MTB RaceIt’s January and you have big goals for this race season!  Maybe you are targeting the Breck 100 Ultra, the RME State Championship Series or your first XC race.  Regardless of your goal you want to start training now.  The first RME race is in early May and that may seem like a long way off, but starting now will get you prepared to nail your goals and come away satisfied with your result.  

Deciding where to start in your training program is determined by your fitness level.  The worst thing you can do is get to the start line underprepared.  This may likely leave you feeling unsatisfied with your result, discouraged and unmotivated to continue.


If you are coming off the couch or ending your off-season, you want to prepare your body for the demands of training.  This should include some cardio workouts in lower intensities such as easy short rides or runs, or visits to the gym using cardio equipment such as a rowing or elliptical machine or treadmill.  Cardio sessions can be 3-4 days a week, but limited to 1 hr sessions until your body has adjusted to the work.  

Some light strength training may be in order as well.  Some research shows that older athletes benefit from strength training.  Limit strength training to 2 days a week and separated by 2-3 days between sessions.

A strong core will enhance your cycling ability with improved power, endurance and balance as well as reduce chances of injury.  Checkout the MTBCoach Core workout.

In the preparation phase, you want to limit your total workout time to 6-7 hrs in a week.  It won’t help you to start putting in lots of time in this phase.  Let your body adjust to the training before putting in more hours.

Building a Base

If you already have a good level of fitness, such as coming off CX season or working out at least 6 hours a week for the last 4 weeks then you can jump in to base training.  Base training is about preparing the body to train for racing.  In this phase you are training your cardio system for the demands of high intensity sessions later, building force and muscular endurance.  Training sessions should last for 1-1.5 hrs up to 5-6 hrs depending on your goals.  

Many people spend most of their training hours on an indoor trainer during the winter months.  While using the trainer creates focused and controlled workouts, it’s important to get outside also.  Riding outside will give you good adaptation for riding in wind, on hills, and of course in adverse weather when you can’t get on a trainer.  Riding outside will also break up the monotony of riding indoors and provide extra motivation.

Starting your season with a strong base program will prepare you physically and mentally for a great season.  Visit our website for suggestions on different training sessions or other tips to help you through your season.

About MTBCoach

MTBCoach is a group of passionate coaches focused on MTB endurance racing.  MTBCoach is based in Colorado and Idaho and trains athletes all around the world to help them meet their racing goals. Our athletes are beginner to elite racers who are also passionate about racing MTB and doing their best in the events they enter.  Check out our website at to learn more or sign up for our services.