Dwellingup Xterra Build & Race Report
Updated: Jan 7, 2020
This blog entry will provide some insight into the training leading up to the Dwellingup Xterra where Hilton Power won his age group, placed second overall, and qualified for the World Championships for 2020.
As Hilton will explain later in this blog, he suffered a collarbone break while mountain biking in July. He came to me in August with the goal of winning his age group, qualifying for the World Champs and getting his fitness back after the rest period he had during his collarbone recovery.
Hilton's collarbone before (left) and after (right)
With a young family and three kids, a labour intensive job (carpenter), Hilton has a limited time to train each week so our focus is on quality over quantity. This involved a staple vo2 max wattbike session early in the week, a run interval session, extra short easy runs (around 5kms), a moderate distance Fartlek, tempo or negative split run, one long weekend run and ride, and one or two short runs off the bike per week. We only had time for two swims per week - one focused on recovery after the weekend and the other either on endurance, speed, or strength (or a mix of all three) depending on the month and phase of training. A short period of Achilles inflammation meant more time on the bike for a few weeks and a diagnosis of a parasite infection also resulted in less volume and intensity over a short period during this build.
Average monthly training hours were as follows:
September: 25 hours 36mins
October: 29 hours 41mins
November: 27 hours 1min
This averages just under 7 hours per week of training (actual 'moving time'), with some weeks higher than this, and other weeks lower during recovery or race weeks.
*Note that Garmin only accounts for actual swim time moving (i.e. 1 hour in the pool might equate to only 50min 'moving time' with rest periods, the same goes for running and cycling).
In terms of bike strength, we measured his base fitness using the standard 20min FTP test on the Watt bike and re-tested one week prior to racing. As you can see, throughout the three months his best 20min power continued to rise from the original base testing of just over 2 watts per/kg and a final result well over 4 watts per/kg in less than 12 weeks.
*Note: We only tested at the start of the training block and at the end, the rest of the peak performances were attained during training sessions.
Performance Management Chart (3 months)
While this build went exceptionally well (even with a few hiccups) in such a short period of time, this gives us confidence that with more time leading into the World Championships, we can aim to have Hilton at competitive level of fitness by the end of next year.
Race Report - Hilton Power
Dwellingup Xterra Australian Championship
Build to Xterra
Xterra was on my radar from last year when they cancelled it so I was really keen to have a crack this year. After a good result at the Dunsborough X-Adventure, I was pretty confident I would be able to give it a red hot go. However, on the 20th of July I was out mountain biking with mates and came in to a berm a bit hot and lost the front wheel in the pea gravel and went down holding onto the handle bars with my shoulder taking the full impact (Ouch). I got up and tried to move my arm but it felt like nothing was holding my arm on. I could feel bone on bone grinding. I put my hand into my riding top and my collarbone was almost poking out of the skin. It was then that the pain kicked in (I had forgotten what real pain was like untill then).
Long story short, my mates got me out and drove me to Royal Perth Hospital. It just so happened that my wife was working as a physio that day (not the ideal lunch date). I got x-rays and had surgery the next day to plate it back together. Not an ideal build-up to a race only 4 months away!!
Recovery was then the number one priority. I made sure I did every thing I could to recover as fast as possible - by eating as clean as I could, walking 5km every day until I could get back into the gym onto the watt bike. Within a month I was back trail running and racing. I won the PTS Rottnest Island Half Marathon one month after my injury.
My next goal was a 3-month build up to the Dwellingup Xterra Australian Champs with the goal of getting a spot to the World Champs in Maui 2020. Only the winner of each age group gets a spot so I had to win the 34-39 age group to achieve my goal.
Another setback during this time was feeling like I could not recover from training or work and had super low energy. I ended up having a test done and found I had picked up 3 different parasites and had to go on a week long script of really grunty antibiotics. This almost broke me. I felt sick every day with even less energy and could barely train for the week. It was as hard mentally as it was on my body. Three weeks out you really want to be smashing your training.
1km Open Water Swim (2x500m laps)
30km Mountain Bike
10km Trail Run
I get really nervous (excited) in the lead up to a big race so race day is a lot of pacing in the morning. With not a huge field we started in the water for the swim and I managed to sit on the feet of the first 2 guys and not have to go into the red too much, which was my plan.
I came out of the water in 3rd place, got the wet-suit off and then had to run 400m uphill to transition. I was in 2nd by then and came out onto the bike with the guy in 1st place. I knew my biking was strong and I wanted to test Manu Hovette, a guy from over east, early to see what he had so I went straight past him and he got on my wheel. When we hit the first big hill I put the hammer down and climbed away. I continued to put time into him on the mountain bike. I had an awesome ride and felt super strong on the bike.
Coming into the run it was really starting to get hot so I slowed down my transition and got water and a gel on board. The run was hard as it was very open and hot. The first 3km was uphill and had two really hard steep uphill sections that I had to walk up (I never walk up hills) It was 2x laps of a 5km circuit and lucky they had a drink station at the top where I could pour some water over my head and get a drink.
I felt really good running off the bike and strong until the end. I was happy to see the finish line and get the win in my age group and second overall in time to complete the event, which includes the elite wave. I also managed the fastest run of the day.
What I learned in the build into this race:
Never give up on your goals - just find ways to make them happen. I had a far from perfect build up but still got there in the end. Attitude is everything and consistency in getting your training done is key. I’m not going to say it was easy - but it was doable.
Perth Trail Series - Summer Series
Some OXC Mountain Bike Races
Xterra World Championship (November 8th, 2020) (my A race for the year)
Photos by Marco Noe