Seeking advice for upcoming XC marathon season

Hey everyone,

Great forum, great software, and great topics. Awesome.

I am looking for a bit of advice regarding training exercises or methodology for the upcoming XC marathon season. We have here, in Estonia, series of XC marathons that includes altogether around 18 marathons during the season. The race itself is usually 45-70 km long, 2-3 hours, sometimes more depending on the terrain. Various terrain including fire roads, singletracks, punchy climbs, etc Marathons take place are every weekend in various places across the country.

My question is very simple :slight_smile: How should I keep training between marathons? What training sessions are advisable in my case? I have around 6-8 hours during the week to train, plus the race time on the weekend. As per my understanding, it should be a mix of one endurance session (3hr) and 2 shorter (1 hr-1,5Hr) Vo2/Sweetspsot sessions.

Would really appreciate your thoughts. Thank you in advance.

Depending when you want to Peak and how much Base fitness you have will dictate your training plan. Ideally you’d do Sweet Spot Base 1 and 2 (12 weeks), then General Build or possibly Sustained Power Build if races are generally less punchy (8 weeks), then finish with the Cross Country Marathon (8 weeks) Specialty leading into your “A” race.

This Base - Build - Specialty progression assumes you have 28 weeks to train. You can race at any point in this process and through your training, just realize you’ll be building your fitness over time.

If you have been already doing consistent structured training and starting with some Base fitness, you can do an abbreviated Sweet Spot Base 1 to start and cut out the couple beginning weeks. Then just get as far as you can through Base - Build - Specialty through your race season. Ideally you’d have these 28 weeks planned out ahead of time and schedule your Specialty for when you want peak performance.


Thanks, but unfortunately it cannot be anything like “build”, simply because it will require 5 training sessions per week and I have a race every weekend. I have a proper indoor training period stared at beginning of november, now riding outside. All my marathon races are “a” race, it is just a series of maratons. So what I am looking for is a type of workouts which shall I do during the week.

I don’t understand this, unless you are looking at the high volume plans. Do the reduced volume plans. That will give you 3 workouts per week – and you will need recovery time in there.

I know that the guys talked about training through a season for a series. I would look at setting my A race about a month from the end. You can string fitness for that last month. Realize you will build the entire season until that race. If you peak at the start, by the end you will be fried. Hopefully someone will know which episode(s) this is covered.

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Excellent advise, thank you! :innocent:
“Do the reduced volume plans. That will give you 3 workouts per week – and you will need recovery time in there”. It could be a perfect solution.
Actually, the podcast’s episode which you may have mentioned is

Generally an athlete can truly peak about twice per race season, typically with roughly no less than 12 weeks in between peaks. So you may say that they’re all “A” races in terms of importantance, but you can’t peak (in regards to fitness) for each one, the body simply doesn’t work that way. For an “A” race you would want a two week taper leading into it so you maximize fitness and minimize fatigue. However, if you’re constantly tapering then you’re not building your fitness and you may see regression or stagnation. Instead, you will have to train through your race season and take mini tapers before each race.

So whether you have 2 or 10 XCM races in your season, you will have to choose which events you will have peak performance for and schedule your training season accordingly. As @dprimm stated, when racing in a Series where all events share equal importantance, choosing to peak mid to late season is generally best, then you try to hold that peak for the last month or so.

This is how I’ve scheduled my race seasons (XCO Championship Point Series) which have 10 races between late April and mid September of all equal value. However, there will always be certain events in the series that favor your abilities and you may choose to peak for those if a win is possible. So drop to a LV plan or do a mid volume if you can handle the TSS, and just substitute your weekend races for your TR workouts. You can use the last week of XCM Specialty as your taper week before each race as a substitute for wherever you are in your plan.


Do the Tuesday and Thursday workouts of low volume and a opener on Saturday if your race is on a Sunday. That’s how I’ll go about it just sprinkle in some LSD-rides in the middle of the week when the kids have gone to bed and the sun still shines. :+1:t2:




Many athletes have to be in shape for a whole season, but once competition starts, the progression of a plan becomes very difficult without some significant gaps between at least a few of the races. Trying to maintain the interval schedule of the plans (and the LV have higher IF interval sessions) while racing often can be a challenge. To @evermen, you should be somewhat selective of your races so you can score the most points, without burning yourself out and then utilizing either multiple week focus to be your sharpest for your A race.

for reference sake… I’m my sharpest for a good 6 to 8 weeks after my main taper, and am almost never sharpest for the first race of the season, even if the plan has got me “peaking” for that event since there’s also bike handling and pacing at play as well which will go a long way towards a good performance. Must of this is knowing how your body responds to training.

curious how did this go for you, the 2019 season?

With the new plan builder I’d put in all the races as B except for a series that you start with an A and then follow with B races until another A race 8 weeks apart. Low volume of course. You can back date your plan to when you started your base.

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