Russell Finsterwald stage racing podcast

Russell Finsterwald: Training Strategies For Stage Races

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About This Episode:

In this week’s episode, Adam Pulford interviews Russell Finsterwald for part 2 of their discussion on training for single-day and stage races. Russell goes in-depth on how he prepares differently and prioritizes recovery for stage racing. 

Listen to part one on single-day races here.

Episode Highlights:

  • Training approach for multi-day events
  • Recovery strategies for stage races
  • How to adjust your nutrition and hydration
  • Tapering for stage races

Guest Bio – Russell Finsterwald:

Russell Finsterwald has been racing bikes since the age of 13 and professionally for the last nine years. Russell has accumulated 5 National Championships, a Pan American Games Championship, over 40 professional podiums, was named to the 2016 US Olympic Long Team, and has represented the United States in seven World Championships. He is the current XCM National Champion. When not training for races, Russell can be found enjoying the mountains he grew up in. Russell has climbed over 60 of Colorado’s highest peaks, is an avid photographer, bike packer, backpacker, and all around outdoor enthusiast.

Read More About Russell Finsterwald:

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCM7R4JQRjE14X1uIBt9ExRw

Clif Pro Team: https://www.clifbar.com/athletes/russell-finsterwald

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/finsty/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/finstyMTB

Twitter:https://twitter.com/finsty

 

Listen to the episode on Apple PodcastsSpotifyStitcherGoogle Podcasts, or on your favorite podcast platform


Thanks To This Week’s Sponsor:

Stages Cycling

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Episode Transcription:

Please note that this is an automated transcription and may contain errors. Please refer to the episode audio for clarification.

Adam Pulford (00:00):

Welcome back train writers, just a quick intro here to remind you that you’re about to listen to part two of single day versus multi-day methods with Russell Fenster world Finsta. As many of us call him in the mountain bike world is a well decorated. Multi-time us national champ, across multiple disciplines in the sport. And with his years of racing and working with CTS coach Jim layman, they have a well tuned process that I wanted to share with you all. So put your headphones on, settle into your intervals, long ride hike, or wherever you’re at and enjoy part two with [inaudible]. All right. So back to, uh, so back to like the multi-day races, you talked about Breck epic you’re we’re, we’re basically saying anything that’s beyond one day. Uh, but what are you in layman considering when prepping for stage races and the multi-day approach?

Russell Finsterwald (00:58):

I think a lot of it comes down to the overall load and demands of the event. Um, something like Breck epic, that’s five hard days in the saddle. Um, so we’ll typically train by doing a lot of hard days in the saddle. Um, that way when you get to the race, you’re confident that you can go hard for five days. You know, how your body responds, say after three hard days, maybe, maybe you’re only able to push three hard days in that fourth day. You need to like back it off a little bit, and then you can go all out the last day. Um, so just kind of understanding a lot of it comes down to really understanding your body and how it works in different, um, load environments. Um, but yeah, like Breck epic. I like, I really enjoy doing long endurance rides. Um, so we’ll, we just factor in a lot of long, hard endurance rides. Um, those are good opportunities for me to get to explore new trails and riding new places. So, um, I love that training block.

Adam Pulford (01:55):

Yeah, that’s it. I mean, it certainly is. Um, the, the fin STI go-to, uh, I was going to say your, your training partners back in Colorado Springs, too. They’re, they’re pretty, pretty sturdy to, to, to train with as well. You get, um, the Wolf pack, but also there’s quite a few people have, uh, that can push some Watts around there too, right?

Russell Finsterwald (02:16):

Yeah, definitely. I feel lucky to, um, live where I live both in the summer and in the winter, in the winter here in Tucson, we have the shootout group ride that goes every weekend. And, um, you never know what kind of pros are going to show up. It’s some of the hardest days on the bike is just sometimes riding the draft of the shootout. Um, and then yeah, back home in Colorado, we there’s a lot of people who will come in through town. We have a really strong group ride as you know, on the weekends. Um, so I like implementing group rides into the training as much as possible. Cause you just, um, when you’re either trying to put someone in the pain cave or, um, just dig that little extra bit group rides are a great place to, um, just push yourself to different levels that you can’t do riding by yourself. Um, both from physical and mental standpoint, I think.

