Training Plan Help - MTB XC Racing Season starts earlier than I planned for 😳


I recently started Trainer Road and am new to the forum. My MTB XC racing season starts at the beginning of May. I put together Sweet Spot Base Vol. 1 & 2, followed by General Build, followed by Cross Country Olympic (all Low Volume). After looking over my training calendar I realized I overshot the start of my season but quite a bit, and now I’m wondering the best approach to executing the plan to more appropriately coincide with the start of the season. I’m just 4 workouts into Sweet Spot Base Vol. 2.

Bottom line is - what’s the best combination of parts of the training plan to get me as ready as possible for basically a May 1st start to the season? There are a total of 10 races between May and September.

Thanks in advance for whatever feedback you can provide. I raced Beginner Class last year and am moving up to Sport Class - would like to be as competitive as possible.

Honestly, to me, this sounds fine. Use the early season races as training races and just go from there.


Don’t sweat it. You’ll be fine. You don’t want to time your peak for the first half of the race season. Last year I laid my plans out so that I’d be at peak fitness for the next to last race of our 8 race series. That let me stretch my peak out another 2 weeks for the state championship race.

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Start with SSB1 first! You can skip week 1 of SSB1 if you already did week 1 of SSB2. Then do SSB2 followed by GB.

You can’t rush your fitness and cramb training. Follow the progression of SSB1 & 2, Build then Specialty. You can race as you go through each one of these phases, just add a taper before each race. Each phase builds on itself (Base > Build > Specialty), so it’s not a rush to get to the Specialty phase. You’ll see you’re biggest fitness (FTP) gains during Base and Build. Specialty is simply refining the minor details, but it’s all for not if you haven’t built a foundation of fitness through Base and Build.

You have to consider your fitness long term. So where do you want to be year over year then plan accordingly. The TR calendar is great for that. It appears you were a bit unprepared this year, which is fine as you still have plenty of time.

If you were a beginner last year, realistically you’re not likely to be overly competitive moving up this year to Sport. Unless you were on the podium a bunch of times in your Beginner Cat races last year, and had a solid off season training plan (which it appears you’re starting late), be realistic with your goals. This year should be about building fitness and learning about competing which is likely to be significantly more demanding than the beginner Cat. Typically your races double for Sport Cat in time/length (more laps) and your competition likely takes their off season seriously. So set yourself process goals this year to ensure you’re moving your fitness forward while keeping motivation high and expectations in check.

I was Beginner Cat in MTB XC for 2017 as my first year riding. I had decent results with a few podiums to include a 1st place. In winter 2017/2018 I bought a trainer and Zwifted with semi-structured plans. I moved up to Sport Cat for 2018 and finished the first few races mid pack amongst the fast 40-44 category. As the season progressed I learned a ton and trained better while grabbing some podium finishes.

I found TR mid July 2018 with a few races remaining in the XC series. I made a lot of early training mistakes by not following the training plans correctly. However, I figured it out this past fall after listening to every TR podcast, reading a bunch of good books and spending lots of time on this and other forums. My FTP has gone from 193 (2.3 w/kg) in July 2018 to 287 (3.7 w/kg). I still have SSB1 & 2, GB, and XCM Specialty to go through as I plan to peak for a MTB 100 in mid September after my XC race season. So I expect to be very competitive this year in the XC Sport Category. Obviously I’ll be training through my XC races as I work to improve my fitness all summer.

So I’d recommend training in the TR recommended progression and you’ll be crushing the Sport Cat soon enough :leg::hammer::mountain_biking_man:t3:‍♂

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The above advice is all great advice from my experience. Just follow the plan progression and hit your workouts. With a low volume plan, I’d suggest sticking with each of the workouts as prescribed and start your racing season May 1st racing while continuing your training.

Ideally, you don’t want to finish a full base/build/specialty before your first race of the season, and with the assumption that your series is similar to mine in that with Sport you’ll roughly x2 the distance of the course… do not skip out on base training, I generally feel like I could go out and race after SSB2.
Many people stop training indoors once it’s race season, and IF your goals are to get faster and prioritize the time you have available to you to train - I’d recommend continuing on with your training indoors hitting those key workouts (in LV, that’s all of them in my opinion).

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Since I’m in roughly the same ballpark here with my planning I’m curious.

My A-race is Nationals the 28:th of July(W30). I had another program so I just added a couple of TR-workouts in the beginning of January and by the 22:nd January I started General Build(W4). With some sickness coming right at the start of GB I’m in my first recovery week now. I’ll be finishing GB end of week 13. Thing is that my B-series/C-series races continue all year but B-series Marathon-races start May 12:th (W19). What is the best approach on doing the build plans? I was thinking doing another General Build/Short Power Build then going to XCO/XCM-speciality phase. I also do strength training Wednesday/Friday and a long distance MTB-ride Sundays (4-5hrs approx).

So more structured:

  • GB W4 -> W13
  • First B-race W19 (Saturday)
  • A-race W30 (Sunday)

End of season would be somewhere in October so that’s when I plan on starting SSB/Basetraining.

@MI-XC Really appreciate the detailed feedback :ok_hand:. Wasn’t real clear in my initial explanation, I did indeed start with SS Base 1 - so I’m planning on doing the full course of training. I’m listening to the podcasts as well, and generally trying to take in as much information as possible. I did get 2nd place in my age group in the CPS Points Series of 10 MTB races. Is that what you raced in? I know I’m probably gonna get my ass kicked in Sport to some degree - just gonna go out there and give it my best.

Thanks again!

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@Wayne Great feedback Wayne - I appreciate it. :+1: After reading the responses here I’m feeling much better about sticking with the program I’ve got going. Have a great weekend!

Sure did! I also recorded every race I’ve ever done and you can see them here:

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