Panic training - event in 4 weeks

So I’ve had about 2 years with no structured training and just been occasionally commuting and more recently doing a few zwift races for fun but I have the itch to do something in real life and am looking at a mtb marathon event in 4 weeks time.
Roughly 8hrs of racing, no big climbs but up and down the whole way. Zwift says my numbers are still looking fairly good (320w FTP) but I’m about 20kgs heavier than when I last raced and haven’t done anything over about 1hr 30 for a very long time. I’d like to be as competitive as possible (got 4th at the same race back in 2019) but realistically a top 20 would be amazing.

Any suggestions for a 4 week training program or anything in particular I should focus on? Just do 3 weeks of high volume SSB1 and spend a week recovering? Try and slim down to improve w/kg as much as possible? Just do 3hr endurance rides to get the legs ready for an 8hr effort? Open to suggestions.

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I think the plan you suggest is probably as good as anything else. I would say just approach the race with no place expectations. You’re in a totally different situation with your fitness, that change in weight is significant too (not judging). Just use the race as a way to see where you are using smart pacing and fueling and then set goals from there. Then you can train without the pressure like a kid who didn’t study final exam.

You cannot loose enough weight to make a difference in such a short period of time plus you said there were no big climbs.

Personally, I’d work on saddle time since you haven’t done anywhere near 8 hours in a long time. Maybe 3-4-5 hour endurance rides with some longer tempo intervals?

Doing some magical interval training to raise your FTP by 10 watts is probably not that helpful.

Just my 2 cents!


This would be my approach. 8 hours is a long time on the bike.

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Dialling your hydration, nutrition and bike comfort will make more difference than 3 weeks of hard training.


Yea going from no long rides to 8 hours is pretty much cramp city unless you pace at Z1.

Doesn’t matter what your FTP is. Your legs will not keep up.

I’d suggest stacking endurance rides on your weekends, just to get used to the saddle time. The sad truth is there’s not much you can do for this kind of event in 4 weeks that’s going to make a massive physiological difference, but you can at least prep the endurance and that can be built relatively quickly because you’ve had it before.

So I might suggest one tempo or SST set during the week, extending DURATION, not power. Then 3h Saturday, 2-3h Sunday

If you have time, do more endurance riding during the week, even if it’s just 1hr on a weekday. I’d keep your endurance riding to 170-200W.

The next week, extend the duration of the tempo/SST ride, then do 4h Sat, 3hr Sun.

The next week, same, try for 5hr Sat, 3-4 Sun. Always adding easy endurance time if you can during the week, an hour here or there.

Recover into your event.

Again, the key for you is going to be keeping the endurance rides ridiculously easy so you can build the volume up quickly. 50-60% of FTP. Even less is fine, build the time.

Ultimately your success in the event is going to come down to pacing, handling the rollers without ever going into the red, and fueling properly.


Kudos on jumping into the race you have coming up!

As others said, it’ll be tough to lose any extra weight or gain a significant amount of fitness in such a short time period, but I think you can still bump up the fitness you do have – even if just by a little bit.

Your thought on doing the first 3 weeks of SSB1 is the right idea, but I’d recommend sticking with Low Volume if it’s been a couple years since you’ve last done structured training. High Volume (or even Medium Volume) might be too much as you’re just getting back into structured workouts. Low Volume will give you 3 solid workouts per week that will focus on Sweet Spot and Threshold work, so you’ll at least be getting used to managing pedaling at high percentages of FTP for sustained intervals of time.

Like @kurt.braeckel said, adding longer endurance rides on the weekends (or whenever you have sufficient time) would be a good idea as well. 8hrs is a lot of time to be on the bike, so longer training rides could help you get used to spending those longer durations out in the saddle. It’s also a great time to dial in your nutrition and hydration strategies to make sure you have enough energy to keep riding for such a long time.

Finally, on the week leading into your race, dial things back with some extra rest/recovery, and go have fun at the race!

Hope this helps! Feel free to ask any other questions. :slight_smile:

I think others have given good options for training, but I think it should be reiterated:

Do not do this.

You won’t lose enough weight to make a difference to the positive. Most likely if you tried this you would not recover from your training and just feel super super flat for your race. Don’t over eat either but don’t try to lose weight.