Help building plan for low ftp sprinter type racing XC

I know theres a lot of info out there on building plans but was hoping for some insights on where to start (base or build).

Im 46, raced bmx from 7-25, MTB XC from 14-19, and a few years mid 30’s. Then enduro from 37- current. 2 years ago had a crash on the bmx bike and broke C2, resulting in fusion from C1-3, so Im switching from enduro over to XC (race enduro for fun, but have to keep risks to minimum). Currently racing cat1 and about 10min off podium pace on a 2hr XC race in age group cat1.

About 18 months ago got a coach and did Inscyd. my 20 sec avg was 1200watts w/ no training (VLAmax was really high). He got my ftp up to 290, but got sick and its dropped off.

Ok, so background is that. Currently FTP is AI detected at 262 and Im 183lbs (not much fat to drop).

Im having trouble getting past 3.2w/kg and depending on anaerobic power and handling skills alot during races (and tons of carbs).

Would really like to see 4+ watts/kg but not sure its in the genes. Can anybody shed some light on where to start to move the needle (base phase or straight to build)?

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What have your last year and particularly last few months looked like from a training perspective? Is there an event you’re targeting? I think knowing what you have in your legs now and when/where you’re headed is important for a good answer to this question.

7-10hrs a week, smart trainer during week; intervals or Z1 90mins, mtb weekends trying to chase a friend on 3-4hr rides - whose at 5.5w/kg (he’s Z2 and I’m definitely not).

Last year was nuts. Layoff, new job, loss of family… stressfull one might say.

Started new job and been consistently inconsistent.

Want to get within striking distance of a podium on a hilly course. i have races on the horizon but not expecting to make big gains before fall or even next year.

You’re certainly have more experience than me, so take this suggestion in that context. As I think I through the questions I would ask are:

  1. Where is my aerobic engine compared to my potential? (Am I already hitting diminishing returns within the constraints of what I can offer to my training?)

  2. With the time I have, would I benefit more from further aerobic development to support top end work in the future or top end work now? (With the time I have left are there diminishing returns from what base training can offer me?)

If you’ve been doing 7-10hrs a week for months and feel strong at the end of hard rides, maybe it is time for build. If you have 4-6 months and the last year has been consistently inconsistent, building consistency in training, aerobic ability and perhaps strength would probably give you a better “base” to build on.

You have an extensive racing history, so you probably know where you stand relative to your potential better than anyone on the forum. I have a friend who insists his legs don’t have anything until he’s been putting in 14+ hour weeks for quite some time. I also know people where consistently doing 5 hours a week would have them in the best aerobic shape they’ve ever been in.

Again - I have no where near your level of experience, but this is how I would approach your question