24 Hour TT World Champion Meaghan Hackinen - Successful Athletes Podcast 005

Meaghan Hackinen discusses how she used TrainerRoad to help her train and prepare to become the 24 Hour Time Trial World Champion, in Episode 005 of The Successful Athletes Podcast.


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As a long distance TTer (but only so far 12 hrs) I am really looking forward to watching this.

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Meaghan is amazing. Had the pleasure of interviewing her a few weeks ago - she’s super inspiring!

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Thanks @thisisgrace - YOU are an amazing athlete and interviewer! It’s a pleasure to know you. Hopefully we meet in person one day!

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Look forward to listening and great to see the coverage for ultra cycling.

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It was a great watch, @Meaghanhackinen - really inspiring stuff! I’m aiming for a 24h TT in the UK, next year now. So many useful nuggets to think about over winter.

You mention you did some really long rides in training - Did you use any of your longer rides as “dry runs” where you practiced (or set) race-pace, tried race-day nutrition?
The pace-setting aspect of this kind of racing really interests me (having not yet done one!) - 20h is a long time to suffer if you overdo the first 100 miles.

Hi @GregElwell!
I’m glad you enjoyed the podcast, and have a 24-hr TT to shoot for!

The important thing to remember is: EVERYONE GOES OUT TOO HARD!

If you can manage your pace, you’ll have a much better chance of not only finishing, but finishing faster, and not feeling like a heap of crap once it’s all over. You’ll also probably end up passing half of the people who ripped by you in the first half of the TT, and that’s gonna feel so good!

Yes, I did pace rides once a week for 2 months leading into the events (and just a lot of time on the bike prior to that). For the 2018 TT I had A LOT of time, so I could really commit to this. Pace ride duration progressed as follows: 6 hrs, 8 hrs, 10 hrs, 16 hrs, 12 hrs, 8 hrs, 8 hrs (in two separate 4 hour blocks), 4 hrs,
For the 2019 TT I had less time, so I did rides between 6-10 hrs, depending on my schedule.
The main purpose of these pace rides was to find what pace I could sustain for a long period, get used to riding aero, and practice fuelling on the bike. I aimed for terrain similar to race terrain (in my case, flat) with few stoplights or interruptions.
Hope this helps - let me know if any other questions come to mind!

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@Meaghanhackinen - that is super-helpful! Particularly seeing how you structured the progression. I can see how that would allow both time to dial in the pacing simultaneously with the fuelling. Maybe the egg croissant worked in training? :wink:

Joking aside, it sounds like the fuelling was one of the biggest learning points from 2018 - in spite of trying some fuelling options, they didn’t all work out for you. It must be hard to predict what you’ll feel like eating (and be able to tolerate) at 3am when you’re 10 hours in and working hard. Is that something that only comes through actually being there/doing that? Or did those 10/16/12h test sessions actually get you 80% of the fuel options sorted?

@GregElwell - the shorter rides definitely help! I think, for me anyways, the problem is that it gets harder and harder to digest food as the time frame, heat, and intensity ramp up. I was dragging my heels coming home from a 16 hr pace ride, but as soon I got home and had a proper meal my energy levels were restored. But with 24 hours, there’s just so many things that make it difficult to eat, from physical fatigue to mental fatigue to GI distress.
I didn’t talk much about it in the podcast, but in 2019 I switched to a more liquid diet (Tailwinds and natural juices), supplemented with bananas, gels, and madeline cookies. This went over much better, but by 18 hrs in, I was having a difficult time again.
I guess it’s just a process, and by eating more on the bike you get better at digesting/using the carbs, but it’s not something you can dial in overnight, and it’s definitely something I still struggle with for intense rides over 12 hours.

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Very impressive Meaghan. A quick calculation shows something like 18 mph (30 kph) over 24 hours. At 60ish%, you must be really fast on short ride. I am jealous :). I have tried probably 15 24 hours rides and have not been able to break 300 miles, not really close. I am old and slow, but gastro issues very hard to solve, even if can find something that works on an 8 hour ride it does not seem to extend. For me, heat is also very problematic.

What made you decide on sweet spot rather than traditional base? Because you have enough distance / time in your legs?

How many calories / hour do you think you consume? I found it much harder to consume as the ride gets longer, which makes it harder to ride …

You should try the National 24 hour in Michigan some time. Great event. You can use me as a carrot to see how many times you can pass me. You can drag the TR gang with you.

