Ultracycling: tips for a good physical and mental preparation

How to get ready for an ultracycling challenge? We spoke to Paolo Laureti, ultracycling champion, who gave us his very own advice. Let’s see what it is.

Preparation and motivation are just two sides of the same coin, in the way that committing to a specific preparation makes us more motivated and determined.
As a matter of fact, preparation and motivation are important in all sports and really constitute the necessary condition for any high level performance. Even more so when it comes to ultra endurance challenges and, as in this case, ultracycling events.
Ultracycler in training

Structure and quality

There are quite a few clichés in the world of ultra distances; one of the most negative is the belief that, in this discipline, in order to get ‘ready’ you have only to stack up exhausting rides, lots of hours and miles; that’s why many people only focus on quantity, with no structure and proper quality in their training.
The main risk associated with this approach is that we turn up at our target event completely empty of energy and with the highest chance of not being able to achieve our goal.
I’ll give you an example. During my first 24h MTB event in Rome I had to withdraw from the race during the night for a crash: due to a far-from-ideal preparation I arrived at the race too tired and, hence, not clear-headed enough. And of course this taught me how to better manage both preparation and racing phases. Two years later at the 24hours of Rome, thanks to a specific preparation and plenty of motivation, I took second place in the general behind Morgan Pilley.
And this is true not only for those who are aiming at top performance, but also for those who decide to participate in an ultra endurance challenge, on- and off-road alike, with the sole objective of getting to the finish line.
Structure and quality must serve as a basis for our preparation, if we really want to take part in an ultracycling event.

Set goals

In order to be able to plan a structured season of ultracycling events, keeping properly motivated at all times, we must set goals that will enable us to optimise our periodisation of performance peaks. Training without well-planned goals for the season ahead, with no structure, could compromise the entire preparation. With the risk – it is always around the corner – of overtraining.

Training indoor

Seek advice from a qualified coach

In order to prepare to the best of your ability, with proper structure and quality, and to establish your seasonal goals, the advice is to rely on a qualified coach, who ideally has previous experience with endurance athletes. Even more if the approach is fully ‘racing’. The presence of a coach and structured training have been essential to me, even from the motivation perspective. With a coach working alongside us, we can stay focussed on preparation with a more composed and solid attitude, and with greater determination.

Ability to manage difficult situations

During the ultracycling events I took part in, it has not been all about pushing on the pedals at all times: I had to face difficult situations, too. Like night riding, navigation, sleep deprivation, etc. How can we face this kind of difficulty and properly manage them if we cannot count on solid motivation and adequate physical conditioning?
A proper physical and mental preparation will allow us not only to achieve the objectives we have set but also to actually enjoy ourselves when the time comes. This is only possible if we are careful managing our training.