Adam Pulford (03:02):

Yeah, absolutely. And then when you’re, when you mentioned about like, say five hard days in a row, um, when we’re talking about training, typically we’ll refer to that as like a block training, right? It’s a five day block. And after that comes, probably some, you know, focused recovery two, three days easy before you start the next block. And so when you enter in training partners or group rides into that, I think it, it allows you to go beyond what you probably think as well as you are continually exploring and should explore like how your body is feeling normally it’s like, if you get next to somebody and you’re struggling, you know, like pushing each other up the hill, I mean, you, you normally find something that wouldn’t be there if you’re riding solo, correct me if I’m

Russell Finsterwald (03:45):

Wrong. Totally. Yeah, no, I, um, a hundred percent agree with that. Um, motor pacing is another tool that Jim and I use and that for the same reason, you’re, you’re only focused while you’re doing that effort is to hold onto the wheel and not get dropped by the motor. Um, so yeah, that’s a good way that Jim gets out and tortures me. Um, I love motor pacing as well for that same reason, just because you can kinda tune yourself out and not focus on riding a certain power or, um, getting in a solid hour at a high intensity. You just focus on holding that wheel and whoever’s driving the Modo. They normally sorta know your goal for that workout and they can kinda just twist the throttle and inflict the pain on you.

Adam Pulford (04:31):

So when you’re talking about, like, if we go back to some of the same, say concepts for the single day approach, we’re talking about performance, fitness recovery, let’s start with performance. If you’re looking for a key performance marker in a certain workout like that it’s is it for you in gym? Is it less focused on that power output? And it’s more about the feel and are you holding wheels and are you holding up or what, what are you guys looking for there?

Russell Finsterwald (04:59):

I think a lot of what we look for is like bouncing back and being able to do, um, workouts the next day. Um, a lot of times I’ll do one of the kind of classic workouts we do as a five by 12 minute over-under workout. And he’ll typically get me that two days in a row. Um, so a lot of the things we look at is how did I do the second day? Did my power drop or, um, was it the same or did it get a little better? And that kind of helps indicate on how I’m responding to multiple days of load. Um, when I’m writing really good going into a stage race, I actually am able to do more on the second day. Um, so for me, I’ve kind of found that’s a good indicator is when I’m able to actually produce more power in these intervals the second day after, um, getting the same workout in the day before.

Adam Pulford (05:48):

Yeah. And how that works for listeners. Like why four by 12 and how could you push more power on the second day? Well, it comes back to some of that, that fitness inform, and you’re also mentioned TSB. There, there’s some things that you can look at in terms of bringing an athlete in fresh to a race or in this situation, like a training block. And if Russell comes in fresh, maybe even a little stale because Jim wants him to do a five day block and it’s about the five day. It’s not just about the one day, he’s probably starting with four by 12, which is around 48 or 50 minutes a threshold, which should be a physiological, like maximum for Russell. And he might feel like a little blocked up on day one, or like maybe hidden the ranges, but not in, but with an elite athlete, come in on day two with good recovery habits of, he opens up on that first day and then he’s going to perform better on the second day and he can end, Jim’s still, you know, trying to max out that threshold on the given day. Cause he also should be able to do between 45 and 60 minutes of threshold on that second day. So that’s, that’s the rationale that I think gin is bringing into that. Meanwhile, whether Russell hits, you know, exceeds on day two or doesn’t, I would, from my standpoint, I’m just going to observe the athlete and I probably won’t change anything anyway. I want to see how he responds over time. And is that something that you would agree with in that process Russell?

Russell Finsterwald (07:10):

Definitely. For sure. Yeah. Yeah. Okay.

Adam Pulford (07:13):

So just, I just wanted to, uh, describe, um, why you were probably doing like a four by 12 and anybody can, if properly set training ranges. Yeah. They should do four by 12. That’s good. Maybe the next day three by 12 of you. If you’re not a professional athlete, cause you might be a little fatigued, but

Russell Finsterwald (07:28):

Anyway, yeah, Jim does that with me too. Like normally the first day will be, um, five by 12 and especially the deeper we get into the block where you’re like, uh, if you’re on your third set of five day pushes, um, normally he’ll kinda ease up on me and maybe the second day I get to do four instead of five or something like that. So fatigue. Right. And it’s also one of those mental things. Like if you really struggled on doing all five of them the day before you, you just say, oh, I only have four tomorrow, that’ll be quite a bit easier. Um, so yeah, a lot of it, I think is also just these little mental games, um, that you’re able to just squeeze more out of your workouts and, um, get through training blocks by doing little things like that.

