Home » PPP: 016 Xterra Racing & Training Secrets with 3X Xterra World Champion Lesley Paterson!

PPP: 016 Xterra Racing & Training Secrets with 3X Xterra World Champion Lesley Paterson!

Today’ I’m Pumped to be bringing back to the podcast, professional triathlete, 3X World Xterra champion & Braveheart Coaching Co-founder, Lesley Paterson!


Lesley, welcome back to the show!  Okay, a lot has happened since we last talked, most notably, in 2018 you won the ITU World Cross Championship and then capped off the year by winning your 3rd Xterra World Championship, congratulations!  

For those of you listeners that are not familiar with Lesley’s long battle with Lyme’s Disease, can you share with us how you were able to overcome this debilitating health challenge?

Today’s topic is: Xterra Racing & Training Secrets.

As a 3X Xterra World Champion, I can think of nobody better to help us drill down on training and racing tips, tools & strategies for this exciting form of triathlon.

After racing road triathlons for well over 10 years, last year I finally toed the start line of my first two Xterra triathlons and they were blast!  What was interesting was that despite going into those races with decent fitness, it was a totally different world and I got smoked!! It’s not quite as simple as just swapping out your TT bike for mountain bike and getting some beefier running shoes is it?

Let me ask a broad, 3000 ft view question first, then we can drill down: what are some of the biggest differences between Xterra training & racing vs road triathlon training & racing?

Let’s focus on training for the mountain bike leg.  When comparing power & heart rate files over the course of a ride, mountain bike files seem much more erratic than road bike rides, it seems like all ride long you can end up going from zero to redline and the more technical the trail is the more erratic the output becomes.  What are some of the best ways to design training rides when the trail terrain can make holding certain power numbers or heart rates difficult?

Because maneuvering a mountain bike over technical terrain requires much more upper body strength, are there any specific weight training exercises that Xterra athletes should be doing to better help them handle their bike and also help to limit rider fatigue?

What are you thoughts on mixing in road bike or TT bike work into your plan?  Is this helpful and if so, how often?

Let’s Talk Gear: Is there  any essential or just plain cool mountain bike gear that you found helpful in Xterra racing?

Let’s now jump into the RUN

One of the most surprising things that I learned on my very first Xterra race last year was just how much technical skill good trail runners have compared to us novice trail runners.  There were a few slick sections down a rocky descent where I thought I was going a good pace then BOOM I got passed by some experienced racers that made it look like I was just standing still!

What are the top 2 or 3 things that people can work on to help them become better, faster trail runners?

Do you recommend Xterra athletes do most of their run training on trails or do you like them to mix in some road or track workouts as well?

Now the Best Part; Racing!

One of the biggest questions I have for you is how do you handle pacing on the mountain bike leg?  It seems so easy to overdo it especially on those technical courses that require big surges of power to climb hills & overcome big obstacles.

Any favorite forms of nutrition for the bike leg, this was more of a challenge than I expected especially when you can go many minutes before even feeling comfortable taking one hand off the handlebar!?

Similar questions for the run, any tactics for pacing yourself during the run or is pacing even necessary?  On some technical courses is it a good idea to hammer every smooth section you can knowing that you may be able to recover a bit on the more technical sections?

Recover:  Should Xterra athletes be doing anything different to maximize their recovery between sessions & races?

What are some of your favorite “must do’s” to maximize recovery?  This could be nutrition tips, modalities etc.

I think that covers a TON of helpful topics for our listeners!

Lets talk for a moment about coaching.  You along with your husband Simon who has a PhD in Sport and Exercise Psychology are the founders of Braveheart coaching.  Do you offer coaching for athletes like us that are way out here on the east coast or in other areas of the globe?

Lesley as we get ready to wrap things up today, do you have any last words of wisdom for our listeners?

Lesley, thank you for providing our listeners so much actionable advice!  One last question: How can people connect and follow you?

I will put a link to each of ways you can connect with Lesley in our show notes page @ www.peakperformancepodcast.com.

Lesley thank you so much, I wish for you an abundance of success this year and in they years ahead!! Cheers!!


Braveheart Coaching

The Brave Athlete Book

Lesley Paterson’s 6-minute 6-pack

Nino Schurter Workouts

Togs Thumb Grips

This concludes today’s episode of The Peak Performance Podcast, where we discuss tips, tools and strategies for optimizing athletic performance, overall health & wellness! Please SUBSCRIBE to this podcast so that you never miss a future episode, also PLEASE SHARE this podcast with ANYONE you feel may benefit from what we covered today.


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