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Your Month-by-Month Leadville Prep Guide

By Rebecca Rusch

“Be careful what you wish for
‘Cause you just might get it
And if you get it then you just might not know
What to do wit’ it, ’cause it might just
Come back on you ten-fold” — Eminem

Congratulations! You have officially been accepted to the 2015 Leadville Trail 100 MTB. You’ve been dreaming of this and now the coveted opportunity is right there in your sweaty hands. Now what? Don’t waste this opportunity. What will you do to make your Leadville experience memorable?

The journey is truly the prize, so even though you’ll be aiming to roll across the red carpet on 6th and Harrison on August 15, make sure to soak in the full experience you’ll have in the coming months of preparation. In any great adventure, sometimes the most rewarding gifts are completely unpredicted and unexpected. I guarantee this Leadville race you wished for will not be what you expected. While you can’t control how this adventure will unfold, you can at least control most of your preparation. Here’s a little breakdown to help you get dialed in the coming months.

JANUARY: You are IN, so really commit to the goal and design a realistic training plan starting now. If you work with a coach, tell them your mission and plan together. If you are self-trained, get educated on endurance training programs, talk to friends and set up a timeline for yourself. This is also a good time to let your family, friends and work know what you’ll be doing in August. You need support from everyone around you. This is not an individual endeavor.

FEBRUARY: This is the time for logistical planning. Research lodging, travel plans, acclimatization trips and book them. Pulling the trigger will hold you accountable and ensure you’re not left stranded sleeping in your car. Training has begun, but the goal feels far away, so it’s hard to stay motivated. Put up photos of the Leadville course, read blogs about Leadville, watch Race Across the Sky and keep training with intention during this important base-building time in your training.

MARCH: By now you should be comfortable putting in some longer rides and it’s time to start racing your bike. Leadville Race Series events start this month and offer a great opportunity to stay true to your long-term goal, get in some great practice events and start soaking up the Leadville vibe. If you live in a cold climate, like me, it’s also the perfect time to travel to warm riding locations to feed your soul, focus your mind and train your legs.

APRIL: Spring Fever has fully hit, so you should be finding ways to ride your bike outside. This is also a great time to assess your equipment that has been in the garage all winter. Is your bike the right tool for the job or do you need to upgrade? A super sweet ride is certainly not a requirement for finishing Leadville, but it does make it more enjoyable to be on the best equipment you can get your hands on. If you will not be upgrading your bike, then at least consider freshening up tires, chain, brake pads and other components.

MAY/JUNE: These are really key training months, so keep at it and do the hard work. I have a little mantra running in my head when I feel like slacking off on workouts. I tell myself “pay now or pay later” and often visualize myself in a little race alone on the dirt trails in Idaho. I would much rather put in the extra work on my own terms than be in a head-to-head sprint in August wishing I had tried just a little harder in May and June. Visualizations really help me stay focused on what I’m working toward. I think about the places on the course where I’ll push harder and how I will feel when I see the finish line.

That said, remember to enjoy the amazing journey to being more fit and being committed to a goal. Don’t forget to schedule fun, social rides often and by all means, don’t take yourself too seriously. After all, you are part of the Leadville family now and we all simply love to ride our bikes. Keep your race goals in sight, but don’t lose perspective on the ultimate rewards like health, fitness and time outdoors with friends.

JULY: I can’t say enough about getting out to Leadville to prep for your adventure. First, it’s a cool place to hang out. Second, your body will respond to the thin air and riding there will help with your acclimatization for race day. Third, knowledge is power, so simply riding the big, scary hills and getting to know some of the turns will ease your mind. If you join us for the Camp of Champions, you’ll ride with past winners including Dave Wiens and I, and we’ll share all of our tips for mastering the course.

AUGUST: Your training by this time is done. Resist the urge to cram in a few more really hard rides just before the race. You’ve made the fitness gains you can by now and the couple of weeks leading up to the race are for tapering your training to let your body rejuvenate. Last-minute planning like tire choice, nutrition plan, travel logistics and clothing happen during this time. Make sure to leave nothing to chance and arrive in Leadville with all of the right gear for the job. The calm before the storm is one of my favorite times because all of your hard physical training is done. You can rest assured that you trained well and are physically ready. There is a sense of peace I get in knowing I am prepared and all that’s left to do is simply go out and ride my bike and soak in all that Leadville has to offer.

So congratulations on the start of a very exciting journey. I can’t wait to share it with you!


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