Adam Pulford (08:15):

Yup. Yup. Um, before on the single day stuff, we were talking about a fitness or perhaps a feel for you to optimally, uh, come into a single day event. Is that different for a multi-day? I mean, are you, are you looking at, are you looking at this time in algorithm, fitness measurement or are you still kind of going by feel,

Russell Finsterwald (08:36):

Um, I’d say still going by feel for the most part? Um, yeah. I just like going by feel on a lot of things. So yeah, just, um, focusing on, I think a lot of it is it just comes down to recovery at the end of the day and focusing on making sure you’re staying fueled and feeling well the next day, like your body aches or something, that’s a good sign that you’re not recovering well. And um, if you get on the bike and you feel like you’re struggling, maybe it’s a good indicator that maybe you need to take a chill day and not push through it. Um, see if I like really crack on the workout, go home. And I feel like the next day I still feel like I haven’t recovered. That’s normally when I’ll call Jim and say, Hey, I think we may have overdone it I’m, I’m cracked. And then take, take a day off and get back at it the next day. Um, and I’m, I’m sure there are some sort of devices or something that I could get a value by, um, seeing that with numbers and science. Um, but I like to just go by feel.

Adam Pulford (09:35):

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, I’ll shoot everybody straight here. It’s like, you know, there’s, there’s plenty of devices in, in science out there on, on the marketing and I’m not, um, I will always advocate for science and data. However, when it comes to racing and performance, you know, if you crack say in a race and you don’t have all those instruments, you know, handy with you, um, a lot of it’s still between the, the years and making sure that you get sleep because if you crack, that means you’re tired. So optimize control what you can control. Like Russell said, get your sleep, get the nutrition, get the hydration, focus on recovery, get your sleep and then come back and fight again the next day. Cause that’s, that’s raising them.

Russell Finsterwald (10:16):

Yeah, totally. And with that said like I, I do tune into numbers on certain things like a power hour powers, the one thing I’m super into. And I think that goes for most athletes. So I think there’s always a need and a call for data in certain aspects. Um, um, I’m just a big fan of the, keep it simple. Keep it stupid principle.

Adam Pulford (10:35):

Yeah, for sure. Um, and, and you know, Jim also is dear friend. I’ve known him for, I don’t know, 15 plus years as well. Um, and so I, I know kind of the background is I know a little bit of his, a little bit of his process of what’s going through here, which is why it’s a unique interview to be able to, uh, talk with Russell, um, in that way. And it’s also a good example of how the coach athlete relationship. Um, they can keep it simple because Jim has more of a complex approach, but it still allows Russell to kind of be himself and keep it simple to focus on the race, the kind of the art of racing, so to speak. And that’s, that’s what I want the listeners to feel and understand about this, uh, this interview here. Um, and so kind of, but so back to the numbers, Russell, um, my last question, when it comes to quantifying a fitness or a load or something that you’re looking at, um, I know you’re into power and all that kind of stuff, but is there an overall volume that you’d be focused on or hang your hat on that you’d want to be doing say a week before, two weeks before a month before something like Breck epic.

Adam Pulford (11:42):

That is, I mean, it’s not super, super long, but it’s like pretty solid duration every day for a week. So is there a volume aspect that you’re looking at,

Russell Finsterwald (11:54):

Um, like in terms of hours or TSS,

Adam Pulford (11:56):

Like time in the saddle?

Russell Finsterwald (11:58):

Yeah. Um, again, it kind of depends on like what my schedule looks like going into it sometimes. Um, one year I did Breck epic. I was doing like a world cup, like two world cups and then a proxy tea. And I flew to Breck epic the night after proxy tea and started at the next day. So obviously like that year didn’t get the same prep. I would like, I was focused on Breck, epic as a peak race. That year is more like I’d never done a stage race was going there for the experience. Um, so it really depends on what I have going into the schedule. Um, but ideally if I had four weeks with no training going into Breck epic, um, I would like to probably do two 25 hour weeks or so. Um, I think that’d be a good sweet spot for, um, getting a similar cause obviously Breck epic. I think our race time is under 20 hours total. Um, so you’d want to do a little more just to get that same load cause that in 25 hours I would probably do similar TSS is what I would do in Breck epic. So if I do two weeks of that, pretty hard, I feel like I would go into Breck pretty well prepared for that race.

