Any mtb ultraendurance riders here happy to share training advice?

Hi folks

I’m new to everything this week…

New to trainerroad
New to power
New to erg mode and the Wahoo I now have sat in the porch
New to structured training
New to ramp tests (no the first one didnt go well and yes I definitely need a fan :rofl: )

Specific questions at the bottom of this post for those who dont want to read the memememe bit :wink:

I’m hoping to find the time again, and my legs, again, to do a lot more endurance mountainbike work. 24 hr races, 200 km+ ITTs, plus probably slot some road bike randonees etc. The racing goal is actually a mental one for me rather than physical. Ive raced a little in my time but always psychologically stuggled with it. Now I feel I’m stronger mentally and happy to have a go and be a bit rubbish. In some ways, the more rubbish I am, the greater the mental training effect will be. Then the ITTs and randonees will be for me…to get to that delirious point where everything is heightened. The blue sea turns to sapphire, the green grass to emerald and suddenly, finally, absolutely nothing but that moment exists.


I’m currently at the point of having neither the speed (which I have never possessed) or the endurance (which I have had a long time ago) and am very excited to see if structured training will help my old legs find them again.

I do have a lot of experience at longer distance work but my training only ever involved riding audaxes as often as possible and regularly blowing up and being overtrained/sick. I was severly anemic at the time and it wasnt identified for years. But what I did have back then (8+ years ago) was time…and stubborness.

Now I have very little time. AND I’m a bit soft and scared of the pain and suffering I know is coming.

I have a short 8 hr race tomorrow. It’s B race, just to remind me what it’s all about.

So questions (I’ve spoken to support who have been absolutely brilliant in getting me set up, but I’m just interested in what others do as there is no specific 24 hr mtb plans here)

Those who do long mtb races/24hr stuff

  1. do you use an opener the day before?
  2. what kind of volume plan do you follow
  3. have things changed as youve gotten older (I’m now 45 and haven’t been consistent for at least 5 years)
  4. how much unstructured training do you do

I’d love to hear any stories/experiences

1 Like

I’m 46 too. Started structured training at the beginning of 2022, and my volume peaked with a couple weeks near 18 hours this summer. I’m back down in the 10 hour range now. FTP peaked pretty close to 4W/Kg, although it’s probably backed off a little right now.

I do a quick / short opener the day before. More get the legs moving. I don’t think they’re all that important for long events. It’s more important to me to be fresh and rested.

On trainerroad, I am a big fan of Low Volume, Gran Fondo for the same events you’re doing. Add in Endurance Volume as you have time.

You should be able to get consistency and volume back if your schedule allows and you want to. Sleep and proper nutrition is a lot more important for me now than 10 years ago.

Unstructured Training depends on the time of the year. Right now, I’m doing more maintenance Sweet Spot and Endurance work, and riding for fun whenever I want. Once I get into the winter though and outdoor riding mostly ends here, and through my goal event next August, pretty much EVERYTHING will be structured. That will generally mean every ride has a purpose - no blowing myself up chasing KOM’s for the hell of it. I’ll still do long outdoor rides and trail rides, I’ll just have specific ride goals in mind and a lot of time it means taking it easy so I’m fresh for my trainer workouts.

1 Like

I’ll preface my response with the qualifier that I’ve gotten way into the Ultra/Bikepack Racing scene as of last year and have pulled out a win, a 3rd, and a 4th at the three of the races I’ve lined up at this year, each of which were 250 miles or longer… These efforts are a bit longer than the 24hr format you mentioned, as these have ranged from 36-52 hours.

