How to structure long endurance rides over training plan (Leadville)

I’m training for leadville (first timer) and adding long endurance rides every weekend. For example, during my current block (I’m in base phase) I add 3, 3 1/2 then 4 hour Z2 rides every Sunday and then have a recovery week. I’m also doing two high-intensity days a week and following Master’s low-volume plans. I plan to progress this for the next 5 months, working up to at least 6-7 hour rides on Sundays, and maybe adding more hours on Saturday rides as well to get back-to-back long days. My question is whether I should continue building these endurance rides through specialty phase (i.e., the last couple months before the race)? My understanding was that in specialty phase you are “shedding fatigue” and lowering TSS, but if I keep building volume with longer and longer rides, my TSS would keep going up unless I decrease intensity. I know I have plenty of time before then, but am working on fleshing out my training plan. Thanks for any insights you may have!

You don’t really need to do 6/7 hour rides every week in preparation, I feel. Just a couple to test hydration/fueling and equipment/logistics should be enough. I personally think that building up to back-to-back 3-4 hours in the weekend is more valuable then a 6 plus 1 hr ride for instance. However, I’m not really that experienced in this specific structure. This also allows you to add some event-specific intensity tempo-intervals in one of the two weekend rides.

The combination with two high-intensity rides from a low volume masters plan and these longer weekend rides should be great. Just make sure you are well rested and fueled for the HIT-session.

Another note: you probably want to keep the long weekend ride even in your recovery weeks.

Shedding fatigue for one goal event should be possible in the last 7-14 days. And you’d still want a long endurance ride in this taper.

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First of all, congrats on getting in. Your general approach sounds really solid. The only thing I’d change is to include some sweet spot work on those long weekend rides. Leadville has a bunch of long climbs where you will be riding above Z2 and then back to Z2 on the flatter stuff. As far as the volume during specialty, I tend to keep my long weekend rides long until I’m a few weeks out. 3 weeks out, I’ll still do 6+ hours, 2 weeks I’ll make it more like 4, then I’m usually in leadville adjusting to altitude and doing 2-3 rides on the course.

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Thanks! That’s really helpful. Yes, at some point I may start alternating between doing pure zone 2 and more varied longer rides with higher efforts such as climbing. I’m also planning on doing the Bailey Hundo (65 miles, 7600 feet climbing) June 14th.

I agree that you probably don’t need to do a 7hour ride every single week. But I also think there are big fitness gains to be made on those longer rides. So as long as they don’t tank your fatigue or stress your life too much I would include them wherever it makes sense. There’s a balance to be struck between doing longer and longer rides but still keeping the rest of your ride volume up. So some weekends 2x4 hours might make more sense while other times a 2-3hour ride followed by a 6 hour ride might make more sense.

I’d also definitely do many of these rides on surfaces and terrain as close to Leadville as you can get. Again balancing fatigue (6 hour gravel rides are really tiring compared to road)

As for the recovery week thing, I’d probably avoid doing huge endurance rides on those weeks but I would do at least 3-4 hour rides just to keep the aerobic system going. Just keeping an eye on fatigue and such.

then for the taper/specialty. I’d keep those long rides going. Similar to something like a marathon plan. Maybe have your longest “race simulation” ride ~4 weeks out. Then keep doing more reasonable long rides till the end. I’ve found that I feel better on those longer, steadier races when I have a touch of fatigue still going vs being super super fresh.

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These are all super helpful responses. Thanks for the insights.

A little tangent, but certainly training related - The aerobic training for leadville is critical, but another big consideration for leadville is overall body/core strength. The first time I did the 100, I was getting so sloppy and tired on the last couple long descents that it was getting unsafe to keep the speed up. Maybe not an issue for you depending on your current riding, but long descents around here might last a minute. I was not ready for some of the chunky 10-20 minute stuff at leadville. None of it is really technical, but it’s fast and high consequence if you get sloppy and make a mistake. I did a bunch of core work heading into the race last season and felt 100% better on the descents.

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Yeah, good tip. I’m doing 2-3 strength and mobility workouts a week, including one that’s all core work. I will definitely keep it up and can already feel a difference in my power transfer/efficiency (never really knew what that meant before).