Adam Pulford (13:03):

Yeah. And that’s, and that’s the takeaway right? There is even if you’re not into fancy algorithms, just like what Russell sussed out there was like, okay, if I’m going to be racing X amount of time, I know I need to probably do a little bit over that in order to get the total stress in the system before I raise it. And so yeah, in Rosell races a lot throughout the year. So if he’s got a clean slate, no racing for four weeks leading into a stage race, that’s, that’s awesome. That’s a wonderful way to do it. Um, so nutrition, hydration, um, during stage racing, I mean, is this all the same as it was like on single day or how does it different throughout the race or throughout the race

Russell Finsterwald (13:45):

Itself? Yeah, I think my hydration and nutrition strategy in the race pretty much stays the same. Um, I think like something like Breck epic or not, or even like Pike’s peak apex, those stages are a little shorter. Um, it’s kind of like a mix of, it’s kind of this middle ground where it’s not a ultra endurance event, but it’s still long days in the saddle. Um, and just knowing that I’m doing three days of racing, I’ll, I’ll try to implement some real food, um, into my racing in those races. Um, I just think real food sits in is digested and gives you a little more energy in a different way than, um, stuff like blocks. Um, so yeah, I think like I’ll in Breck epic, for example, I’d always bring one Clif bar and try to eat that throughout the race. And it’s actually like pretty hard for me to eat a whole cliff bar. I would, it’s just something that I would constantly like nibble on throughout the race. Um, I wouldn’t eat the whole bar in one go. Um, any time there’d be like a lull in the pace where I’m not absolutely dying, just drive it out of my pocket, take bite and put it back in. So, um, yeah, I don’t put it in a rapper or anything. Just take the cliff bar out, throw it in your pocket and then it’s easy to get to anytime you need it. So I think that

Adam Pulford (15:01):

Works pretty electrolytes on there too. Yeah,

Russell Finsterwald (15:04):

Definitely. And it’s a little extra salt.

Adam Pulford (15:07):

Yeah, exactly. Okay. So if like the hydration nutrition on the bike is roughly the same, what is your recovery in say hydration, nutrition off the bike. Does that change in terms of either quantity or focus or priority during a staged event?

Russell Finsterwald (15:28):

Yeah, I think it becomes a lot more of a priority than a single day event for sure. Um, and sort of like what I jumped into a little bit earlier is that the basically the next day starts as soon as you finish. Um, if possible, I think it’s important to have a meal waiting for you when you finish, as opposed to just saying on a single day event, you can be like, I get it in the next hour. Great. But on a multi-day event, you need it right away. Um, within the first 30 minutes, I’d say, um, still have that recovery mix still have electrolytes if it was hot or you sweat quite a bit. Um, but get that real food in right away. And it can be like something small, even if it’s just like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a banana or something, it doesn’t need to be like a full course pasta dish or something like that. Just some real food that gives you calories that all start letting your body replenish and get ready for the next day. Um, and I think the recovery continues as soon as you get off the bike, um, that can be foam rolling, doing some recovery boots. If you have the opportunity for massage, get a massage, um, implementing things like that into your recovery after the stage, we’ll just make you feel so much better when you line up the next day and especially the deeper you get into the race.

Adam Pulford (16:44):

Yeah. That’s super important there, especially with that whole food, um, recovery aspect and some of the races, some of the races you had for you, meaning as soon as you cross the line, um, like for instance, Cape epic, the year that I’ve done, that they have a whole like finishing shoot and they push you toward this, um, like lunch station with already like pre packed bags of food that you just grab. And then you eat as you sit and hang out in the grass and people are finishing and all this kind of stuff. And then, and then we go back to our place of accommodation and then we have more food there and all this kind of stuff. So, um, when it’s taken care of you taking care of, for you like that, it’s really easy breakup. It does something similar at the finish line. If it doesn’t, if the race doesn’t provide at Russel, do you plan ahead or like, how do you get that food in post post race

Russell Finsterwald (17:33):

Quickly? Yeah, that’s some, that’ll go on the notes checklist the night before is have your pre-race meal made. Um, and if like we’re lucky enough that most time we’ll have a team band or something of that finished where I can just throw something in the cooler. Um, but if not, I’ll just make it, have it ready for me. So as soon as I get in the hotel, um, it’s ready for me because if you truly raced as hard as you can out there, you’re not going to get back to the hotel and be motivated to make food. So if you can do it the night before, have it all ready to go. And all you have to do is sit in the couch, meet your sandwich. Chances are you’re going to do it.

Russell Finsterwald (18:10):

But yeah, go ahead. Go ahead. Yeah. And what I was going to say is like anyone who’s done stage races knows how much of a challenge it becomes to eat as the event goes on. Um, there’s a certain point where you’re, I wouldn’t say you’ve lost your appetite, but you’re just not hungry. And you realize you need to eat and it’s, you kinda like have to force feed yourself at a certain point. Like say, I don’t really feel like eating this, but I know I need to eat this and you just go about it and eat it.

