Limited time to squeeze in plan before MTB season

New user. Coming off a few months of MTB XC endurance racing, 50-60 mile races. I need to spend the summer getting dialed for a MTB XC short track( 1-1.5 hr ) races and some CX races. My racing starts mid September. I’d like to include some decent MTB rides on weekends to keep my skills honed. I have about 10+ hrs a week available to train. I’ve been trying to figure this out and not getting anywhere. I’m trying to figure out which plan to follow and what to trim off of what. Any suggestions and help greatly appreciated. Thanks!

hi. Seems like you have a decent level and base. So looking at the time frame I would consider skipping Base plan for now. Your season starts in September but I’m not sure where the A-race is or how the season lasts but take a look at General Build and any of the Short Track XCO, Olympic XCO or CX Specialty plans . They aren’t too far different. With this timing and if I was pretty fit I work backwards from Specialty ending at my A-race especially if I am trying to get some decent intensity for XCO.

I am similar to you in that I skip between XCO and XCM and have on average 10-13 hours a week. I use typically the mid volume plans, Tuesday Thursday hard sessions on the trainer for the core structure and get outside a fair bit. Depending on the weekend will depend on what I do outside. Now we have the ‘outside’ version of the workouts its great to add structure the outdoor longer weekend MTB rides and adding some harder efforts on some favourite bits of technical trails.

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If you’re used to longer efforts then I’d probably prioritize short power build then XCO speciality-plan. I’ve done General Build myself being an XCO/XCM-racer but I needed to focus on my sustained power but now for tapering I’ll be doing the XCO-speciality and I won’t be tapering for an XCO event rather a XCM one.


Thank you both for the thoughtful replies. One of the difficulties of my MTB XC season, is that they take the best 7 scores of 10 races, so except for a couple of races I may not attend, I treat them all as A races. The Florida state XC series runs from Sept 15 to Dec 10 or so. Skipping base sounds sensible since I do feel like I’ve got decent fitness right now, just not the high anaerobic fitness required for the shorter races. Another question, when you hit the “do outside” option, do you try to match the workout, or just the TSS? be kinda tough to do some of those on a MTB dependent on terrrain. Thanks again!

Outside MTB-workouts should focus primarily on developing your bike-handling and giving you very race specific training.

I do high intensity workouts on Saturdays primarily focusing on developing my technique and handling during fatigue. But I do check TSS and try to match or do a little more depending on what type of workout I should’ve done. Usually MTB-rides are extremely punchy in their nature so TSS accumulates fast.


I going to disagree with a few points made by others above. If you’ve just come off XCM season I assume you’ve trained hard and built a pretty high level of fitness, maybe peaked towards the end and possibly prioritized an XCM event or two. Looking at your schedule (Sept 15 - Dec 10), you have quite a bit of time before your next race even starts. It’s not realistic or sensible to try to hold onto any high end fitness now for races that are so far away. If you do, you’re likely to run into burnout towards the end of your XCO race season especially since you also want to do CX races as well. Your body and mind need a down turn before you ramp it back up to being race ready, unless you’re MVDP.

First, consider if you need a week or two of unstructured riding now. Your next race is 3+ months away so now is a good time to enjoy the bike without any specific training or race to be concerned about. From now to the end of your XCO race season you have about 26 weeks. That is almost enough time to get through a full Base - Build - Specialty periodization that is recommended by TR. This would be the ideal schedule as it would allow your body and mind to recharge during the Base phase.

I recommend you do all mid volume plans in the following order. Sweet Spot Base 1 & 2, Short Power Build then XCO Specialty. That equates to 28 weeks so I’d recommend cutting the first 2-3 weeks of SSB1. That is appropriate since you’re already bringing plenty of fitness into base training. With this progression it has you peaking at the end of your XCO season. If you’d rather peak mid XCO season and attempt to hold that peak for a couple weeks, then I’d cut some more time off of SSB1. You could adjust the recovery weeks in SSB1 & 2 to ensure they are more evenly spaced if you end up cutting more weeks from SSB1. This is easy to do with the TR calendar as you can copy, push, pull and cut weeks to fit your schedule.

You’ll be racing through your training so I’d look at the last week of XCO Specialty (taper week) as a guide on how you might taper before your races. Since you need 7 consistent races you’ll need to determine which of the 10 races suite your strengths better and try to prioritize those. You can’t be in peak performance for all 10 races and if you try to fit in a week taper for all 10 races your fitness will likely stagnate or possibility decline a bit. So use your fatigue as a guide and adjust workouts according through race season. Some races you may only taper a few days while others you take the whole week. Again, use the TR calendar and move workouts around or exchange them for shorter versions before a race.

I’d ensure that you’re doing the midweek intervals inside on the trainer. You’ll likely see your biggest gains from those. For the weekend generally Saturday’s workout is more structured and Sundays is a longer endurance ride. You won’t be able to replicate this on the trail, so I’d recommend looking at the “spirit” or intention of the workout and try to mimic that coupled with the approximate TSS value. Basically if the Saturday workout calls for going hard for 10 mins with 8 min recovery valleys, then that’s about all the specificity that is needed. Sunday’s workout has various longer and less intense variants, so you have options. I’d just try to make sure you’re not killing yourself on the trail during the weekends to the point where it affects the quality of the following weeks intervals.


Thank you so much for this detailed response, in fact I had something in my mind like this, I just couldn’t put it together. I’ve loaded it in like you laid out and it looks like it will work perfectly. The other burning question I had was how to taper during racing season, and moving and utilizing the taper week during specialty phase should work perfectly. In fact the way it is laid out is very similar to the way a professional MTB coach had laid out my training a few years back.

I wasn’t doing any structured training during the XCM series, hard group road rides during the week , with MTB endurance and race simulations on the weekends. Still was enough to get me consistent podiums but as I get older the shorter, hard efforts are more difficult, and I’d like to make a solid run at the fall XCO series with good fitness. (But maybe not quite a 50 year old MVDP )

So hopefully, less training time during the week by skipping all the long group rides (although the tss is similar to the TR workouts that coincide with them) and do weekend MTB rides in the “spirit” of the TR workout with some endurance miles afterwards should work out well for me.

Thanks again for your time and thoughtful response.

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Exactly what @MI-XC said for the outside rides. Thats how I handle it too… On a varied trail it is difficult to even see power numbers so take the spirit of the workout and focus on your skills at high speed and effort especially when you’re hanging out on the last few…


Well said… that type of reply right there is why I hang around here!