Recommend a Build Phase for MTB "Marathon"

As the topic suggests, I’m looking for a bit of assistance in choosing a build plan. I’m currently two weeks into SSB Low volume, planning to follow it up with SSB Low volume 2, and then a Low volume build phase.

One of my ‘A’ races for the year is going to fall at the end of the build on June 15th. I realize I’m not maximizing my training by missing the specialty, but it is what it is…Because of when and where the climbing is, I’m leaning towards a General build over the ‘MTB Marathon’ recommended Sustained Power. Thoughts?

The race is a 50km MTB race with about 2300m of climbing, in Squamish BC. I know that some won’t consider this a ‘marathon’ but last years winning time was 2:30, I’ll be aiming for a sub 4hr ride. This will be my first MTB race (or ride to date…) longer than 30km. The race starts with about 5k of climbing up 300m, and the big climb is at the end of the half way point (kms 15-25) with about 750m of vertical.

If it’s of any use, some aditional info: Through all of the plans I try to run on one of my off days mid week, and I go outside for an MTB ride every Sunday. I am currently riding at 3.3w/kg, and probably won’t make it to 4 before the June race. Also, my other ‘A’ race will be in the late fall during 'cross season, and I will do another Short Power build (and a Cyclocross specialty) before that comes up.

Hey @jelow , I did a similar training plan last year using LV General Build with an extra MTB ride thrown in each week, sometimes longer (nudging 2hrs), sometimes shorter (1 hr-ish) . I then followed this with the LV Road Century plan, and finally the first three weeks of MTB XCO specialty. This gave me one week taper into a 4-hr solo race (vs teams) in which I ended up riding 63km in 3:43 (not enough time left to ride another lap that would count towards my placing) with something like 1150m climbing at an average of just under 17km/h. Which wasn’t too bad for an oldish codger with Diabetes, high blood pressure, and male pattern baldness…

This year I am training for a 100km ride (the Whaka 100 in Rotorua), which has around 3000km of climbing. I am hoping to do this in under 6hrs, with my goal target as 5-1/2hrs. This is at the end of October, and I am currently doing 8-weeks of traditional base medium volume with mixed indoor / outdoor rides as it is summer here (had six weeks off from start of December last year due to work commitments and burn out after an 85km marathon in later November), followed up by SSB High Volume I, but dropping out one day of training, into SSB Low Volume II augmented with MTB rides. This will then be followed by the Sustained Power Build Mid, then Climbing Road Race Mid, and finally the first two weeks of XCM plan, and a restful week into the 100km race weekend.

I am also targeting two B/C races, being the 4-hr solo about 5 weeks before the 100km, and a 50km event about 9 weeks before the 100km.

It might look weird that I am hardly doing any MTB plans, but I have chosen the plans based more on fitness goals and also the terrain of the 100km race which is basically riding every trail in Rotorua. For this I want more of a general all-around fitness. The two lead in events are multi-lap events that require a bit of punch each lap, but these are being ridden to work on fueling strategy (being diabetic, this is the hardest thing to get right)

I think about three podcasts back, I think certainly in the 190’s the lads were talking about plan choices. I recommend you find and listen to that as there is some good advice in it.

Oh, and the reason for SSB High I to SSB Low II is to have a rest and not suffer burnout (I hope!)



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I’d do General Build for the best prep for XCM. Also, it looks like you have time to finish all of SSB1 & 2 and all of GB, with 2 weeks remaining before your A race. If that is correct I’d use the last 2 weeks (taper weeks) of the Specialty XC Marathon. That should keep you primed but rested for your event.


I am targeting the same mid-June Squamish XCM as my A race (plus cross in the fall), and am doing general build.

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The way that it’s laid out right now, I actually finish the last week of the build (the rest week) the same week as the race. Would it be advisable to have a two week taper? If so, should I cut weeks from base or build? It looks like the first week of SSB 2 is pretty low TSS, so I’d be tempted to remove that, and then also take a week off the end of the build?

Awesome! Have you ridden Spak’wus before, any tips? It’ll be my first time.

If you’re going to remove a week, I would remove it from SSB1 instead of 2. The first week of SS2 is only lower because of the ramp test, which you’ll have to do it no matter what week you move it to. Whether you need a two week taper is up to you (probably not on low volume), but a rest week then the last week of the specialty leading into your race should work well.

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I haven’t done Spakwus, but I did do the BCBR in 2015 and the old GearJammer race a few times before - not exactly the same course, but many of the similar trails.
There is a BCPOV youtube video of the race - that’ll probably give you a pretty good idea.
Given where you are, I’d say preride the consequential sections of the race - Leave of Absence, Made in the Shade, and some of the janky stuff at the end could be done in one ride, and Fred/Tinder/Your Mom is another quick 45min lap.
I did the BCBR at 3.7 W/kg and did fine, you will be fine if you stick with the training plan as you suggest. Make sure you work in some low cadence stuff on your longer rides - there are big power moves required on some of those late trails.

