Virtual racing has seen a huge rise in popularity, with even seasoned pros joining the virtual peloton. Dipping your toes into eRacing can be a great way to test your fitness, add variety to your training, and let you see how you match up against riders from all over the world. But pinning on a number in a virtual world isn’t like racing in real life, and success in the digital dash to the line requires that you train specifically for the unique format of eRacing.
“Virtual races tend to be short, punchy, and brutal.
They’re very much surge, steady, surge, steady, sprint!”
“The demands of virtual racing are very different from those of real-world disciplines,” says Coach Mac Cassin, Chief Physiologist at the Wahoo Sports Science.
To meet the needs of eRacers, Coach Mac created a series of eSports training plans for The Sufferfest app designed specifically to get you ready to rumble in the virtual jungle. The plans place less emphasis on training long, steady-state efforts and focus more on developing 5-minute power (Maximal Aerobic Power) and 1-minute power (Anaerobic Capacity) while improving your ability to recover quickly while riding at or slightly below your threshold, or functional threshold power (FTP).
We asked Coach Mac to share some of his top training tips for eRacing. Here’s what he had to say:
Train Your Top End
Virtual events are full gas right from the gun. If you want to get the holeshot you need to train your Neuromuscular, or sprint, power as well as your Anaerobic Capacity (those are efforts lasting 30 seconds to 1 minute). High-intensity workouts that include short, maximal efforts with limited rest between them—like the classic Tabata 40x20s (40 seconds on, 20 seconds off)—are perfect for tuning your engine.
Spin To Win
In addition to focusing on shorter, high-intensity efforts, part of training your Neuromuscular system is improving muscle coordination. Cadence builds—where you build from a cadence of 90 RPM to your MAX over 30 seconds, recover and repeat—are great for improving your Neuromuscular coordination. Cadence builds improve the way you recruit your leg, glute and core muscles throughout your pedal stroke by training the ‘on/off’ switch in each muscle group to not only work faster but have less overlap with your other muscle groups. This translates to better efficiency and a smoother pedal stroke even at lower cadences.
Know Your Limits
Though a strong start off the line is critical, you’ll also need to be able to sustain relatively high power for 3-5 minute intervals. Knowing how many watts per kilogram you can realistically hold for these durations and managing your effort accordingly during the race will prevent you from redlining and blowing up spectacularly in the first ten minutes. Knowing your maximum sustainable power for 1-minute and 5-minute intervals will help you keep from digging too deep too early. A power profile test like The Sufferfest’s Full Frontal 4DP test will give you your maximum 5-second, 1-minute, 5-minute, and 20-minute power values.
As things get hotter, your core temperature and your heart rate will start to creep up, limiting your ability to produce power on the bike. During virtual races, you don’t have the benefit of airflow keeping you cool. Not only will that cause your core temperature and heart rate to rise, but you’ll also lose critical fluids through increased perspiration. A powerful, well-placed fan is essential during both training and racing. The better your heat management, the cooler your core temperature, which means you’ll get more out of your training sessions and be able to perform at your best when the chips are down.
Designed for time-crunched athletes, the 12-week eRacing plans require an average of 5 hours a week on the bike and give you the option to substitute the occasional workout for online races. That means you can still ride with your friends online while getting the benefits of a structured training plan. As with all of The Sufferfest training plans, you can add optional yoga for cyclists and mental toughness training with the click of a button.