Is Mid-Volume CCM Specialty Phase enough for a +4 HR mtb race

This is my second winter using TR. For this year, I am wrapping up the low-volume SPB and going into mid-volume CCM Specialty Phase for a 45 mile/4-HR mtb race in mid-April. Are the 90-minute Saturday Specialty sessions enough for this long race? Coming from a road background, I expect to put in the full distance before any race. Are these shorter efforts enough, or do I need to supplement with some long rides?

Thanks in advance,

Yes, you are working physiologically systems, not specific event durations in TR. So if you can hold a higher percentages of you FTP for 90 mins, then for a longer event you will simply hold a lower percentage of your FTP. So raising FTP raises all percentages of FTP you will race at no matter the duration.

I trained all 2017 winter through 2018 XC Race season specializing for 90 min races. Then, a month out I signed up then completed a MTB 100. Fitness for the event was never an issue, it was all a mental challenge.

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Makes sense. Thanks! I’ll try it for this race and see what happens.

Pacing, eating, and drinking has been my mantra going into marathon xc races. Always have the fitness, but am stupid when it comes to pacing. Agree with @MI-XC. I do lots of pre-riding though - breakup the course into sections leading up to it.

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Yep! I worry about the time on trainer being mostly limited to 60-90 minutes when races are longer than that. But then I hear @chad saying not to worry about it. Trust the plan.

Now, if I can only get my legs to do as well with the 5+ miles / 10k run after the ride …

Take a read over at Training Mental Toughness

On the podcast they are always saying it’s a complete misconception to think that you need to include rides into your training that are similar to the duration of your race, specifically longer races like yours. They call out Nate’s performance at Ledville by saying he did great and achieved his goal. What they always seem to be implying when they say this, is that 1-2 hour workouts is enough to COMPLETE the race and I agree with this. However, I strongly believe it is not enough to WIN the race. I think they would agree with this. Unless of course, you have a history of doing races of this duration and are conditioned to the pain and the 1-2 hour TR workouts are enough to sustain what you have built. I would strongly encourage you to supplement with longer rides. There is no substitute for the impact those rides have on your body but I’m not a coach. Those long rides also raise other issues you will have to face during the race such as hydration and fuel. Iron those out before race day.


I’m glad you’ve written this. It drives me (slightly) mad every time I hear it on the podcast, to the point that I wrote a good rant about it. (I never did post it.)

There were a couple of weeks, probably not long after Nate had completed Leadville, where advice was given to listeners about doing longer rides outdoors that was along the lines of ‘don’t bother - just stay in and do a sweetspot workout’. I think he was a little blind to the fact that, although he had completed Leadville in a good time doing mainly sweet spot training, he could perhaps have done better if he had done longer rides in the run-up.

Let’s not forget that he was totally broken from the mid-way point (if memory serves) and it turned into a battle of survival.

Quite often it’s said that ‘marathon runners don’t run marathons all the time’. Well, we’re not marathon runners; we’re cyclists and the top riders are doing a lot of distance a lot of the time. Do you think the pros are turning up to Milan San Remo having only done 2 hours in the saddle all winter? Don’t kid yourself!

Don’t get me wrong - I’m not suggesting that you should be spending all of your waking hours on the bike - the reality is that that’s almost impossible for the vast majority of recreational cyclists but I think that time in the saddle is very important, not only for the training benefits that may not come from shorter ride on the trainer, but also to find things out about yourself and your preparation that you could never find out sitting on a trainer.

Here’s what I wrote in response to the dilemma of whether to stay in or go out…

People should get a grip and actually go and ride their bikes. I know it’s the winter in the northern hemisphere but if you can get out you should. Not every day: hit the trainer when it suites, or when you need to but come Saturday and the sun’s out (or, like here in Scotland, it’s just not totally grim) go and ride with your mates, see the country side and enjoy yourself rather than worrying about whether you should have stayed in to do your 5th or 6th 90 minute sweet spot session of the week.

Actually, you should go out when it is totally grim. You’ll learn a lot about riding your bike and even more about yourself. Come race day that may well be the difference between success and failure, whatever the bar is that you set yourself.

Years ago I remember being asked about why I went mountain biking in the rain and pitch black. The answer was simple: if you didn’t, you wouldn’t ride much living in Scotland.

Remember that training isn’t an end in itself.

When you’re doing a grim interval session and slump over the bars at the end, try to not lose focus on what you’re trying to achieve. I want to be a better and faster cyclist for my own enjoyment but if all I do is sit on the trainer what’s the point?

Look at riders like Mateau van der Poel and Nino Shurter. Yes, they’re super talented and may well be once in a generation riders but do you think they’re sitting indoors every day playing on Zwift? I doubt it. They’re having too much fun working hard at riding their bikes and getting faster.

Remember you’re a cyclist and riding a bike is what you do. There shouldn’t be a dilemma: Do it when you can.


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Great points. My races are about 90 minutes. One of my goals this year is to do 2 hour rides on dirt and then run 2-5 miles. On days of longer rides, no run follow-up. I get to missing the dirt – heck, even the road.

I think when the podcast guys talk about this they are talking to people worried about being able to complete an event - those who may be afraid to sign up for or commit to doing a century or whatever other distance milestone is scary to them. You’re absolutely right about the pointy end of events, but I don’t think those riders are the target of those comments.

This is an interesting point. They often bring up doing your easy rides outdoors to maintain skills (particularly suggested for mtb, but I think it applies for all disciplines). I think your point might be misaligned with what they mean by skills - the ability to fuel and deal with the body fatigue that comes from being outdoors for hours at a time is very much a skill in my opinion.

As someone who has spent a ton of the past few months stuck indoors (weather, work, life) I try to get outdoors whenever I can just so I remember how to turn my bike when I’m going fast and know how it feels to be pedaling (even easily) for 3-5 hours.

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Build a solid base then Quality over Quantity. I like 24 hour solo endurance races, do you think I go out and train and ride 24 hours a time because it mimics the actual race? Hell no… a 50 mile MTB ride is a easy Sunday cruise that is part of your base. Before a 24hr race the longest time I will spend in the saddle is for 100k to dial in nutrition and hydration plans then begin a taper a week out.

@Nate_Pearson was 100 percent correct in what he said…simply no reason for extra long extended training rides, the only benefit your going to get from it is mental, nothing physical, if anything you will be taxing your physical abilities instead of reaping maximum benefits from quality training.

Our Marathon season is a wrap down here and Spring State Championship XC season is 23 days away, I have rarely rode outside due to work constraints , started training OCT 6th and average around 100miles a trainer rides are 15 to 30 miles during the week. My plan is to use the races in place of hard training days and continue to train throughout XC race season leading up to the 24hr solo races.

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I don’t think anyone is suggesting that.


The TR plans are great especially if you are time crunched. But, I don’t think anyone should be devaluing long outdoor rides. Pretty soon I won’t be doing any of the Sat/Sun stuff as we have Saturday fast group rides that are basically mock races and Sundays are 4-6 hour group rides. Finding the balance between the two is great and should be encouraged IMO.

I have a 50 miler in early July I love to do and will hopefully this year crack the top 10 in the pro field. I’ve often neglected the weekly 4-5 hour tempo mtb rides in the past and this year I will squeeze them in between road racing. It’s mostly just getting used to your fuel, pacing, and skills.