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In that case, I would replace Week 7 and 8 of Build with Week 7 and 8 of Specialty. That way you can get your taper in, while also getting a full Base and Build phase in :ok_hand:


With a low volume plan you might not need a two week taper. It’s good to experiment with different lengths of taper to see how you respond, I always feel a little flat after a full two weeks unless I am carrying a lot of fatigue into it.

I am also going with the General Build this year for XCM races, it seems to strike a good balance. I would recommend extending out your Sunday mtb ride into some fairly long rides leading into the race. The course has changed a bit over the last couple of years but if you look at last year’s profile it looks a little like it is all generally downhill after that big climb ending 25 kms into the race. It definitely does not feel like that, there is a lot of punchy climbing and physical descending from that high point and it’s good to have your body used to longer mtb efforts leading into the race.

If the Sp’akw’us is one of your A races racing one of the other local XCM races in May (Vedder, the Sunshine Coaster or the Nimby (maybe sold out)) would be good preparation.

Good luck!

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The Spakwus races are awesome. I did the 50 the first year and 35 last year. Doing the last Nimby 50 (did sell out) this year and will be doing the 35 again, hoping for a podium. It’s more like 1,500m of elevation… the Trail Forks calculations don’t really work. Have you ridden Squamish at all?


Definitely planning to get some longer rides in on Sundays once all this snow melts. Good to know about the second half, it certainly looks like it’s mostly down based on the profile.

And yes, I am signed up for the Vedder Classic, figured it would be a good check of how I’m doing and where my fitness is at.


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Nice! Good luck with your podium.

Interesting that it’s so different in elevation compared to Trail Forks. There is a route on there that I was basing the numbers off of. Do you have a gpx file or other from your race you’d be willing to share?

I have ridden in Squamish twice, I just got back into MTB a couple years ago and have mostly been riding on the shore. I plan to ride up there a bunch before the race though, I’d like to have at least seen all parts of the course before the day.

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Thanks Bryce! I’ll look at making those modifications.

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It doesn’t look like they’ve finalized the course yet and there might be some changes, but here’s the route that I raced the first year:

After a quick look, there were definitely some changes between 2017 and 2018, but overall elevation should be similar. Looks like they eliminated Recycle which was probably a good idea.

I only have the Nimby to compare it to and I think the Spakwus is a lot less technical, but I had more fun at the Spakwus race. Just took a look at Vedder, but seems like it sold out as well.

Was going to post a new thread asking similar questions but came across this one and it has some great info. Any new/revised opinions on this? With many of my races/events cancelled this year I’ve recently pulled a U-turn and am targeting ORAMM (100k XCM w/ 11,000’ gain) on July 26. Plan builder suggests Sustained Power Build leading into the race but I’m curious on people’s thoughts on that vs General Build or even Short Power - Recently @Jonathan has been singing the praises of Short Power Build for MTB big time and I’d be curious to hear others’ input as well.

Some info on me.

  • Currently 150lb/68kg w/ latest ramp test at 263w (3.9 w/kg) - hoping to push that up to 275-285 by ORAMM.
  • Current power profile is skewed pretty strongly towards sustained power already. Recently did a half-everest which basically worked out to 14x25min@84%-86% (not something I would have enjoyed on the trainer…) and I think my TR tested FTP is something I could likely replicate in a full 1 hour test (I managed a 259w full hour test in the Fall)
  • While I’m not sure that I necessarily need MORE short power to be more effective in MTB, I do think the ability to recover quickly from those short power surges and not have that take quite so much out of me could be as much or more of a benefit for a long day in the saddle in the woods? I know ORAMM isn’t overly technical and has some very long sustained climbs, so input from anyone that has raced this before would be great!

I’ve had a power meter on my MTB for a little over a year and my MTB is the only bike I ride and train on. I ride/race XCO and MTB 100s. Prior to having a PM I would have thought that “sustained power” was a significant part of my riding and racing. However, I’ve learned that is not the case, at least in Michigan/midwest. Because of the rolling and punchy terrain, I either need power ( > VO2 max) or I don’t ( < tempo). Rarely do I need Sweet Spot or Threshold ( < 13% of the time). It tends to be >22% VO2 max and above and 50%+ tempo and below (to include coasting).

The exception would be your course profile and trail conditions. Are they basically a gravel race (Leadville), then maybe Sustained Power Build is the way to go. However if you are actually riding singletrack, then I would lean more to General Build and swapping out that Sunday ride for an outside ride of 3 hours plus (in the Tips sections of the plan). Short Power Build may work as well, as you’re swapping over/unders from GB with more VO2 max in Short PB. You’d have to decide which is more appealing and/or you think you’d respond better to. Either way, I’d still recommend a long Sunday ride in place of more SS in both plans.

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Great feedback and very much in line with what I was thinking might be the case. From what I understand the course does have some long sustained fire road climbs (>1 hr) where a strong ability to ride at sweet spot would be beneficial, but given that I already know that >vo2 max efforts take a pretty hefty toll on me vs threshold, I would agree that something that focuses on punchiness (is this a thing??) would probably be beneficial, if for no other reason than to reduce the damage they do to my and my ability to ride technically at that time.