of an enduro stage (i.e. PowerIntervals, SpeedIntervals). The latter are specifically important for making sure we can sprint in a stage without getting so gassed we immediately crash into a tree.
  4. Interval training is not enough! For an timed segment races, we need to be prepared for long climbs and long hours on the bike. For example, at the Big Mountain Enduro in Santa Fe, we climbed 4500 of steep fire roads and single track over the course of the day. Because of this, we need to make sure we are also scheduling big rides with long climbs into our training.

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