Cram for endurance? A fat, slow man needs help and quick

My friends and I signed up for the 141 mile SBT gravel race in Steamboat Colorado in 1 month. We signed up many months ago, and I had the best intentions of training into peak fitness. However, life happened in the form of a badly broken ankle about 3 months ago, and serious family problems (everyone is happy and healthy now!) for the last month that have totally prevented any type of training.

So, I had a solid base (SSB1) going into the ankle break, and I’ve had 1-2 rides a week since then (roughly 4 hours per week). In the past I’ve found that a mid-volume is maintainable for me, and I can peak up to large volume for a week or two at most before I get injured or worn out.

I have zero experience at elevation and live and ride around 1-2k feet. The race is around 7k feet.

I also have one week (starting this Thursday) where I’ll be taking care of my 7 children alone (my wife is traveling to England!). The plan there is to set the trainer up in the living room and train after their bed time or before they wake up. I should be able to get 1-2 hours per day in there.

So… should I focus on losing weight (I can stand to lose weight and it would absolutely help – I’m 88kg and at my ironman weight I was 69kg. I’m health around 75-80 kg (I’ve spent a significant amount of time at the gym and have definitely gained muscle and not just fat, so unsure of my “low” weight now)), or just tons of base miles and as many long rides as I can get in? I honestly feel like there IS a pace at which I can do the ride right now, but I’ll be out there for 12ish+ hours and I’d like to reduce that if at all possible.

Thoughts? Solutions? Prayers?! Any help appreciated.

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Coming off an injury, trying to cram fitness, lose weight, and dealing with 7 kids for a week sounds like a perfect way to dig yourself into a hole and start the race worse off than you are now.

I’d just do some sweet spot work, and watch your calories. If you can handle the additional stress, I think fasted sweet spot rides are gonna be your best bet, just pay attention to your overall stress levels, and make sure you’re not overdoing it.

Also, remember to have fun!


With 26days, 22hours, 46mins and 41secs until your event (just checked it out :), it should be awesome!), I would focus exclusively on sweet spot work and endurance:

SS is the best training bang for your buck. It’s what racers load up on early in a training season before they move on to higher intensity with specificity (see Allen/Coggan/McGregor Training and Racing with a Power Meter). And the approach I would take is progressive intervals - steadily increasing your aggregate Time in Zone (TIZ) from workout to workout. While your FTP will naturally rise, the big benefit from this approach will be to improve (allow you to regain) your fatigue resistance - the key requirement for this event. [See Tim Cusick’s WKO4 webinar on fatigue resistance for a deeper understanding].

The purpose of the endurance workouts is 2-fold:

  1. You can’t go hard every session (i.e. SS workouts); you need some recovery
  2. Improve your fat-burning capabilities for such a long event (in-event food consumption won’t be sufficient)

As for altitude, given that you are not going to have a long a acclimation period prior to the event, you should assume a 5-10% hit to your power (for pacing purposes).

Honestly, I’d try and swap to the blue/100mile distance if possible. While you could certainly suffer through the 141, I don’t think you’ll be able to enjoy the event as much and it’s probably more motivating to have a better time at the 100.

Just my $0.02 given all the extenuating factors.


Your advice, while almost certainly sound and very good, is not going to happen.

All my friends are riding the black route and while I am nowhere near peak fitness I’m not coming off the couch either. 141 is gonna hurt, but its gonna hurt because I’m finishing that bad boy if I have to crawl it. I may completely agree with you after the fact, but come hell or high water I’m finishing that black course.

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“Cram” and “endurance”, two words that shouldn’t be in the same sentence.

As others have said, endurance sessions and sweet spot, but build it up slowly. Good luck.

I find if I do a lot of endurance or threshold work, it takes 3-4 weeks before I really see the best improvement from that work.

I find that if I want VO2max improvement…it takes about 2.5weeks to see the best improvement from that work.

So, good news, you could spend a TON of time this week working on threshold and endurance type stuff. Really pile on the TSS. You should see the best results from that work just about race day. Sometime mid next week add a couple VO2 max workouts. You should see the maximum benefit from that work right about race day.

In short, pile on the TSS at endurance and sweetspot right away. After that training volume should be a continuous downward slope to race day. Throw in some VO2max work the week after your big TSS week. Then recover, recover, recover.

On race day your pacing needs to be really disciplined and really conservative. Bring something that takes really good pictures. Try to get the story of every rider you meet. There are many ways to achieve success in cycling. :wink:


Update: I’ve lost 0 lbs, as expected. I’ve piled on the TSS for the first two weeks, and now we’re 2 weeks out. I plan on doing a very long (7 hour) ride this wednesday – less as training and more as a race simulation to double check my equipment and ensure I can sit in the saddle that long. I am planning a painfully slow pace again to test my pacing out for Colorado. If I can make it through 7 hours on Wednesday then I’ll have a lot more confidence going into what is likely a 10-11 hour day in Colorado. I’m thinking my success or failure now lies in nutrition and pacing more than anything else (that and getting a “taper” in, and by that I mean recovering from the TSS I spiked into the last 2 weeks and this week I’m going into).

I’ll keep everyone posted about my suicide mission!


Finished 11:36 if you count aid stations - 11 right on the nose otherwise. I was in a hurt locker. I deeply spelunked the pain cave. 10/10 do not recommend a 141 mile ride at elevation on gravel with little training.

Was only able to finish due to excellent pacing. I spent 0.36% of the ride above threshold. Though I did set a 5 second power PR near the end which is nice.


well done for completion! Next year, you’ll smash it! :wink:

Thanks, I’m happy I could finish!
Next year is the Stelvio. SBT is probably a one and done for me.

Nice work. Yeesh 11 hrs seems…long. Not to say slow…just man, thats too much racing in one day for me lol.

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