  1. I can tell you that I definitely don’t do openers before any event longer than about 6 hours… It’s simply not relevant to these type of efforts.
  2. I’ve never used a full TR Training Plan, but have used TrainerRoad for over 10 years now, and have always built my own plans. They are somewhat “Polarized”, and typically average 10 hours per week. I honestly train a pretty standard mix of the energy systems/zones. I don’t buy into the typical low intensity high volume concept that most Ultra racers use. I do a lot of Threshold and VO2 work on my interval days, and make them count. You can absolute do well in ultra distance efforts, even with only indoor rides of shorter length. I won a 370 mile race in March, straight after over 100 consecutive indoor rides, with the longest being 5 hours, and a single 8 mile outdoor ride leading up to it, to make sure the wheels didn’t fall off the new bike. Outside of a race, I’ve done one ride over 100 miles this year, and have been more than confident rolling out to tackle 250 miles straight through.
  3. I’m 40, and as strong as I’ve ever been, per my feel on the bike, and per FTP(sea level ~4.8w/kg). I lack a bit of the “snap” I had six or seven years ago, but thats to be expected, and also I don’t focus on it.
  4. It depends on what you deem unstructured. I only do intervals or really focused hard efforts two, occasionally three, times per week. That doesn’t mean the other five days are unstructured in my eyes, it means that the structure is for them to be low intensity. I stick to that pretty well, with some attention paid to keeping them below FTP at all times, and check in on my heart rate if it feels “different” than what my legs are telling me.

My advice is to just get started again… Put in the time and work you can handle, and don’t overthink the training aspect of it too much. I take confidence from the way I train, but it might not work for someone else who needs to do that 8 hour ride every Sunday.


Thank you both for your replies, much appreciated.

Happy to see maximum time on the bike doesnt have to be huge, I can normally fit 10 hours a week in, more if it isnt intense. It seems, even being out or practice I still have no problem ‘keeping going’ as I remembered racing yesterday. My strongest point is being able to stay on the bike way more than the competition, even though they are often much faster. However, I do need to be quicker myself to make a mark, much quicker. It was quite soul destroying seeing the speed people set off at, and, for some of them, hold, for the whole 8 hours. I admit I am definitely afraid of the pain at the moment so rode super conservatively for most of the race. On the last lap though I passed a girl at the aid station and figured it may put me up a place if I could hold that, and suddenly realised I had plenty of legs left. Its all a mental game, in the end. Honestly thought Id be near the bottom of the list but got first in FV40, second overall female and 28th out of 65 solo finishers. It was a small field, but a small field of top quality experienced racers. Most people seem to be coming out of a summer of hard work, and everyone there seemed to be sponsered by someone! If I can just get my working diesel speed up by a bit, I think I may be able to challenge the pointier end. The lady that won the overall did an additional lap on mine. That is an awful lot faster.

I did so a short opener the day before (Truli) despite being uncertain as to whether it was the right thing for me. I just thought if I’m paying for trainerroad I need to trust the process. I am so glad I did, it really helped get me in a better place mentally and spin out some very sore legs. I’ve never really heard of training the day before a race so I’ve already learnt something new.

I’m minded to maybe drop to a low intensity plan and then keep my two outdoor workouts as unstructured. I have a hard ride Wednesday evening with a friend that usually kills me (she is much younger ha) and it helps keep my technical skills up to scratch. Then a ride with mates at the weekend. Otherwise I will be swapping these workouts out with the structured stuff. Or doubling up and doing the structure beforehand, or on the ride. Who knows, I
I think you are right and I should just get started and modify as I go, any kind of structure will be better than what I have now!

You guys both have massive ftps by the way. Very intimidating how fit everyone is on here!

1 Like

Rides like this you need to be careful of. They will basically have to take the place of one of your other structured hard workouts, and usually don’t deliver the same value and will come at an even greater fatigue cost.

Do it if it’s fun for you, but you can’t just consider it another unstructured volume ride in addition to your harder workouts.

Ah yes, this is my concern. However i do get considerable technical benefits from these wednesday rides. The mtbking we do here is really technical and it gives me an advantage on the mtb endurance racing because I am able to carry a lot more speed descending and rarely need to waste mental energy on it. I can just get on with it. I am always amazed how many folk struggle on the descents. It must be awful if you are scared initially knowing its only going to get harder as you get exhausted later.

So I think, some weeks, I’ll swap out a structured workout. Much of my current plan appears to have a workout repeated on a Wednesday and Thursday. I could loose one of those. It is still a concern though. I’m literally my first week into trainerroad and I’m already swapping workouts all over the place. :woman_facepalming:

Thanks for your input.