2006 Top Ten List

Top 10 ways to prepare for an XTERRA
By Melanie McQuaid

August 17th, 2006 Back by popular demand, two-time XTERRA world champion Melanie McQuaid offers her top 10 tips for XTERRA success. Check out www.simplystu.com for a feature interview with McQuaid and even more XTERRA training and racing information.


10. Start a swim program

Starting a swim program means enrolling yourself in coached practices. Because swimming is such an incredibly technical sport, hacking out miles and miles with a bad stroke is not as effective as less distance with more efficiency. You need someone to help you improve your stroke mechanics first and foremost, so enlist the experts at your local pool, YMCA or triathlon club.

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The Tucson Triathlon Training Camp

The past week I have been training with the Canadian national triathlon team down in Tucson, Arizona. This is my first trip to Tucson and I have to say this place kicks ass for training. This camp has a great vibe and I am so appreciating Triathlon Canada for setting this program up for us because I couldn’t be benefiting more from this experience. Of course, I am getting my butt kicked daily in the pool, am working super hard on the bike and I am running on hilly, sandy trails so I am almost too tired to laugh at the goofy SNL dvds we are watching all the time. It is so great to get away from home to focus 100% on training because in this kind of environment it is so much easier to recover from hard training. My program for these three weeks has been very ambitious and I am happy with how things are going but it hasn’t all been easy sailing. This week is completely different from my cycling training camp I did three weeks ago at home so a lot of new stimuli have been challenging to adapt to.

I spend the winter doing weeks of big cycling mileage to push my base up and prepare myself for harder and more intense work as the season approaches. The point of this camp was to push to a higher load than I have ever done but keep it more balanced and triathlon-focused rather than mostly cycling. It is great to increase my swim volume because more time in the water will inevitably lead to better swimming. However, I wanted to keep the volume and intensity of my riding high to help me prepare for riding hard at Sea Otter in three weeks and at all the Xterra races this year. I will give you a weekly breakdown of exactly what I did this week and why I did it…

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Winning Under Pressure – Conquering Keystone!!

No victory is as satisfying as when you MUST win; all the pressure is on you to perform, and you are the target. This was the case this year at Keystone because if I didn’t win and tie up the points series, a win at Tahoe might not have meant an overall for me. Given that Jamie Whitmore has won this race for the past three years, convincingly, one would assume the odds were against me. The course is all above 9300 feet, peaking out at 11, 700 feet, the swim is very short, the bike is very short, and the run is very long. Looking at my resume, this wouldn’t look like a suited course for me. But for the past two weeks I have brushed that aside, moved in with my Saucony teammate Josiah Middaugh in Vail, Colorado, and made it my mission to win this race, with the kind of intensity I usually reserve for Hawaii. And it paid off! I led from mile two of the bike course and from there continued to put time on my competitors until I finished with three minutes at the finish. Particulary satisfying is the minute I put on Jamie on the run course and given that I have been passed on the run at the last two races in the final metres to lose by seconds this is significant! So, altitude schmaltitude, Tahoe will be mine!!! I am pretty excited, obviously, because this is a huge confidence boost for the US Finals in Lake Tahoe, at a measly 6700 feet. A lot of great stuff happened since our fun times in Crested Butte, so read on for the story…. Continue reading “Winning Under Pressure – Conquering Keystone!!”