Building your Race Calendar
The season is winding up and it’s due time to take a look at your race + event plans. Here are 5 of the most important factors to consider when building your calendar to capitalize on your goals!
Prioritize, Plan, and Peak
When laying out your calendar, it’s natural to want to fill it full of events. However, it’s important to emphasize certain ones over others in line with your goals. I break races down into the A, B, and even C categories based on their value + role in an athlete’s calendar. As = peak events. Bs = important but not the main focus. Cs = performance not critical. Note: if your focus is on consistently racing for fun and don’t want to optimize one event, then this layout is not so important!
Realistically, most athletes looking for a big Peak (or highly optimized period of performance) can only do this about three times. This is because a true peak requires each mesocycle of training from the Base, Build, and Preparatory phases…or at the least Build and Preparatory. Essentially an athlete needs a couple months minimum to get towards a Peak. That being said, step one is to lay out a handful of your biggest, most important goals. Now, take about 3 of those that you can highlight as “A” events.
" Be confident in the strength and speed you are building by including such highly effective “training” sessions in the midst of a challenging fitness building block..."
If your “A” events are really close to each other (say 2-3 weeks) it is possible to hold peak form for a little while BUT you’re in a limited state of form and you’ll need to be mindful of that. Don’t fret it if you have two big goals within a couple weeks.
The others will have to become B –or even C– events that aid in the process of preparing for an event, are training races, or are simply fun to mix in. This is where mindset comes into play: you have to realize not every event is the World Championships and come into them with clear goals. This brings me to training through races…
Training Through Races
This phrase is one you may have heard tossed around and can be helpful for taking things up a notch. It essentially means to take a preplanned and suboptimal amount of fatigue and training into an event. Now, you are not supposed to be feeling 100% and that’s okay. We utilize this with our C events specifically and occasionally B events. If it’s an early season C event or one leading up to your main goals, it can be a good chance to stack some extra training on top of your plan. When followed up with adequate recovery, these experiences often produce a big compensation or “fitness bump” as I call it.
Now, you are not supposed to be feeling 100% and that’s okay.
Depending on your focus or “type” of racing and the demands that come with it, you can also leverage other disciplines to assist your training plan. For example, as a XCO mountain biker, gravel races and endurance events can be great springboards for stacking up some preseason fitness for me. They’re typically longer and more aerobic in nature but really challenge that aerobic threshold.
Likewise, you can use local mtb races to fine tune some skills, work on repeatability and power, and get some speed work in for your gravel/road/endurance events.
Leave Room for Rest
After a big peak or block of racing, rest must follow. Even midseason or in the summer when events are going off left, right, and center you have to be mindful of building in rest periods. These don’t have to be full “off-seasons” but a week to 10 days of both rest days and light riding to hit the reset button. Most people train diligently until the spring and race all the way through to the fall…then wonder why they may feel so fried.
Additionally, if and when injuries, illness, or complications throw a wrench in your plan just accept these moments of pause. This is one of the biggest struggles I have. I’ve learned that longterm growth and progression is not harmed (and even benefited) from leaning into these breaks in training and not fighting the complication. Then, you can come back healthy, rested, and mentally ready to go.
Bonus: maintaining strength
As you approach these events and when the season gets going, it can get difficult to keep your strength in the routine. Sometimes you may have two, three, four weekends in a row of racing. This is not the time to try to build strength – and I’m speaking from experience. This is when you should scale back the strength to “maintenance” work. Let the ego go and take weight off the bar, focus on form, and address functional movements that keep you healthy. I back off and advocate for band work, TRX movement, and body weight exercises to keep from adding fatigue to heavy weeks already.
Carson Beckett, 22 // UCI MTB Racer // Coach // // Student // Outdoor Enthusiast