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  1. #1
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    General training approach for power-based training?

    I've been training and road racing using a power meter for almost 10 years. I do a mix of structured training and group rides, but the general approach is:

    1-2 months of endurance/low tempo (depending on starting fitness)
    1.5 months of high tempo and FTP work
    1.5 months of Vo2
    Rest week every 4th week
    At that point, I'm ready for racing and group rides to build remaining fitness. I think that's a pretty standard approach to road training, everyone changes the details to suit their schedules and goals.

    I'm new to MTB racing (did a couple races this year) and really interested in doing some marathon races this year and Leadville or one of the other 100 milers later in the year.

    I'm wonder how I should adjust my training approach for Marathon MTB. My gut says more tempo/high volume and FTP and less Vo2 (since I can't see spending much time in this zone while racing). I still think there is some value in V02, but I always need to cut way back on volume when doing V02 work and figure that might do more harm than good for endurance events.

    I'm not looking for a specific plan, but wondering if there is a general phased/balanced approach that most use for endurance MTB. Any guidance is appreciated.

  2. #2
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    I am following Alban Lakata, who lives not far from me, on Strava. He does a lot of baserides of course, but also VO2max. It is really interesting to see how his coaches mix it up. From shorter 8min efforts at FTP to 30 min Tempo intervals. As you feel yourself VO2max demands reduced volume or quality rest, but IMO there is room for VO2max also for marathon racers, After all lifting your aerobic engine is what we work for....

  3. #3
    LMN
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    The benifits of MAP or Vo2 training happen quite quickly. After 6 workouts (a three week block) you probably have gotten all the gains you are going to get.

    With that in mind I think your approach is good, but you could shorten the Vo2 max bit and extend the base period. The base period is probably the most critical phase of your training and where the majority of the fitness gains are made.

    That being said, I am a big fan of doing some Vo2 max work year round.
    "The best pace is suicide pace, and today is a good day to die." Steve Prefontaine

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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN View Post
    The benifits of MAP or Vo2 training happen quite quickly. After 6 workouts (a three week block) you probably have gotten all the gains you are going to get.

    With that in mind I think your approach is good, but you could shorten the Vo2 max bit and extend the base period. The base period is probably the most critical phase of your training and where the majority of the fitness gains are made.

    That being said, I am a big fan of doing some Vo2 max work year round.
    LMN - I see lots of coaches in cycling generally focusing on around 2x4wk V02Max "blocks" or a combination of one 4wk threshold/<110% V02Max followed by another 4wk block of V02Max work (a 4wk block being 3wks on/1wk recovery). I can't imagine they'd recommend doing that sort of work if they didn't feel you would still get gains after 6 sessions.

    An free example from Hunter Allen would be here, but Trainerroad is structured somewhat similarly for many of their build plans too: Hunter Allen Power Blog: What to Do Next: A VO2Max Intensive Plan

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by peter85 View Post
    LMN - I see lots of coaches in cycling generally focusing on around 2x4wk V02Max "blocks" or a combination of one 4wk threshold/<110% V02Max followed by another 4wk block of V02Max work (a 4wk block being 3wks on/1wk recovery). I can't imagine they'd recommend doing that sort of work if they didn't feel you would still get gains after 6 sessions.

    An free example from Hunter Allen would be here, but Trainerroad is structured somewhat similarly for many of their build plans too: Hunter Allen Power Blog: What to Do Next: A VO2Max Intensive Plan
    8 weeks was conventional view for a long time (your article is from 2014). However, recently, it has been found that nearly all the gains made in the first 4 week block.

    I have coached, and coach many elite level racers. My experience is that they get rapid gains from Vo2 max training, however they quickly plateau after a few sessions. My standard measurement is average wattage for 6 x 4 minutes, 4 minutes rest best effort.

    I always like to hear from others. Are people finding a second vo2 max block is beneficial or do they experience a plateau after the first one.
    "The best pace is suicide pace, and today is a good day to die." Steve Prefontaine

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    My coach has me doing (typically) 2 weeks of 3 consecutive vo2 workouts. At 50, I feel pretty damn spent at the end of the second and am thankful for the end as it often has me quite wasted for the following week (sometimes week and a half). Note that I'm typically training for xcm though.

    Also frequently doing consecutive days of vo2 every other week during the racing season (typically racing 1x/month) - 3 sets 4 x 3, 1.5min rbi is a pretty common set. We consider tabatas as a vo2 (not sure if this is common) and there are other common workouts such as "race winning intervals" (think inverted pyramids) and similar (x min @ vo2, "recover" at sweet spot end with vo2 or anaerobic).

    Love/Hate these blocks. Can't fathom doing 3 weeks worth x 2 - maybe 10-20 yrs ago. Kudos to those who can.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN View Post
    8 weeks was conventional view for a long time (your article is from 2014). However, recently, it has been found that nearly all the gains made in the first 4 week block.

