First gravel race this weekend - how should I ride this week

have my first ever gravel race this weekend - 100k, 70.8 miles with a mild 2500ft elevation- 6.5% grade.

I’ve been doing low volume plan since January- riding F-Su. Getting in occasional rides throughout the week when work allows. I also strength train 2-3 times a week followed by a high intensity metcon.

My TSS since last rest week has steadily climbed 400-700 and fatigue score hit an all time high yesterday at 125. Feeling it- I’ve also got some thyroid complications post partial thyroidectomy and big dose increase this past week. Working with a nutrition only coach who has my nutrition dialed in and adjusted accordingly.

I’ve done a 35 mile MTB Borah epic last year and took 5th in my class. I’ve ridden a few centuries on road few years ago. My longest gravel ride is 50miles - last year.

Trainer road has nothing on my calendar this week now till Sunday. Race is Saturday. I don’t agree with this and am looking for suggestions on what to do for riding and strength this week leading up to this event. This is my learning event as my A event is in August.

Thankful for any help in advance!


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Hmm, so if I’m understanding correctly you are doing LV but you’ve stacked the 3 workouts back to back on Fri-Sat-Sun? If that’s the case, then that’s why TR hasn’t given you any rides. When you have an event it will take your scheduled training days and adjust for the race. But because your days are all right by the race it has you taking a rest the day before (Fri), no workout on race day, and then a rest the day after.

If this were me, I would probably do something like below (without knowing your typical work or strength schedule so feel free to adjust).

Monday - Strength (as normal or scaled back if feeling fatigued)
Tuesday - Moderate ride (SS, SS burst, something like that)
Wednesday - Strength (scaled back a bit)
Thursday - Endurance or tempo ride, maybe a jump or two
Friday - easy ride, maybe a couple short efforts to wake up the legs if you think you need it
Saturday - race
Sunday - Really take this by feel. If really tired do like 1.5hr endurance or something. If feeling better then maybe do something up to SS or so.

But with you recently hitting your heights ‘fatigue score’, definitely feel free to scale this back depending on your fatigue levels.


How have you progressed since starting trainer road? I’m only about a month in but am a bit conflicted over my prescribed trainer road TSS, would love to add in a bunch of outdoor miles but unsure if that would be hurting the quality of my structured workouts. In the past I was doing some weeks of >700 TSS (HR based rather than wattage based) but coming into my A race mid summer Trainer Road has suggested TSS of 173 2 weeks out, 153 the week of. I guess I should trust the process but when I look at what others are doing who have improved quickly or have always been faster than me, they are doing like triple my mileage on the bike.

If you have the available time I would definitely add in some outdoor endurance miles. It may require you to replace one of your schedule TR workouts for it but I think it’s worth it. You just have to keep an eye on your recovery and make sure you aren’t doing too much. TR is great for those that are time constrained but if you have the available time then I think the longer endurance rides (especially in combination with structured intervals) are invaluable.

Don’t forget that a planned, outdoor endurance ride IS a structured workout as a part of a structured plan! As long as you are intentional about it then it should be able to fit into your plan. When it becomes unstructured is when you go out, noodle along, hit a climb hard, noodle at a kinda hard pace, coast down a hill, hit a KOM, noodle, etc. You didn’t do anything particularly hard but you also weren’t doing a consistent endurance. But on an endurance ride, just because you aren’t doing 10min on 10 min off doesn’t mean that the ride isn’t structured.

Also, don’t forget that TR plans are meant to be used as a template. There are a good template but they don’t know if you are time constrained to the 4 hr/week or if you have more time on the weekends. But IMO, cycling is an aerobic sport and (to a point) more endurance riding is never a bad thing and should never be avoided

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Yes! I love this- this makes complete sense and is absolutely workable. Thank you!

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I had a 10% ftp improvement the first ramp test after starting the program. After that my ftp improvement has been 4-5% each time. I also do hiking and outdoor rides when I can work it in to keep moving. Trust the process allow the adaptations! I’m happy with my progress.

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If you want to optimize performance at the race, listen to your body (and your TSS number) and take it easy this week. That doesn’t mean you can’t ride at all, but limit it to a couple short rides with a little intensity mixed it. My suggestion would be to do a wednesday and friday ride, both under 30 minutes. Mix in ~10 minutes of some intensity like sprints, v02, threshold. This is enough to keep the motor primed, but doesn’t create any significant training load.

Thank you. I do like that suggestion though with the exception of a mechanical I’ve never done a 30 min ride! I really like this suggestion.

Yeah, don’t even think of it as a ride, it’s really just a couple teaser sessions. Just enough to get the legs spinning, do a little intensity, then cool down. When I’m fit and tapering for a race, my favorite thing is to jump in a couple zwift races and bail after mixing it up for 20 minutes. 10 minutes is just a guideline, do enough intensity to get lathered up and feeling strong, but shut it down as you feeling your strongest before any fatigue creeps in. It’s hard to shut things down just as you are getting into it and feeling strong, but that’s part of the mental game leading into the race. You want to feel like a caged animal rolling into race day. Banging against the rev limiter. All that good stuff. Not tired…

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