Masters Plans, Mountain Biking and Balance

I am rejoining Trainerroad after a long lay off from structured training. I have been mainly Trail/Enduro Mountain Biking (main interest) and in the autumn winter supplementing with some gravel riding.

There have been some obvious changes including the masters plan which I think I probably needed previously. My previous experience was struggling to balance plans with getting out on the trails, resulting in multiple bouts of overtraining and little gain.

So with winter in full tilt in Scotland I thought it would be a good time to get back onto the turbo and learn from previous experience.

So my question…

If I find a gap in the weather to get out Mountain Biking should I let it replace an intensity session in my plan? My local winter rides tend to be 5-10min climbs with descents , then back to the top til I gets to cold/miserable. Approx 2-3hrs with stops.

Fellow mountain biker here. I want to premise this with a disclaimer that this not the right thing to do in terms of “structured training” but if the weather is good, I am outside on the MTB. I will simply move the workout to another day. But if you want to rip a couple climbs or segments why not? I would even argue that as a mountain biker that is just as important.

My 20’s are a couple decades behind me as is the pointy end. I still race and enjoy getting faster… But there’s nothing like being out on the trails on a nice day!

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Yeh exactly my point, I train to ride not the reverse so I’d always prioritise getting outside over indoor riding.

Endurance riding is fairly easy to replicate on the gravel bike, but it’s the intensity of trail riding that leaves me flagging if I then do too much intensity on the turbo that week.

Also not recovering like my 20s so trying to give myself the best chance of not overtraining every week

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I would replace any Vo2/ anaerobic workouts for a MTB ride, depending how hard you ride that day. Then hit the sustained power tempo/ sweet spot/ threshold workouts as usual.


Thanks, for my learning what is the reason for replacing v02 / Anaerobic rather than sweetspot, threshold etc?

I would have imagined the 5-10 min climbs would have fallen more in the latter.

Please be patient I am a structured training novice!

The mtb bike trails I’m used to are short and punchy with like 5 minute max climbs. That’s the reasoning behind my comment but If you have more sustainable climbs than I might do the opposite. It’s always good to work on time to exhaustion for any cycling discipline, in my opinion. So that would be lengthening riding at tempo/ threshold/sweet spot zones.
Another possibility is ; You could always skip one workout one week and do the other the next.

If you have a power meter you could check out the power metrics after the ride. In your TR homepage online, click on the ride. Scroll down to the bottom and it’ll show how much time in each power zone for the ride. So you could see if you spent more time in vo2 zone vs. threshold etc.


Thanks this is really useful advice! I suppose there is no harm in training different ways of integrating out biking and seeing what works best

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@ChefAcB has some great advice here already!

If you are able to get out on your MTB for a ride and you push the pace a bit, it would be a good idea to go ahead and use it to replace one of your other structured, intense workouts for that week. Doing so will ensure you don’t build up more intensity than you’re looking for.

As for which workout to replace, we’d advise considering the type(s) of effort(s) you did during the ride. If they’re shorter and harder, maybe VO2 would be a good choice. If the climbs you go up are longer and you feel like you drop the intensity down to something more like Sweet Spot, then it would be better to replace one of those workouts.

Hopefully that helps! Feel free to let us know if you have any other questions. :slight_smile:


+1 on this. Do a few of your MTB rides and look at the data. Most people find that there isn’t that much quality continuous time in zone during their MTB rides, but it really depends on how you ride and what the terrain is like. I don’t have any MTB terrain around here that allows me to do any quality interval work, so MTB rides are for fun, working on technique, and just general body fitness. It sounds like you have places where you can work steady for ~10 minutes at a time, that’s enough time to knock out some quality interval work. If you can incorporate your scheduled interval workouts into your MTB ride, just use the MTB ride for one of your interval days. But don’t fool yourself. If the MTB power is all over the place, don’t try to make it an interval session and just enjoy it for what it is. No need to kill yourself on the MTB ride if you already have interval days for your “work”, just go out and do what feels good.