How To Train For A Stage Race Like The Cape Epic According To A World Champion
Training for a stage race, or any race for that matter, can be difficult. These tips from Alan Hatherly, under-23 cross-country world champion 2018, will make it a whole lot easier and more enjoyable to get race ready.
He’s also taking on the Cape Epic for the first time ever this month. So if you’re a newbie, you can be rest-assured that sometimes even the pros take on new challenges, too. Here’s how he does it.
When you train, do you train for overall fitness or for specific races?
“I train according to a structured training plan which is created by my coach John Wakefield. We plan out my entire race season with certain events targeted as priority (ie. World Championships, World Cups). The entire preparation period for these events is structured over a long period with different strength phases and training to achieve optimal fitness for those priority race days.
“It typically starts with a lot of volume riding and heavy gym sessions. We then transition into some high intensity interval training where we fine tune the ‘engine’. I would do more explosive gym work during this period. To finish off the build up period I’d have a small rest block to taper for a race or to achieve some adaption to the training load which has just been done.
“Training for overall fitness is getting out there and just enjoying being outdoors and exercising to stay healthy. Training for a race is following a structured training program 100% day in and day out, pushing your body to its absolute maximum to try achieve the end goal (even when you’re tired).”
How do you ensure your body is in top shape to perform come race day?
“This is managed a lot by my coach to prevent over-training, where you actually start to burn out and start losing power. He monitors my training and progress, ensuring I get adequate rest during my build up periods to sustain the entire season.
“I get massages weekly and incorporate regular stretching in my daily routines to prevent injuries. I balance it all with a well-rounded diet (mainly home cooked meals) with great variance. I have my skin folds (body fat test) done every two weeks to monitor how my body is coping with my training and to make sure my quantity of food is just right.”
What signs of being sick, tired or overtraining will make you take a rest day?
“I typically look at my heart rate data because it’s a really easy and reliable way to tell what your body is doing. If I’m not feeling 100% and I look at my heart rate values and see that they are way lower than what they are normally for the same load, that is my sign that I’m really fatigued and should call it a day.”
The Cape Epic is coming up, what do you snack on to fuel your body during a race?
“I like to go for energy bars during big stage races like Cape Epic and Cape Pioneer Trek. Specifically, I use Cadence Carbofuel bars because they’re really easy to chew and digest whilst you’re out riding. Other options, if you’re not in too much of a rush, would be bananas and oat bars, but I aim for high carbohydrate and high calorie options to try get the biggest sustainable kick out of my nutrition.
“It’s no good eating a low calorie slim bar if you hit the wall two hours from the finish line. Over eating slightly on the bike will just carry you easier into the following race days to come.”
How are you preparing for the Cape Epic?
“I haven’t done a Cape Epic yet so this will be my first, but it won’t be my first 7/8 day stage race – so I know roughly what to expect and what points I need to work on to achieve a really good finish. I’ve managed to get a preparation period in so far with a lot of longer endurance rides and gym work.
“I’ve focused on building myself up and getting the endurance factor out the way before transitioning into some faster explosive intervals. I have a few preparation races such as Tankwa Trek (4 Day Stage Race) which will be a good form tester, and from there I’ll be able to see where I can improve before I hit that start line in March for the Cape Epic.”
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Alan Hatherly is our March Man Of Action. Pick up a copy of our March issue, in stores now, or you can order a copy right here (it couldn’t be easier). It’s our superhero issue and is jam-packed with tips from eating like a champ and burning 1000 calories in your lunch break, to training like the Super Rugby superheroes and building muscle like Thor.