Adam Pulford (18:45):

Yeah. That’s actually super important point. Um, because I mean, things get boring, your body’s getting fatigued. And one way to do that is just like, it just wants to sleep, right? Like in food and digesting, I mean, that’s extra work, especially when you’re just moving all day every day and I’ll go back to my Cape epic example when I’ve raced it myself and also like brought tons of people through it. We’re not doing three hour days. I mean, you’re doing six to eight. Some, some people are out there on course for nine hours. And so, I mean, the, the body’s like eternal, stressed out situation. Right. And so, um, but you still need calories in, you still need calories in, and that’s where being ahead of the game on planning with the food is super important. And I’ve been working with, with, um, these two juniors out here in DC and, um, they they’re awesome to work with, but it’s, it’s a lot of this like pre-planning stuff. And I think that whether you’re a junior or a pro or an amateur, it’s like when you can control, I mean, Russell said it like never already read iterated several times, but when you can control what you can control, which is a lot of the nutrition hydration pre and post you’re, you’re set up for a lot greater success over

Russell Finsterwald (19:57):

Time. For sure.

Adam Pulford (20:03):

Um, man, we’re just, we’re going deep on that, uh, that, uh, recovery food, but it is truly important. Okay. Um, let’s go back to my notes to get some good grounding here. Uh, we mentioned, or we talked about your taper for a single day event being like basically five days reduced few openers throughout the week. Is that the same for a multi-day approach or is it different?

Russell Finsterwald (20:26):

Um, overall pretty similar. Um, I think I typically take maybe an extra two days of tapering if it’s a big event, um, that I know is going to be pretty fatiguing, um, rec epic, Pikes, peak apex, all things I would do more of a seven day taper for, um, with that said still incorporating some intensity into that. Um, whether that’s some shorter, like one minute openers or, um, some sprints, um, but yeah, keeping it short. Um, but still getting a little bit intensity in there for sure. Onto the longer day stuff.

Adam Pulford (20:59):

Cool. And for our listeners, I mean, as Ross was describing, like his tapers, I mean, it’s, it is go back to the science and see traditionally what works across the board. It’s reduced volume, keep the frequency, meaning you’re, you’re probably not changing the number of days that you ride when you’re still riding, like almost every day, but you reduce overall volume. You keep intensity in there. You keep intensity high, either as high as it was in the, in the previous training block or a little bit higher because you’ve reduced training load by reducing volume. And just by doing, by reducing volume and load your body is recovering throughout that process. And the intensity is there to stay sharp when you need the performance aspect.

Russell Finsterwald (21:42):

Exactly. Yeah, because I’ve, I mean, you’ll, you kind of realize if you don’t add that intensity, you get this flat feeling we’re on race day. You just feel like you can’t bury yourself that extra little bit, and I’ve just found doing that intensity gives you the ability to still go super deep, um, once you’ve been tapering.

Adam Pulford (22:01):

Yeah. Yeah. That’s really important. Really important. Um, from the, from the travel standpoint, I mean, I know we’re talking about you live in the west and you’re doing a lot of these, the races that we’ve mentioned have been, um, uh, in, in the west for those examples. I mean, you’ve traveled the world and race, but from a traveling standpoint, for any multi-day event that you’ve done, is it more complex? Is it less complex in how

Russell Finsterwald (22:28):

I think the multi-day stuff is definitely a little more complex, um, especially if you’re having to move hotels throughout the week. Um, if you’re able to stay in the hotel at the same hotel the entire week that makes life so much easier. Um, but if you have to move that kind of changes the game quite a bit. Um, most of, most of the stage races these days, I feel like the promoters have done a good job of making it so you can just stay in the same place and, um, be centralized, which helps quite a bit. Um, but yeah, I’ve done a couple events where you’re kind of have to shuffle hotels, um, and that, that adds a layer of stress for sure.

Adam Pulford (23:03):

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And it’s, you know, some of those are just like part of the adventure and you just have to go for it for everybody. Exactly. And you remind yourself of that. It is the same for everybody. And I’d say go back to the things that you can control, which is your food, your sleep, and make sure that you’re organized have a good packing system. Um, and that kind of stuff, because like when you are moving day to day like that, you don’t want yourself splayed

Russell Finsterwald (23:27):

Out everywhere. Right? Exactly. It just adds more stress and time packing to your schedule. You don’t need that

Adam Pulford (23:33):

For sure. For sure. Um, so now this one for the multi-day approach in the race day logistics, um, I’m guessing it’s probably like the same for you, meaning you got Baltic out there, you’ve got your mechanic out there. Um, but is there anything that you do in terms of a race strategy that’s different than a single day approach when you’re going after a stage race?