    I have coached, and coach many elite level racers. My experience is that they get rapid gains from Vo2 max training, however they quickly plateau after a few sessions. My standard measurement is average wattage for 6 x 4 minutes, 4 minutes rest best effort.

    I always like to hear from others. Are people finding a second vo2 max block is beneficial or do they experience a plateau after the first one.
    So would you say the 4wk threshold and then 4wk V02 intervals is the more contemporary approach? Or are threshold and super-threshold intensities just being dialed back generally speaking?

    Personally - I definitely had gains earlier this year in my 2nd 4wk block of V02 max, but I was also adding a lot of volume generally, so it was far from an isolated change to my training.

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    LMN
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    Quote Originally Posted by peter85 View Post
    So would you say the 4wk threshold and then 4wk V02 intervals is the more contemporary approach? Or are threshold and super-threshold intensities just being dialed back generally speaking?
    That is an approach that I do use.

    I do know some coaches though, who do no threshold work at all. They do a massive amount of base and then six weeks before the first A race focus on MAP. And they have had success with that approach.

    I have also see a lot of success from mixing. For example 2, four week block as follows
    Tuesday: MAP
    Wednesday: Aerobic Capacity
    Thursday: Threshold.
    Friday: easy
    Saturday: Race simulation. Some thing like 3 x 20 minutes race sims.
    Sunday: Aerobic Capacity.

    I know all three approaches work. And even after a dozen years of coaching high level racers I can't say with any confidence which is "best".
    "The best pace is suicide pace, and today is a good day to die." Steve Prefontaine

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    LMN - are those race simulations approaching MAP for any period of time or how do you see them working out. Just kind of curious bc conventionally you see 2-3 VO2Max interval sessions (not necessarily MAP) a week in a VO2-focused block.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN View Post

    I know all three approaches work. And even after a dozen years of coaching high level racers I can't say with any confidence which is "best".
    I saw a lecture recently from Stephen Seiler and he also couldn't nail down the specific type and structure of intensity that is most beneficial. He stood buy the 80/20 rule, but he couldn't say what the 20% of intensity should be composed of or how it should look...

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by peter85 View Post
    LMN - are those race simulations approaching MAP for any period of time or how do you see them working out. Just kind of curious bc conventionally you see 2-3 VO2Max interval sessions (not necessarily MAP) a week in a VO2-focused block.
    The race simulations definitely some time at MAP. But the power output values are not as high as you would see in an interval session.

    One of things to keep in mind is balancing what is best for physiological adaptation and what is best for race performance. I believe to that to race fast you have to practice racing fast, this means either race sims or preparation races.

    The four pillars of mountain bike racing are physiological, technical, mental, and tactical. It is really easy to get focused on the physiological and forget about the others. I know personally that improving my tactical (eating, drinking and pacing) would make the single biggest difference to my racing.
    "The best pace is suicide pace, and today is a good day to die." Steve Prefontaine

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN View Post
    The race simulations definitely some time at MAP.
    I'm not part of the "in" crowd when it comes to training lingo -- anyone care to share what "MAP" is? Best I came up with upon googling was "MAP training: combining meditation and aerobic exercise", but that didn't seem right...
    "The plural of anecdote is not data." -- Attributed to various people in a variety of forms, but always worth remembering...

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    Basically MAP = 120-128% of FTP. This article might be a bit easier to digest: How VO2 Max Work Makes You Fast ‚ÄĒ The Science Behind It All¬*

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    Question for you guys on here, I try to spend 3 days in the woods for my training rides and 1 day on a trainer with specific intervals in mind. Which intervals have you found to be more beneficial for longer races? My 3 days outside are spent on endurance building with one ride i will do 3x20min at threshold pace. it works but i feel like i am leaving alot on the table. unfortunately 4 days a week is all i have to ride as well

  16. #16
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    In a similar line of thought to the OP and Twins above I am also interested in adapting my power to longer enduarance efforts. This will be my second season racing and last under 40. I have solid power for about 20 seconds (~20w/kg) which then craters down to 4.2w/kg for FTP. I canít reasonably lose more than 2 kilos from my current winter weight. I did a fair amount of VO2 max work work last year and lots of long rides for about 14-16hr training a week. I donít want to lose sprint power but really all I care about is long efforts since I prefer the XCM (12hr/100mi/etc) format.

    Are the 10-20min intervals where itís at for boosting long duration power along with 3-5hr rides on the weekends? Has anyone else seen a power profile like mine built up over the first couple seasons with this type of HIT? I canít help but feel like these short all out efforts might be training the wrong end of my power curve given its current shape.

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    I'm quite bi-modal (good less than 1min pwr and 20min - 6hrs). Over the last 2ish years, we've been trying to improve my "efficiency" at race pace (which is typically high z2/low z3) so occasionally I'll do "intervals" up to 2hrs at tempo (LOOOWWWWW tempo).

    But to add to the confusion, I'll often have sets that run the spectrum and sometimes that'll be in the same week or two. I'm no coach (and apparently my coach) but I do subscribe to the raising "FTP" from above and below approach.

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