How running fitness translates to cycling FTP and fitness. N=1 case study


So given Nate’s Leadville adventure last summer, it Inspired me to put an all our effort into getting into the race. Only trouble was I also had a goal of qualifying for Boston, and was planning on using the cowtown marathon to attempt entry. I started my running plan about 21 weeks ago… roughly the same time my new 2018 specialized epic expert was stolen while on vacation in niagra falls CAnada. I have done essentially zero biking since then. Riding with my 4 year old for 5-10 miles every once in a while, but nothing more then 50watts most likely. I left off with a roughly 302watt ftp, 4.0w/kg.

My running regiment is from a jack Daniels vdoto2 plan. 5 days a week, 45-50 miles/week. Typically one day of vo2 max work, one long run day, and 3 easy days. My target marathon time is 2:50, although I’m three weeks from the race and it seems really fast so mentally I’ve resigned myself to a 2:55 (still a BQ though, which is the goal). I did a 1:23:12 half marathon in early November for fun as a gauge of fitness.

So how does all this relate to leadville? Well I got a new 2019 sworks epic FS before Christmas, and signed up for the Leadville lottery. Didn’t get in. :cry:. So I need to qualify at hopefully the austin rattler. That gives me from February 24th until April 13th to have an epic level of bike fitness, because qualifying in the M35-39 AG is hard (impossible?).

So the study begins with an FTP test as soon as the marathon is over. But being here in Dallas, our mountain bike trails have been closed for flooding for 5 months, most opening for the first time in the last two weeks. I simply had to give the new bike a test, so I have ridden 25 miles off road in 6 months, and my road bike tires are flat because I haven’t touch it since early sept.

Is it possible to qualify for Leadville at austin with only 2 months of cycling? I consider myself a skilled bike handler, and feel my aerobic engine is strong doing 6-7 hours of running a week. What should I expect my FTP to be at 6 months off the bike with only running? And how quickly do you think it will improve? Take your bets now :joy:. I’ve placed my season on doing Leadville and it would be disappointing if I don’t get in :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


I might have a little bit of perspective to add… I had a ramp test result in June of last year of 300 W even (at 77 kg), and then spent the entire 2nd half of 2018 running, with something like 200 miles on the bike total over 6 months (compared with > 2000 miles for the first half of 2018). I’m not as high a mileage runner as you, more like ~30-35 miles a week, targeting 5Ks (PRd in November at a turkey trot 5k with a 19:15). 3 weeks ago for fun did a ramp test and got 256 W.


Have you continued the bike work to see how quickly you can return to ~300w?

I spent 18 months pretty much off the bike running (30-50 mils per week). When I got back on the bike I was 60w below my previous best, however after 4 weeks of random workouts and 6 weeks of SSB1 I’m back within 10w of my previous best.


It’s only been a couple weeks back on the bike but already I can tell my FTP should be bumped up. My guess is with structured training it’ll come back quickly.


What was your peak ftp, and what did it fall to?

Cowtown is a rough Marathon to shoot for a BQ brother!! The RNR New Orleans is flat and FAST, loved running there and its a great place to attempt a BQ. Our local Leadville Qualifier has changed locations to Reveille Peak.

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Yeah I did the cowtown last year, and wanted to do Dallas which is flatter but it conflicted with a industry convention I have to attend. So cowtown again this year is what works our well for me (and I practice on similar hills around my house that compare with the course)

And yeah, I know it moved to reveille ranch. I’m already registered for the race and will make it down there to do a practice day once they have the course set!

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I think a lot of the cardio and base fitness will transfer over very well, what you’ll be having to work on are the bike-specific muscles. If you recover well from the marathon and are able to start training quickly, I feel there’s a good chance you can put down a qualifying effort come race day, especially if you’re already a strong bike handler. Get on the trainer and smash out those watts!

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It’s very difficult to qualify in the AG, but generally the end of event slot giveaways have really good odds. So even if you don’t place well in your AG, you’ll have a really good chance at getting a slot anyway.

I got mine after Tahoe in 2016 and about half of the people hanging around at the end of the event got slots.

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280w fell to 220w. (70kg)

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ok, I finished my marathon in 2:55 and accomplished the goal of a BQ! im currently recovering, and will be doing my FTP test this week. likely Thursday or Friday.


OK! so finished the marathon on Sunday, took me till Wednesday to not feel any pain in my legs, and had Time tonight to do the ramp test finally. Im pretty happy with the results as a good starting point to build from. I hit 291w, and nearly ate my dinner for a second time, so I know I laid it all out there.

Ive got until April to get that FTP up to a competitive level. im currently 167lbs, so im sitting at 3.84 w/kg. my peak was 4.0 last summer doing mostly unstructured mountain biking outdoors with the occasional TR trainer ride indoors.

my Log of biking since September. Most of these rides were with my 4 year old daughter…(i.e. super slow) 1 commute to work when my car wouldn’t start, and two easy rides in the last two weeks because my IT band/knee was giving me issues before the marathon.

my run log is obviously a lot longer, hitting 40-50 miles a week almost every week since September. December was the only exception to that.

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Well more to add how this has planned out the last 6 weeks.

I followed the SSB1 mid volume relatively close. I changed out prolly 25% of the workouts with outdoor rides on the mountain bike, and I did around 2 runs a week at 45-60min very easy pace. The austin rattler was the weekend before SSB1s finally week of recovery, but I felt mid volume wasn’t all that difficult. The race itself went very well as I successfully qualified in AG for the leadville 100MTB. Wuhu! I finished 3rd/52 in AG and 23rd/265 overall.

Because the rattler kinda messed by schedule up, instead of taking an entire week of recovery after the race I decided to just start SSB2 yesterday with a new FTP test. While My dinner didn’t entirely agree with me on the bike, the results were good. I now have a new personal best of 312watts. So in 5-6 weeks I improved 21W. I still feel I have quite a bit more room to go though and my leg strength is still lacking. (It was apparent at the rattler on lap two going up the hills). My power to weight is roughly 4.11w/kg now, and would be sweet if I could get to 4.25w/kg by Leadville.

I’ll report again after SSB2 in 6 weeks!


How did Leadville go, and what was your qualifying time at the Austin Rattler? Just looking into doing the Austin Rattler in April 2021 and hopefully doing Leadville in August 2021.

Went well! Finished in 8:33. Had no problems to speak of. One thing I could have improved a bunch was my pace up Columbine. I went pretty slow, lost I think 20 minutes or so compared to people I started the hill with.

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Nice, that’s awesome to hear. Congrats! I’m shooting for under 5 hrs at the Austin Rattler (hopefully closer to 4:35/4:40). I’d like to go sub-9 and after seeing how training goes, maybe even try to get close to 8 hours at Leadville. I’m at about 4.6 w/kg at sea level, but haven’t mountain biked since I was a kid.