Help me become national XC MTB champion

Hi all,

Been reading this forum for years now, got a lot of knowledge from you guys already. Hopefully I can get some usefull help for my preparation for nationals XC MTB.

After a long period without racing (thanks covid), we had some racing again in the last couple of weeks. I had a good winter with a lot of hours and I build a big base (FTP: 400+, 78kg). Did a lot of hours in zone 2, did a FTP period and a VO2 max period. I expected I was going to be strong immediately. Sadly, this wasn’t the case. Finished second in the first race but it was a pretty big gap to first.
I really struggled with the very hard anaerobic efforts. Couldn’t recover fast enough from the hard starts and wasn’t able to do repeated anaerobic efforts proper.

It’s time to focus on my goal of this season.
I got 7 weeks until my A race: the national championships XC MTB.
Nationals is a course with short climbs (30-60 seconds), so its all about the repeated anaerobic efforts.

With all the time of the world for the upcoming weeks, I can train 20+ hours every week.
My plan is to do 2 very hard training rides a week, with anaerobic efforts such as; 30/30’s, 1 min and 2 min repeated efforts, race pace efforts and over/unders.
For the rest it will be zone 2 long endurance rides 2-3 a week and for the rest recovery rides.
From experience I know I need a 7-10 day taper max, so this gives me 6 weeks to train.

Will this be enough to improve on my weakness of this season? What is your opinion on my plan or do you have a suggestion for me?

Some information:
5 sec: 1500+ W
1 min: 850+ W
5 min: 500 W
20 min: 420+ W
78 kg

Thanks in advance!

US nationals were a couple weeks ago.

He doesn’t say US national champ, it can be somewhere else? British nationals were last weekend too.

Anyway, I do think this is a question / level of racing where it’s better to ask a coach, not a forum. Its possible to learn enough from here (and elsewhere) to coach yourself, but perhaps not within 7 weeks.


7 weeks out I would look at high volume XCO Specialty or Crit Specialty and see which plans/workouts best reflects your expected demands.

My advice is to get a coach. :smiley: Tim Swords once told me that one of the best skills a coach can have is recruiting…if you recruit talented athletes you’re going to be a ‘good coach’.

Trust me, @Jangle , there are going to be a lot of coaches interested in having you as a client.

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Indeed, it’s not US nationals :).

I had two coaches in the past but both didn´t turn out great. That´s when I started to coach myself (1.5yrs ago). I looked for different options since but the trust is gone. I don’t just want a coach, I want one I can trust and just know it will make me better.

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the biggest thing that stands out is you only talk about watts. Smooth is fast, how good are you in the dirt? There might be time to be made up there. Are you training with faster riders to see what lines they are taking?

High torque: will no doubt help you rip over anything rooted or not smooth, and burn less of a match. Meanwhile also allowing you to ride a lot of time in zone around FTP.

Race Sim the start:

Standing start at 0mph:

30 sec @ 180-210 % of FTP

3 min @ 106-120 % of FTP

8 min @ 98-105 % of FTP

15 min @ 88-94 % of FTP

I’d focus more on the over/unders you mentioned and a vo2 session before you start wacking the 30/30s and anaerobic efforts. Those will tune up super quickly, and you’re already really anaerobic based on those numbers…FRC prob 25+??

How did first place get away from you?

How similar is Nats course to that one?

How’s the fueling strategy?

You’re knocking on the door right there, stoked to see how you do, let us know!

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definitely do some intervals on the trail. In my experience, you have to go fast on the trail in training to go really fast on race day. When I do intervals on the trail, I try to aim for a feeling more than a power target.

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My technique could be better but it´s not the place where I lose a lot of time/energy.
The race sim seems like a nice training.

I’m pretty anaerobic, but I seem to struggle with the repeatability of it?
First place got away from me by hitting the climbs hard after the start loop, where I couldn’t recover fast enough.
Course is pretty similar, short punchy climbs with technical descents.

I like to do my intervals on off road climbs with some technical descending in my recovery.

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totally agree; HR really good too; power too stochastic

if you have a road bike, or just put slicks on, some more consistent power on the intervals could be advantageous. Much more consistent pedaling can simply be a benefit because you get a lot of microbreaks when you aren’t pedaling in MTB but you’d be used to pedaling for longer consistent durations from the road-based (uninterrupted) intervals. I don’t race MTB so this is just feedback I’ve received from athletes that do. More experienced MTBers here may want to comment on this thought.

the repeats; either you’re lacking watts and just producing too much lactate that you can’t clear (maybe you need more lactate clearance work…aka hard Over Unders, clearing at 80-90% FTP) or the other side of the equation is out of wack, you’re too anaerobic and therefore undergoing glycolysis sooner than if you were more aerobic.

hard to dial this in IMO with 9 weeks but your suggestion of O/U and a vo2 is a good starting point, then hit those repeated anaerobic efforts.

post the podium pic when you win!!!


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The vo2 max “float intervals” (like sassafrass) have helped me a TON with recovering quickly after a hard effort.

It sounds like you don’t need to be any more fit. If all your numbers are current, I don’t think you’ll have meaningfully large gains in any areas in 6 weeks.

What you shared is that your top competitor got away after the first lap. You might want to focus on strategy. Maybe be the one to attack early so this competitor cannot raise the pace and come around you. This will allow you to control the race early and hopefully bring it to a later point where their relative advantage is diminished.

Racing also is the best way to get race fitness. Jump in some minor races or find a way to actually simulate a race (maybe ride w a friend who is on your fitness level and tell them to attack you). Just riding hard on a trail solo won’t be the same - tho it’s better than nothing. Hitting a short track course would be what you want if short repeated efforts with low recovery is your weak spot.
Good luck