Hey everyone! I’m hoping to get some input on my training and what I believe would be beneficial to add. For context, I’ve been training for two years, primarily focusing on gravel racing. During this time, I’ve progressed from the back quarter of the pack to the front quarter in terms of placement. However, there’s still a decent gap to the front, and I’m seeking advice on how to continue improving. I recognize part of this is just a lack of fitness as I’m sitting at ~4w/kg and I imagine the front of the pack is probably closer to 5w/kg.
I used TrainerRoad for about a year and a half and have been self-coaching for the last six months. Currently, I ride 9-10 hours per week, incorporating two hard interval sessions and one longer 3-4 hour Z2 ride. On interval days, I usually add some Z2 riding at the end to get in a total of 2-2.5 hours. The remaining hours come from Z2 trainer rides. The interval sessions can include SS, threshold, O/U, or Vo2 depending on where I’m at in the season.
Most of my races are 3.5-5.5 hours long, and I’ve noticed a struggle to maintain good power output, muscle fatigue, and occasional cramping after 2-3 hours. I fuel well with 90-110g/hr of carbs. I suspect I’m not accustomed to the longer intense efforts experienced in races. I don’t race all that often, once a month at most. Additionally I don’t believe pacing is the issue.
In conversations with the riders finishing ahead of me I’ve found that many participate in hard group rides or longer challenging sessions. Initially, I avoided these types of training sessions as I had heard from various podcast that while these sessions can be hard, they do little in regards to training adaptations.
My plan moving forward is to incorporate a longer 3-5 hour unstructured ride into my weekly training during my next build phase. This may involve a group ride or a “soul ride,” focusing on riding tempo and sweet spot with threshold power on hills, similar to the race conditions I encounter.
I aim to use these rides as race simulations to induce adaptations that can help me maintain pace in the later stages of races. Additionally, I plan to spend more time on my MTB, as it seems to add a level of stress to the legs and stabilizing muscles more closely resembling the fatigue experienced in gravel races over rough terrain.
I recognize that I’m still new to racing and have many improvements to look forward to, this just seemed like some low hanging fruit may be beneficial. Any experienced gravel racers out there have any input on this?
TLDR: I’m considering adding longer, more intense 3-5 hour efforts to better prepare for gravel races. Seeking advice on incorporating race simulation rides and spending more time on the MTB.
Thanks in advance