Question: How can I keep my legs in a 60-mile race so I can sprint at the end? I hang with the breaks and attacks, but in the last mile, when the pace really gets hot, my legs fatigue. Meanwhile, on our 30-mile weekday group ride I’m always in the top three in the sprint. — Curtis P.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: I know a rider with a similar problem. He could stick with the lead group to the finish but couldn’t finish fast. So he worked on his sprint exhaustively — and still didn’t improve.
Finally, he hired a coach. After some analysis, the coach determined that his sprint was fine — when he wasn’t tired. The problem was that accumulated fatigue from the early part of the race was blunting his sprint at the end.
So, the rider shouldn’t have been working on speed — he had plenty of speed — he needed to work on endurance at race intensities. Then he’d be able to reach the finish with enough freshness in his legs.
In your case, you have considerable speed but only enough endurance at race pace to conserve that speed to the end of 30 miles. Double the distance and your legs are too tired to sprint effectively.
The solution is to do one ride per week of about 75 miles. Here’s how to structure it:
- Keep the pace brisk — about 80-85 percent of max heart rate.
- At mile 30, do a 5-mile time trial at close to maximum effort.
- At 55 miles, do 3 repeats of 3-minute intervals all out, with 3 minutes of easy spinning between.
- Finally, at 70 miles, do 3 hard sprints to tire your legs and simulate the final sprint in the race.
A few weeks of this workout and you’ll get to the end of a 60-mile race with a lot more left in the legs.