Russell Finsterwald (23:58):

Yeah, so I think a big difference between single day and multi-day is your strategy. Um, and a lot of that comes down to which aid stations the teams are able to access. Um, especially on our team, we have, um, a women’s side as well. So it’s not possible for our team to get to all the aid stations on these multi-day events. Um, so just kind of strategizing, picking out which aid stations you feel like will benefit you the most and using those ones. Um, yeah, you don’t necessarily need to use all the aid stations if for there, it’s nice to know they’re there. And if things get real bad, you can always stop and get the neutral support. Um, but it’s nice to have the team support where you can just, they hand you the bottle, you don’t even have to stop and you go, um, so yeah, we, we kind of tweak the strategy a little bit on multi-day stuff and, um, pick which ones we’re going to use and which ones we’re not.

Adam Pulford (24:47):

Yeah. And that, that applies to, if you’re, if you’re flying solo to these races or amateur, um, listening to this podcast is like, what Russell said still applies. Whereas just because it has five, eight stations and say it’s a 35 mile day and medium amount of climbing, you don’t have to stop at every aid station, especially if you’re feeling good, you got all your stuff and looking at the stage ahead of time and having a plan that you’re gonna do and then be able to change along the way. Um, that’s, that’s like what Russell’s talking about in terms of the strategy that he implies on it on his race day. And I think it’s, I think it’s really important because, um, I see a lot of people stop and waste too much time at aid stations on these, these back country things.

Russell Finsterwald (25:31):

Yeah. It’s amazing how quick stopping time can add up. I mean, you take two minutes at five, eight stations. That’s 10 minutes throughout a whole stage, which that’s a lot. Yeah,

Adam Pulford (25:41):

Yeah. That’s a lot. And so yeah, if you are just going for the overall experience and you want to hang out with Dade stations, cool. Go for it. No, like, no one’s saying not to do that, but if you’re going for an overall, like you want to get to the finish line, you’re challenging yourself and pushing yourself and you want to try to optimize your performance on that day just for you. It’s like the straight up don’t hang out in aid stations. It’s a time killer for sure. Yep. Um, so, you know, you kind of mentioned the VO two workouts being, um, key workouts for you on single day cross country races. Are there, you know, a key block of training or a certain workout that you and Jim do leading up for stage racing that you always do or should do or feel good after you get done doing it?

Russell Finsterwald (26:30):

Um, yeah. We seem to implement a lot more longer stuff. Um, it seems to come in the form of the five by 12 minute intervals we were talking about earlier. Yep. Um, and then occasionally we’ll incorporate double days, um, just get that extra load in one day. Um, typically that’ll involve me doing some sort of intervals in the morning. Um, and I’ll normally use this group right in Denver called the Meridian, um, group ride. Um, and it’s a good opportunities. I’ll do my morning intervals, have a few hours to recover, drive up and do that. And it’s a super hard hour. Um, you get leg speed, there’s a short little sprint hill in it. Um, and that’s a good way to sort of just empty the tank, um, get everything out. Um, not that’s a pretty high TSS day. So it kind of uses that as the last real hard push before a couple of days of recovery. And I found just, um, it’s amazing how much you can recover and five hour, five or six hours before another workout and just really, um, get as much out of your body in a single day as possible. So I really liked those days. It’s super fun.

Adam Pulford (27:36):

Yeah, absolutely. And for the listeners, if, if the internet did cut out there a little bit, he was talking about Meridian group ride, which is kind of like a training race and, um, it’s variable it’s up and down. And, uh, so intervals the morning of Meridian, which is super hard, um, that evening. And, you know, to Russell’s point, if you do have the time to do doubles and um, your body can recover, it can handle it, assuming that you’ve got, um, you know, good sleep, rolling into it and all that kind of stuff. And then the doubles double days drive fitness, man, they drive performance. It’s going to make sure she’s got to make sure that you do recover on the backside.

Russell Finsterwald (28:13):

Yeah, definitely. It’s I think double days are one of those things you can overdo it and really put yourself in a hole. Um, so that’s a good that’s when you really need to communicate with your coach well and, um, express how your body’s feeling and um, at the end of the day, just make sure you don’t overdo it.

Adam Pulford (28:29):

Yeah. Yeah. That’s it? That is it. Well, the last, last item on our list before we wrap up here is, um, you know, you, you, you race a bunch you’re professional bike racers, so that makes sense. That’s your thing in the fall. Um, you know, you, you typically go on a bunch of adventures, you know, and, and I know that you’re been ticking off the fourteeners in Colorado. You sometimes do a epic, huge days with Kaylyn. Um, and to you, why do you, why do you do those after, after a year of bike racing? Like why do you, why do you do all that?

