Planning Fitness for Next Season (outdoors)

Hi All

Long one!

I have a few questions here that has been scratching my head. This has likely been spoken about before but there is a few things I feel is unique to my situation.

To Note
I just finished my first race season (XC MTB)
I am a beginner at MTB - started January 2022
I race XCO club leagues twice a week on natural trails (technically challenging) - I cycle to these events so generally it is 1 hour there > 40 min race > 1 hour back. So volume is key.
Race season is May to August
I have a PM and train exclusively outdoors year round. My training is largely based on daylight and weather.
There is 1 local league in August that I am unable to do as it is too technically challenging - More enduro than XC. But I would love to do this for next year.

Training Plan

  1. Planned Off-Season starting November 1st with 2 weeks off then followed by a mixture of gym, run, 1x SS workout on Thursdays and 4+ Hour Road + XC riding on the weekends.
  2. Planned Base Season Starting December (Low Volume TR with weekend ride Z2 added) 3x Rides. Tuesday Intensity, Thursday SS and Sunday SS + XC Riding (4-5 Hours). And gym twice a weeks - 20 min sessions.
  3. Planned Build and Specialty (Low Volume TR with weekend Z2 ride adding to the workout) Gym once per week.

I have 2 months left till my off season and after a few months of racing and no structured training I feel pretty fresh - I am considering what to do during this time.

Either I continue training as per TR or just unstructured MTB. I am leaning towards unstructured MTB as this will generally allow me to do.

  1. More volume
  2. More fun (consistent)
  3. Prepare my mind, body and soul for when I do start training with intensity again in the new year.
  4. WIll have to stop MTB during weekdays during winter as it will be too dark - this will be when i use the time to do intervals on a safe clear stretch of road at night. So making the most out of the summer days left.

My Goals

  1. To improve in general -There are some sections of trails in another local club league that I am completely unable to do. I would like to do these confidently so I can compete.

  2. Build up training capacity. I would like to exceed my 4.5wkg pleateu I have been having - generally when I start pushing my TSS and training volume in order to improve - I get sick or injured. Since I generally do more volume doing unstructured rides.

Will the added volume from my unstructured MTB rides help my training capacity? I started TR in August 2021 and got burnt out my April 2022 this year even though I had a higher FTP than ever.

  1. Be more competitive. At 4.5wkg I am getting dropped by guys much less fit than me but with a higher skill level and possibility better repeatability. This could be because they are recovering during descents rather than me which is tense and can’t recover on descents.

If it were road riding as I did before - I would be much clearer on what to do. But because its MTB and I am still very new to the sport and to racing in general - it has changed my perception on what ‘performance’ is, especially relative to XC. I want a long and sustainable trajectory as I love this sport! I would like to improve my skills without sacrificing fitness!

Any advice is appreciated!

See attached for typical samples of weekday rides and a long weekend ride. Can these sort of rides build training capacity and endurance compared to full TR no coasting for an hour-ish.