Leadville Training Plan | How to Succeed at the Leadville Trail 100

Learn, plan and achieve success at the Leadville Trail 100 mountain bike race

The lottery has been drawn or you’ve qualified at a Leadville Racing Series event. It doesn’t matter how, now you’re in – come August you will be face to face with the Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike Race. Are you ready? How will you prepare? Leadville is a huge effort, so don’t leave your investment to a lack of preparation. From the depths of our 20+ years of experience racing and coaching many athletes to success at Leadville, we have realized the five truths that are essential for all successful Leadville attempts. From these five truths, you can build an incredible awareness of the race’s demands, and from that, optimize your training plan in the year and months prior to your event.

We must warn you, there are many questions that arise in planning, overtraining is easy for many, and it isn’t easy to accurately set a plan without significant experience/education/awareness. We therefore know that the best option, if you want to have your best Leadville result, is to hire a coach. Whatever your agenda however, using this guide as a starting point you can build your Leadville training plan the like a pro.

1. Learn Leadville

Leadville is like no other mountain bike racing event given its altitude. Did you know, for instance, that it takes an average of 4500-6000 kilojoules of work to complete Leadville? Learning about its demands will only help you succeed at it. Fortunately, knowledge like this and much more can be scoured from the web; the question being, what exactly to search for?

Your search should revolve around the sections outlined here: training with power, periodization, diet, and coaching. For example, search the web for key insights like the effects of high-intensity aerobic efforts at altitude. Learn about the secrets of Leadville-specific hydration and fueling and use this information to optimize your diet while training and know how Leadville’s altitude will affect your ability to consume water, electrolytes and calories.

What else is there to know? Much. Leadville is classically broken down into these finishing-time benchmarks: Sub 12 hour is the longest goal, and is the minimum finishing time needed to earn the coveted Leadville belt buckle. A Sub 9 hour finishing time at Leadville is the next goal, as the belt buckle gets bigger for anyone that can finish under 9 hours. Any finishing time below that is just more cheddar; right down to a sub-6 hour ride like the top pros strive for. Beyond that, the 1000 mile buckle is awarded to anyone who has finished 10 Leadville races. These are the historical benchmarks at Leadville. Read our review of what it takes to finish under 9 hours at Leadville, and hit the web to search for more.

2. Train with Power

If you don’t have a wattage meter, now is the time to get one and learn how to use it. There can be no question if results are the goal: Train with Power. Power is your first indicator of fitness, and there is no replacement measure. By testing and training with power, you are able to quickly and accurately assess where your performance is compared to your goals, and therefore be able to quickly adjust your training as needed! All of Tenac’s training prescriptions are based on your power data. We can’t build a Leadville training plan for you without it, and we don’t assume anyone can without this crucial data to indicate how you respond to the stresses of training.

3. Periodize

Periodize your training: Count backwards from event day, and structure your days, weeks, and months accordingly. Periodization gained awareness in cycling generally with the publication of Joel Friel’s book the Cyclist’s Training Bible. Classically, schedule your training block across a 3 week span allowing for rest as needed and include a reduced week of intensity/volume at the end of each block. Don’t over do it either. If your typical week of training amounts to eight hours of total ride time, don’t pad your training plan with much more. Give each week at most, a 10% bump in either intensity or volume depending on time of year. The earlier in the season, the more low intensity base you’ll want to develop. As summer comes on, so does more intense interval training.

Be realistic. Know how much time you can reasonably devote to training for Leadville without causing undue stress on the rest of your life. Use the race date as your primary goal, and work backward to today. Adjust volume and intensity through the year, ramping endurance up, and as you get closer to the event, build power on that pre-season base. The end result is to establish a training/racing strategy for the year that is in support of one goal, and that one goal should be Leadville if you’re lucky enough to gain entrance to the event.

4. Master Your Diet

The often overlooked factor. Learn how eating and drinking truly effect you while exercising. Your Leadville training plan depends on it. Experiment and Learn how to eat and drink on the bike while training for Leadville, then on event-day, you know exactly what your intake needs are.  This is an absolute necessity at Leadville. You should be experimenting with various fuels to discover what works best for you. Some of our favorites for Leadville, and any other long distance event are:

5. Hire a Coach

Lastly, having an experienced coach is an undeniable advantage and many dedicated cyclists realize this. Typically, you have a life and much more going on than cycling. Coaches therefore take all the data and education off your plate, freeing you to attend to all aspects of your life. Tenac Championship Coaching specializes in preparation and success at Leadville for all of our athletes in attendance. Leadville is a primary focus for many of our athletes and for us as a coaching company. It is one of few events that we attend personally to ensure our athlete’s have the best chance of success. You too can be a part of our Leadville community, and see results from working together. With our evidence based approach, we can give you the advantage of years of insight and mentorship in training, mental fitness, and diet. Don’t leave it to chance, Learn from the best how to create and manage your Leadville training plan so you can have the best results possible.

Interested in Coaching? Contact us via the form below or learn more about our coaches and the Tenac Championship Coaching philosophy.