Participants in next year’s nine-day Old Mutual joBerg2c can now tap into the expertise of inaugural winner Shan Wilson.
Over the next six months, Shan will be offering a structured training programme free of charge via the mountain bike event’s social media platforms.
He will give advice on a weekly basis in an easily digestible format and respond to individual queries via the question-and-answer forum.
“The principles of this training programme are good, solid guidelines for any athlete, be he a complete novice or a seasoned professional,” says Shan.
Riders can either take elements from it and add to their existing structure or follow the programme to the letter, he says.
“The concepts are applicable from one individual to another and even from one discipline to another. These are the principles that Lance Armstrong would use to win the Tour.”
To illustrate this point, Shan has selected three test subjects of completely differing fitness levels and abilities.
Max Knox (Ghost-DoItNow), who was third overall this year with team-mate Adrien Niyonshuti (MTN-Qhubeka), will represent the racing class, while novice rider Sebastian “Bassie” Wilson and his partner Gary Barnes are simply aiming to finish the race.
Readers will be able to follow their progress via weekly updates on Facebook and Twitter.
Shan says it requires a serious commitment both on and off the bike to complete the longest paired stage race in the country.
“If they stick to the programme religiously and just do what’s plot-and-planned for them, they will not have any issues with finishing.”
His training programme is built around three eight-week segments – the base, transitional and competition phases.
“Right now we’re in the base phase, where the focus is just time in the saddle, but not too much. The riders are preparing their bodies for full contact training.”
Shan recommends that the first month be spent on a road bike because it is not as hard on the body.
Having built a solid platform from which to work, participants progress to the transitional phase where more intensity is introduced. The novices will take part in a few shorter events, while Max begins his racing calendar.
“From the transitional phase we move into the final competition phase with lots of intensity and quality workouts. Time spent on the bike will come down but the effort will go up.”
Shan says Max will clock up a lot more miles and start his quality workouts earlier in the programme.
“We’ll bring him up to peak level, but not quite, and keep him there. Max will probably also rest a lot more because of the demands of his racing.”
The golden rule for any rider, says Shan, is to “rest as much as you train.”
He says replenishment is an equally important part of recovery and therefore advises his test subjects to eat as much “real food” as possible.
While supplements have their place, Shan says participants in long stage races often run the risk of serious diarrhoea and stomach problems from putting too many processed elements into their systems.
“I’ve got Bassie and Max on personalised eating plans by Ernie Lambert (www.howmuchfood.com). It’s a very balanced diet and even includes beer, wine and dark chocolate – you’ve just got to limit your intake.”
Like the organisers, who say the Old Mutual joBerg2c is about a balance of riding hard and having fun, he also believes in a sensible approach and monitors his subjects for signs of over-training or illness.
For example, Max uses PowerTap to measure his energy output in watts. “I monitor his training stress scores and if they climb too high, I rest him.”
Similarly, Bassie trains using a heart-rate monitor, which measures the number of heartbeats per minute. “He takes his resting heart-rate every morning and if it’s five to 10 beats above the mean average, I decide whether he should rest or not.”
Although Shan believes power-based training is a lot more effective, reading the files can be time-consuming and difficult. “For a novice, it’s better to start with heart-rate based training.”
However, he says, it is equally possible to combine the two or follow his training programme without either gadget.
“It’s easy, just work with the rate of perceived exertion by creating a graph between one and 10 and logging each day how you felt. You can still monitor your training relatively well and see how your body’s coping.”
Shan says one of the key factors in a stage race is learning to operate in a fatigued environment. Here the team dynamic plays an important role.
“You’re not always in the same peak or trough, so you’ve got to be able to complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses and stick together 24-7.”
Ideally, he says, partners should be evenly matched in terms of their ability, but the most important thing is that they share a clearly defined common goal.
“Gary and Bassie’s ultimate aim is to finish the race. So whatever gets thrown at them between Heidelberg and Scottburgh, they will be completely equipped on a physical and mental level to survive.”
Follow Shan Wilson’s training programme on Twitter (joberg2c_journo) or Facebook (www.facebook.com/joberg2c) or visit www.joberg2c.co.za for more information.
Full Stop Communications
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On behalf of:
Old Mutual joBerg2c