Big effort 4 weeks before A race (MTB ultra)

I have my big A race of the year coming up in September (100 mi Marji Gesick MTB ultra). 4 weeks before that race, teammates and I have a 100mi point to point MTB ride along the North Country Trail in Michigan. It’s a beautiful ride, one of the summer highlights.

Now that I’m carrying some more intentionality into my training (this is my first season fully structured), I’m wondering if I’m at risk of “messing up” my speciality phase and adding a big dose of fatigue 4 weeks before Marji. I’d like to come in as fresh as possible, but also don’t want to overthink this and get all worked up about something that could just have a negligible impact.

Anyone have experience or thoughts on this? Looking to get out of my own head.

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Four weeks is a long time to recover, plus the final four weeks is just sharpening you up for the big event. Treat your big effort like a workout and enjoy it. Part of why we ride bikes is because it’s fun.


Yes. I just did a massive 1d Race. I did my last long and hard ride 10 days before. And rode 4 hours between that effort and the race. CTL was 80 at start of taper.

The 4 hours I did were basically 3 super easy rides with almost no intensity. The key is achieve freshness, don’t worry about being too fresh.

My condition at the time of the race was PERFECT.

@JT_34 @oldandfast thanks both! Think I was just getting in my head with this one. Appreciate the nudge to a more balanced perspective.

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What they said. 4 weeks is plenty of time to recover and taper. Enjoy the big ride. If you need an extra day or two to recover after the big ride, take them (either off, or dialed way back).

It depends what your fitness is like. Four weeks should be well enough ro recover, and it might even be good to get a little endurance boost. But if your fitness isn’t up for the 100 mile ride, or if you go way too hard, you can also put yourself into a hole that can take weeks to get out of, and lose a lot of fitness. I’d say that if that rides feels like its in the ball park of your normal training, you shouldn’t have any problems. But if you usually only do 5h per week and 20 miles max, you might get into trouble.

You’re welcome. It’s easy to forget to just enjoy it when you have a computer driven plan, telling you to do workouts, a podcast saying structure is what’s best for improvement, etc. A fun ride like that and you’ll be fine. Now if you said you just wanted to ride for fun the last 4 weeks prior to an A race, that would be a bit different.

I’ve had good results doing really big/hard blocks a month out from big endurance events. A month before Unbound this year, I was scheduled for a rest week and swapped in a 22 hour 1000+ TSS week that put me in a nice little hole. It was a bit of an experiment, wasn’t sure how it would turn out. The next week was a super easy rest week and then 3 easy-ish taper weeks into the event. My legs at Unbound were so good that I felt like I left a lot on the table. As long as you have time to absorb it and you aren’t already buried, I think it’s a good approach for endurance events. I’m just wrapping up my last big volume block for leadville tomorrow, should be around 950 tss for the week and a 6 week average of ~800 tss. Then a month to absorb and tune. I’ll still get some long and hard rides in between now and leadville, but not as long as what I’ve been doing.

I generally plan a massive week, about 4-6 weeks out from my goal ultra events. Follow it up with a week of recovery, then hold volume and intensity steady from right before the massive week until two weeks out and start my taper. this has worked great for me.

:weary: Enjoy that, should be a “fun” day.

I agree with all the other posters. I have tried to actually schedule a big day or three a month out from my A-Races the last two summers. I find it actually gives me a boost in fitness (and I believe 4-6 weeks is about the length of time to see the benefits of such an aerobic effort).

Good luck today. Stick to the plan and keep moving

Good luck OP, sounds like this weekend is your race!

For anyone else coming across this thread I’d echo what others have said but also want to add that there’s a significant level of individual variance in recovery times. 4 weeks should be plenty for most people to recover from pretty much any 1 day ride, but once you get into the 1-3 week range I think a lot depends especially on average riding volume / CTL at the time and age. I notice a big difference in the back half of my 30s compared to the front half!