Training for 1500km self-supported gravel ride

HI,

I hope that you can give me advice/opinion on training for prementioned event.

Ride profile:
The event takes place in July.
Terrain is more or less flat and without any major climbs.

Rider profile:
Age: 37yo
FTP: Around 300W
Weight: 75kg
Training per week : approx 12h during winter and more during spring summer.

Goal for the ride is : To move as fast as possible as long as possible. If everything goes right I’d expect to do the event in 4-5days. To use minial gear and to be as light as possible.

I see there are to scenarios:

  1. Ride on a rather conservative pace for a longer time - for example 15kmh avg for 20h or more. Get as little sleep as possible.

  2. Ride on a decent pace for shorter time but get a decent sleep during the night (4+h).

Bit of history: I have done similar distance ride before 1400km in 6 days. Heavier gear and rougher terrain. Log rides in general are not foreign to me: for example → https://www.strava.com/activities/6437986791

My question.
I’d like to really push myself and go for the 2nd scenario - faster avg speed, so what would be you r suggestions for training?

As I see there is no need to make short punchy efforts as there are no hills nor sprints. Does it mean that it all comes down to long intervals in tempo/sweet spot zone? Long steady rides? Pyramidial training?

All comments and suggestions are welcome!

Thanks!

To clarify, have you done multi day rides on little sleep before? 1400k in 6d is 12 h a day of riding at 20kph and 8-10h a night to sleep.

If not: the lack of sleep really interferes with your recovery and your possible power output/max HR the subsequent days. You should do a test ride where you ride for say 8h, sleep for 4, then ride 100k, and see how you feel/how your body performs in that situation.

From anecdotal personal experience, the things that made me get faster on 8-20h rides are:

  1. Riding more. Coming in with a larger base of more hours per week for months to years is invaluable. Going from 300h/y to 400h/y back in the day seemed to be what brought my average speed from 28 to 32kph on 8-12h rides. Currently aiming for 500-600h/y these days.

  2. Minimizing stoppage time. This is potentially the most important one. I’ve had faster total times on 300-400k rides with a moving average of 28kph when I kept stops short, than with a moving average of 32-34kph and being casual at stops.

This means minimizing stops (maybe once every 4h), being efficient when you do stop with a plan you can follow mindlessly even when you are a sleep deprived zombie (ex have a mental or physical checklist), getting as comfy as possible on the bike, incorporating a regular stretching routine while on the bike (ex stand up for 1min every 15min, neck and arm stretches once an hour while still riding), eating on the bike, being very organized when you do go down to sleep and when you get up in the morning (no dawdling on your phone, or trying to remember if you’ve picked everything up), etc.

I don’t have a recommendation for specific type of training because I’m not convinced I know the best way. I personally follow a polarized-ish model when I am in season. This means one VO2 workout per week to keep the roof high, one 6-8h z2 ride per week (or as long as possible without recovery interfering with subsequent riding days) to keep the floor strong. I try to incorporate some SS or threshold work in there too to keep the house full. Sometimes this is a specific single threshold workout in a week, sometimes this is SS work 2h into a z2 ride. This is the part I am not really settled on. The rest of my training hours are mostly z2 or low tempo.

Edit: for an example regarding physiological status on day 2 after riding for 20h then sleeping for 4h, my max heart rate goes from ~200 to maybe 170 on day 2. My average power on day 1 will be ~190-200w, on day 2 I’m happy if I’m holding 150-170 for another 8-10h.

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Thanks for the feedback. About the 1400km race. It had 15k climbing with some nastiest rooted single track + probably had too much stuff on my bike as well. Got approx 4-5h sleep during night.

Coming back to upcoming ride. My plan for training is that when it gets warmer I’ll start to implement long consequent days to my plan. Something like Saturday 300km + Sunday 200km to see how my body reacts. Probably do them as overnighters.

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I did a 300/200k (~5600m elev.) weekend about six weeks before PBP 2019, it was a great tune-up for that ride. I also did a flat 1000k (~6200m) 3 weeks before PBP and was in great form for PBP. I worked out my fuelling and gear stowage on these rides too. I did two full series earlier in the year as well. Tried to pick brevets that had similar kinds of elevation profiles to PBP, though more climbing probably didn’t hurt when I could find it.

I still do a lot of volume these days, though have made a concerted effort to cross-train in winter with skating and skiing. I do manual labour but still do some weight training. Indoor structure is limited to hour-ish threshold or ftp sessions… I usually do virtual mountain climbs but am going to start doing some flatter TT type rides at these intensities. I enjoy them on fulgaz but used to use zwift. RGT or Rouvy would work too. I probably should do some work on my short power but for how I ride it seems like it’s good enough.

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But what would be the most suitable training TR plan for that type of event?

At the moment I went with this:
Med-Vol
SS Base II - 6 weeks
Sustained Power Build - 8 weeks
40K TT - 8 weeks

40K TT seems to be most suited for this type of event. Same probably goes for Gravel/Century plan.

But at the same time as @cnidos said the polarized-ish plan would work well too. Come to thin maybe this would be the most suitable option.

Yep, that’s what I would do as well:

  • take POL6, either MV or HV
  • keep AT guided VO2max progression
  • substitute Threshold progression with Sweet Spot Progression. Interesting post is 180 and it’s followups. Start with whatever level you think is appropriate for you currently but at some point start doing longer and longer 1x intervals (1x60 → 1x180) to improve fatigue resiliency
  • fill other days with Z2 guided by LT1 HR

Caveat: haven’t done any multi-day events yet, still working on squeezing longest distance into 12-24h.

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My winter training over the past few years has been:

  1. Build Me Up from Zwift, done once or twice per winter. I had very good results from this the first two winters I did this, going from an FTP of like 240 back then to 320ish.

  2. SSBMV then SPBMV once I got sick of BMU over and over, and ran into issues with its lack of flexibility when I was working overnights a lot. Burned out in SPB. FTP was not as high (around 305) but TTE at SS and threshold was higher.

  3. This winter doing PolHV build, then SPBHV, which I’m 6 weeks into. I’ve written about my experience with PolHV build elsewhere on this forum, but liked it.

My long distance performance in this time period went from an 8h power of 160w, to 220w, and a 4h power from 180w to 250w. Again, this was also over a time period of going from about 300h/y to closer to 500.

Will see how this season goes.

My impression is that most of this improvement was just riding more, with some sort of structure. I don’t know how much the specific structure played into things.

From my experience, not as an expert, doing SSB or Pol or SPB are all things I’ve done/did and think they worked well. I’ve never done a specialty phase with TR, so can’t comment on the TT one. My “specialty” phase usually is just one long ride, one VO2, some sort of threshold/SS per week. For the reason that that seemed reasonable rather than anything else. However, this got me the power curve described above, and an FTP all time high of 338 at the end of this season.

@svens I am putting in a SS progression after my builds this winter, mostly focused on increasing TTE at SS. To fill the house so to speak, but also because I’m doing an informal “raid pyreneen” this year, and need to get better at climbing for a longer climbs.

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I just jumped into TR with the century plan during the winter before PBP 2019. I think it was fine but I had poor compliance due to my job. It’s actually why I’ve moved away from any kind of structure. I dunno what the plans look like nowadays but I think you’d be hard-pressed to go wrong with a day or two of sweetspot/threshold intervals; extending them out longer and longer… wouldn’t really worry about increasing FTP, focus more on increasing TTE and the FTP will probably creep up with it, that’s been my experience at least. Adding in as much zone 2 as your schedule permits… not that I have any real idea of what I’m doing, just fumbling around trying to make the training as fun as I can while seeing some kinda gains.