Thanks for doing the podcast, it is nice to hear some ultra inspirations.

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Excellent questions! Congrats on all your 24-hour endeavours - what awesome stories you must have! I’ll do my best to provide useful answers, but am afraid they may come up unsatisfactory.

  1. Your calculations are correct: I sustained a pace of around 31 km/hr during both 24-hr TTs. It’s really difficult for me to gauge how high the intensity is, however, since I don’t do many shorter rides (unless they’re intervals session or commutes), and I generally tend to avoided speedometers - which is a whole other story, but suffice it to say that numbers stress me out more than they should. I’m cool with power, though - power is great!

I think, in retrospect, that I was probably going out a higher percentage of my FTP, and hopefully by training consistently with power I’ll have a better idea of what the number is. The course at Borrego Springs is really flat and fast, and using the aero TT bike and wheels does increase the speed quite a bit. Most of my training riders were slower than my pace on course, funnily enough, despite being shorter.

  1. I decided to do Sweet Spot because I wanted to try something different, and yes, I have a lot of miles on these legs! I generally do a 6-16 hour ride once a week, and figured that would be sufficient to build my base (sometimes I incorporate outside workouts into these rides, but usually I just ride). I wanted to keep some degree of flexibility and fun in my workouts, and figured these longer ones fill that purpose, and give me a chance to practice my nutrition, navigation, and fuelling.

  2. Calories - oh man! Not enough, that’s for sure. I aimed for a minimum of 200 calories/hr but that all got pretty skewed mid ride when my brainpower declined. I should probably have been consuming more, but my stomach just wasn’t having it. I think it was on a TR podcast episode where they discussed fuelling long events that I heard you only need about 16% (don’t quote me!) of your calorie usage to sustain yourself for an Ironman-length distance. I’ll see if I can find the podcast, because it was a good one: all about nutrition. A 24-hr TT is longer, though perhaps slightly less intense than an Ironman, but I was encouraged to know that I didn’t have to replenish all my calories. The next day I ate like a demon, however.

Agreed that what works on an 8-hr right may not extend. I can totally empathize! I didn’t mention it in the podcast, but I tried more liquids in 2019, as well as in recent long rides, and liquids have actually worked quite well: natural fruit/veg juices (I have a juicer), carb powder, oat milk, orange juice, V8 juice - all have been working for me, and are fairly high in carbs and calories. I think experimentation has helped me figure out what works, and just practicing proper nutrition on longer rides.

  1. I’ve heard of the National 24-hour ride in Michigan! If Canada ever reopens it borders, you’ll definitely see me down there. It might be awhile though! :slight_smile:

Let me know if this hits all your questions! Happy training - hope you have the opportunity to do some fun rides this summer.

Thanks Meaghan, you definitely are providing good advice and inspiration.

I have tried all liquid and did not have great success until last year. I think I need to do more on all rides to build up stomach tolerance. For me it is not the calories necessarily, but some years I could not keep down even pure water. I have enough fat storage for well longer than 24 hours!

Your training definitely shows that I need more consistent long rides as well. I need to up my game. Was concentrating too much on shorter trying to get faster.

I have not seen any 24 hour rides in Canada so think we are stuck for now but hope you are okay in the fall for California.

Sounds like you’re on the right path with trying to build up the stomach tolerance! Sustaining nutrition for longer rides is a more difficult task than it appears - and just like training your legs, it doesn’t happen overnight.

That’s pretty rough about not being able to even drink water - ouch! I think things like heat/level of exertion definitely impact ability to tolerate nutrition/hydration. I know in my case, if I’m riding at a comfortable pace in comfortable temperatures, I can basically eat anything and go forever. But when things start getting challenging, I find it harder to tolerate food, and I often start slacking on my liquids as well. For the 24-hr TT, I used a sauna to heat adapt before I went down to Borrego Springs. I knew that if I just threw myself into a hot environment, it could have terrible consequences.

RE: long vs short rides. I’m not sure what the balance is, and while shorter training sessions (2 hrs or less) are a better bang for your buck in terms of time, nothing can simulate race conditions like time on the bike - of course, you can practice eating/drinking on short sessions as well. For me, one long ride a week seems like it’s enough (could probably do one every 2 weeks and still be fine) - but I’ll definitely up the mileage when I have an event in sight.

For now, I hope you finds some fun long rides to explore!