Russell Finsterwald (29:08):

Yeah, I think, um, it’s a multitude of reasons. Um, I first fell in love with mountain biking, um, as a kid, um, just exploring in the Hills behind my house. Um, so I think there’s always been this side of me that, um, I’m very adventurous and mountain biking is a great tool to see new places and I just love being in the mountains. So, um, yeah, the fall is kind of my time to unwind and, um, get to do stuff that’s not necessarily conducive to being fast on the bike. Um, if I were to mix these adventures in during the race season, I feel like it wouldn’t allow me to be the best racer I can be. So it’s kind of, um, my time to unwind a little bit. I know most people, like when they finish the race season, they’re ready for like three weeks off the bike and hanging low, but like, I get super excited for, um, the last race of the season. Cause I know it’s adventure season right after that. Um, just try to squeeze in as many fourteeners as I can. And, um, at the end of the day, I just love riding my bike and I love being outside. So any sort of opportunity to incorporate that I’m all in on it.

Adam Pulford (30:11):

Awesome. Well, do you, I mean, just out of curiosity, any, any specific training that goes into your 14 or season or are you just like, I’m going to go for it and soak up all the Dom’s afterward and deal with it? Oh yeah. It’s total off the couch fitness.

Russell Finsterwald (30:26):

Um, yup. Which isn’t it’s I make it work, but yeah. Um, yeah, it’s not good sometimes. Um, so like a lot of the 14 years it’ll be 15 miles with, that’s kind of the average with 8,000 feet of her or so, um, so you feel great going up, you feel good about halfway down and that’s when you realize you’re, you’re not a hiker, you’re not a runner, you’re a cyclist and you’re going to feel that one for a few days. So, um, yeah, that’s when I go back to the camper, try to do a river set and, um, yeah, try to recover as quick as possible. It’s a good test to figure out different recovery techniques. Cause um, I get pretty wrecked after some of those 14 or adventures for sure.

Adam Pulford (31:08):

But friends, layman doesn’t have you do some, uh, some inclined repeats before your first fourteener?

Russell Finsterwald (31:13):

Well, the problem is I’m just like as soon as I finished the last race, I’m just straight into 14 or so there’s no time for incline training. I use the fourteeners to get fit for inclined season.

Adam Pulford (31:23):

Yeah. Perfect. Perfect segue. Cause the [inaudible] okay. So the incline, what is the incline Russell for those who don’t know?

Russell Finsterwald (31:31):

Yeah. The incline it’s um, 2000 feet of vertical gain over the course of just under a mile. Um, it’s an old railroad grade, um, cable car, railroad situation. Yeah.

Adam Pulford (31:45):

Tram car, like, like 60% type stuff. Not 2%.

Russell Finsterwald (31:49):

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Not railroads, but like cable, tram cars. So it’s, it’s super steep and I think it’s a cool training tool that we’re lucky to have in Colorado Springs. Cause, um, as Adam knows, it can be 15 degrees out and you go do the incline and no matter you can wear shorts and you’d still be hot going up there. So yeah, I don’t do much stuff on the trainers. I just use the incline in the winter. Um, sometimes that means you’ll get to do it twice, but um, I found the incline to roughly equates to about two hours of decently hard riding. Um, so if I have a four hour training ride and it’s super snowy out, I’m not gonna ride the trainer for four hours, I’m going to go to the incline twice. And um, it’s, it’s a ton of fun. Anyone who’s done, it knows it’s just a cool way to change things up. And I do feel like because you’re going upstairs, it mimics a cycling workout. Um, I do think there is some crossover and I think just for, um, a lot of other reasons, just mentally, it’s super fun to do, um, bone structure. I think it’s good for building bone density because we do a lot of stuff on the bike. So I know a lot of road news, um, do the incline just, just to get that bone density work in a little bit.

Adam Pulford (33:03):

Yeah. And I brought it up kind of, kind of like joking, but also to talk about it because I think it speaks to not only like, you know, your methods of training and with, with Jim, um, and Jim also kind of cultivated that, um, community at CTS, uh, him and coop early by, you know, it’s snowing out, we’re doing the incline. We’re not doing, we’re not doing trainers inside. Let’s go guys. And even if it was a longer lunch or whatever, um, it was healthy to get out and do that. And for those to kind of paint that picture, it’s like you start at Manitou Springs, like 6,800 and it tops out at what, 8,200 or something like that. Or 900.

