After 12 years of racing, my first foray into structured training….but when?

Hello Trainerroad, posse!!! After 12 years of MTB singlespeed racing, I’ve finally caved and bought a Wahoo Kickr to start indoor structured training for the first time. I’ve had some decent results “just riding” with a 3rd and a 5th place finish at the Wilderness 101 and a few other podiums over the years at various endurance events. I’m guessing that structured training and more specifically intervals are what I’m missing in my training. At 50 years old, I’m hoping that 2023 will be my best season yet. My question is when should I start a base training plan for the Trans-sylvania Epic 5 day stage race at the end of May? I’ll do some other endurance B races in March and April as well. Should I wait and just ride outside for fun in the fall and start base over the winter or start a trainerroad plan now? Thanks!

Have you tried PlanBuilder? It allows you to input your A event and any other B races and will provide a plan to peak for the A race.


The full base/build/speciality cycle takes 28 weeks, and more base on top of that always helps. So start backwards from your target race.

But this time of year is too good to waste - temps are not as high but it’s not yet cold and miserable, there is still plenty of daylight, trails are open…

My suggestion would be to look at the plans to see how they are structured, but not follow them in detail yet. Instead, use the Train Now feature to do a couple of indoor structured sessions during the week, but use the weekends outdoors to continue to practice your MTB skills, or to get in some longer endurance rides in September/October.

This combines training wih purpose, with still riding outside for fun.


Ditto to this, and for the sake of covering the bases, here is the official TR support article:


I’m pretty sure you’re breaking the ethos of Single-speeding with this post but… jokes aside, as a mountain biker who definitely prefers “just riding” this is what I do to make training as much fun and sustainable as possible.

Get yourself on the Low Volume version of a plan builder plan, pick a couple of key events (A races, T Epic), plug in your B races and plan builder spits you out a pretty decent annual training plan. You can start as early as you’d like, you’ll get a ton of value by doing a lot of base work and it’s easier to plug in fun rides during base period (for me). Plus, the earlier you start the more time you’ll get to “get used” to riding with some structure, by the time your build phase comes around, you’ll be used to getting your work outs done first.

Low volume is 3 key workouts per week, that typically allows me to get out and ride for fun, while hitting the marks. I know what workouts I need to be fresh for at this point, so I’ll stay away from heavy/fast group rides leading up to those, but there’s no getting away from a little trial and error.

Push as many TR workouts outside as you can, assuming you have the terrain. I know you just got that fancy trainer but I’m telling you, the value is in riding outside, the weather will force you inside eventually anyway. I can do most of my work outdoors since I’m in WNC and have some longer gravel road climbs that are good for intervals (for the more complex workouts and VO2 Max I do prefer to do inside). My favorite workout session is nailing some under/overs and then blasting some single track for an hour or more all in the same outdoor session.

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Thanks, guys!!! Good stuff.

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I’d recommend you read, or at least scan through, Joe Friel’s Training Bible. Then you will, at least, understand what TR is trying to do with base, build, peak phases of training. One mistake newbies seem make is to jump into build cycles at the wrong time. But you aren’t a newbie so it will help you if you sketched out your season. TR will do it for you but it will help to understand the big picture.

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Ok…I’m setting up Plan Builder and organizing my plan but I have another question. I almost have unlimited time because my son is away at college and the wife fully supports me being on the bike. If I’m starting with the mid volume Polarized Base Plan and want to still do my long easy MTB rides on the weekend, do I do all the Trainerroad workouts during the week including the two easy days and just add the two 3-5 hour easy rides on the weekends or push the easy plan rides to the weekend and just make them longer? I hope this question makes sense. Thanks! I’m really looking forward to getting started but I’m not looking forward to the ramp test.

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I’m interested in how others answer this.
I think a lot depends on how easy your “easy” MTB rides are.
I’m currently doing low volume polarized, and doing hard Tuesday, Endurance Thursday, and long endurance Saturday rides. I ride the MTB on Saturdays, which is great for skills. However, my MTB rides don’t spend a lot of time in the endurance power zone. There’s more time in active recovery than endurance, and more time in all the higher zones, than in endurance. MTB is tricky because the terrain can change a lot.

After 12 years if you want to keep the MTB weekends that should be the one thing that should be locked in. Remember this should be fun… so keeping fun in the schedule should be the priority.

After that… how many weekdays do you plan to ride?
I would take Monday off after the long rides on the weekend. Other than that be sure to “start slow to go fast.” Maybe start with one or two intensity days. The rest should be chill as you adapt to the new stress.

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The mid volume Polarized Plan has me doing one VO2 Max workout and one Threshold workout a week. The rest are all endurance days. I’ll end up riding 3-4 easy endurance rides per week. With the days getting shorter and progressively colder, most likely the weekday rides will be on the trainer and the weekend rides outdoors on the MTB…weather dependent. One week in and I’m already loving it.