Recommended training plan - marathon MTB race prep

Hello! Just started on TR with my ramp test and will roll into the low volume sweet spot base phase. I am preparing for a marathon MTB race that is in 18 weeks. What would be a good 2nd and 3rd phase to prepare for that race?

What additional info do you need from me to help with that decision? I’ve been riding for 2-3 years now and would say I have decent fitness. I have completed this race twice before but would like to significantly improve on my time. My PR is 6 hrs 45 min. My stretch goal is to finish in less than 6 hours.

Base: Sweet Spot Base I, followed by Sweet Spot Base II (12 Weeks Total)
Build: General Build (8 Weeks)
Specialty: Cross-Country Marathon (8 Weeks)

1 Like

Thanks for the reply, Chad. I’ve got 18 weeks until the race. I like the idea of doubling up on base, but I won’t be able to do all 4 stages above, so I’ll have to choose. If you were to narrow that down to 3 things, which 3 would it be?

It’s not a “double” of base. The Sweet Spot Base is a 2-stage process.
It is intended to be complete in sequence, just as shown.

For not having enough time to complete a full B/B/S plan, see the following for recommendations:

I think you have more to gain from following the full Base and Build, and shorten the Specialty phase. The first two phase are where the bulk of your fitness will be gained. The Specialty is more about honing that fitness to a fine point and getting that last 2-5% of prep.


Since you just started structured training, sweet spot base 2 is actually really tough and I found to be great preparation for marathon mtb. Since you have exactly 18 weeks, I suggest doubling up on sweet spot base 2. It is not a “traditional” base phase and is really the best bang for your buck as far as generating endurance, power, and good pacing. I think you’d get more out of that 2nd turn on SSB2 than anything else. Hopefully your FTP will rise so the 2nd turn will be at a higher wattage, and thus still a progression. You can also add more outdoor volume to build up to your event. Good luck!

Ah, thank you both for the feedback. Makes plenty of sense.

Related question: what would a taper look like on a structured plan? I read that the volume should go down but the intensity should remain. Again, not sure what that would look like on a structured plan…

1 Like

The last 2 weeks of every Specialty plan is the taper.
So, just look to the desired plan to see one way to handle that.

1 Like

Same thing with sweet spot base. week 6 is a rest week, which would be your taper.

1 Like

You probably already know this if you’ve done the race before… don’t forget to lift. Do some core work, tricep work, etc.

Update for this thread:

I had a marathon race on Saturday, which was my first of the season of racing XC in the fall. I did the Dans TR workout for a recovery on Sunday, and admittedly, I probably should have just rested instead of doing an active recovery. Then Tuesday (yesterday), I attempted Mount Field, and I had to abort the workout 20 minutes in. I was COOKED. I even tried backing the intensity down about 10% but my legs were straight smoked.

My plan at this point is to rest 2 days and attempt Baxter on Friday. Then either rest three days to get back on the Tu, Th, Sat schedule, or attempt another active recovery on Sunday. Thoughts on this plan?

Again, this is my first experience with TR, so while I’m excited for the workout plan, I’m definitely disappointed that I started out on the wrong foot with the first workout.

Brandon, the exact same thing happens to me. I don’t even attempt the prescribed Tuesday workout following a race anymore. What I’ve found works well is to substitute Petit (even the -1 version) or Taku for that Tuesday workout then back to business as usual on Thursday. 2 days rest just isn’t enough for me and probably you as well; for now at least. I suspect that if you look at the TSS for your race/week you’ll see that you significantly exceeded your planned TSS for the week, so extra rest is probably warranted. Good luck out there!

1 Like

Thanks joolson. With his being my first training plan I can chalk that up to inexperience on my part. I am definitely still adjusting to the intensity of these workouts, even on low volume sweet spot base. I completed Goddard on tuesday, but I’m having to dial down the intensity when I get to those 8 minute intervals of sweet spot towards the end of the workout…i blow up trying to hold that intensity.