Russell Finsterwald (33:41):

Um, well I know it’s basically 2000 feet, so I deal out 88

Adam Pulford (33:46):

Or so. Yeah, 88. Okay. Um, and so it just picture this giant staircase, Google it, if you want to have a picture of it. And so, um, how long does it take you to get to the top Russell?

Russell Finsterwald (33:57):

Um, it varies. Um, if I’m, if I’m really going forward, I think the fastest I’ve done it is 22 and change. Um, but on, on average, I’d say I like to just kinda cruise it at like a hard tempo and that’s about 28 to 30 minutes 33. The goal is always to keep it under 30.

Adam Pulford (34:16):

All right. Well, if I come back, I I’ll, I’ll let you go. But it is, um, it, you know, for those of us there in the endurance community, it’s like incline season. Okay. And once you’re in it and you crack the, the candy shell, cause the first two, three times you do it, you’re super sore. Cause you run down the embar trail after I go up, but all cyclists kind of get baited in cause you just like smash up and it’s just pushing, it’s all, you know, concentric muscle action to go up, but it’s not, no, definitely not. Um, but it’s, uh, it is a wonderful way to kind of transition in and I think, um, uh, you know, the bigger reason why I bring it up is, you know, with Russell in his kind of balanced training approach, both the physical and the cognitive side of things. I mean, you’re, you’re, you’re listening to somebody who races bike all year round in his, um, in the mountains all year round. And the first thing that he does when he’s not doing that is to go back out and do it. There’s just no start line or finish line. Right.

Adam Pulford (35:14):

So, you know, I think it speaks to, you know, what you’re truly, you know, you’re truly loving what you do. It’s, it’s fun to see that. Um, it’s fun to see you, you know, from kid all the way up to, to now, um, I’m super stoked that you’re still having success in that. And, um, man, I’m just super, super stoked that you were able to come on the train ride podcast and stuff.

Russell Finsterwald (35:35):

Yeah, definitely. Um, thanks for having on, it was a lot of fun chatting with you and hopefully we’ll get in a bike ride this summer.

Adam Pulford (35:41):

Yeah, let’s do it. I’ll I’ll I will be back. I gotta come back and visit, um, we’ll CTS, we’ve got our anniversary coming up, which is great. And then yeah, my brother and his family still live up in monument. So, um, I’ll be back for sure. Uh, well Russell, before I let you go, I do want to summarize for our listeners and we, we covered a lot and we went super long, which is what a true endurance athlete does. But if you were to like wrap this all up for our listeners, and if you could just distinguish like, what is the best thing to focus on for a single day event and what is the best thing to focus on for a multi-day event in terms of training? What would you tell our listeners to focus on for single and then multi-site

Russell Finsterwald (36:23):

Yeah, I think on single day events, you kind of need to focus on creating peak power and, um, just having the absolute, highest power you can for, um, the demands of the race, whether that’s a three hour race or a hour and a half long cross-country and a multi-day event, I think you need to focus more on being prepared for five days of racing and you can achieve that through, um, doing harder, longer training blocks.

Adam Pulford (36:51):

Got it. Perfect. Well, there, there you go. Folks. I’m hearing it from the pro, hearing it from somebody who I think has been doing the best over several years. And, um, Russell, thank you again for, for coming on the podcast. If, if people want to check out your, your amazing fall photos, where should we send them?

Russell Finsterwald (37:12):

Um, I’d say I’m probably the most active on Instagram. Um, you can find me there. My, um, handles just at [inaudible]

Adam Pulford (37:19):

Finsta and Instagram. Cool. Uh, are people going to be able to check you out on Facebook or Twitter or are you just like not hanging out there these days?

Russell Finsterwald (37:25):

Um, I, I’m still active on Facebook and Twitter. Um, I recently just started a YouTube channel and um, I think that’s where I want to start sharing more of my adventures in a better capacity. I think Instagram is great for photos, but, um, I think YouTube, um, I’m going to start sharing a little more there. So YouTube would be a great place if you want to learn a little more and see a little more than you would see on Instagram.

Adam Pulford (37:49):

Okay, cool. Well, I’ll be sure to get the YouTube channel from you when we wrap up after this and we’ll put that in the show notes for everybody, but at the same time, if, uh, if you’re listening and you’re like, man, I just want to go check out Russell on YouTube, just Google his name, Google Finsta on YouTube. You’ll you’ll find them. Awesome. Cool. Well, thanks Russell. Appreciate you. And uh, good luck this year when we get back to biker.

Russell Finsterwald (38:14):

Yeah. Awesome. Thanks for having me on again, Adam.


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