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Ultra-Marathon MTB Training Advice


TyronLab
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Ahoy bikehubland.

 

I've officially been entered into the Transbaviaans Race next year. For some context, I'm 88kgs, riding a 15kg bike. Did the TB last year in 18h (due to a very unfit partner), 4h-ish 94.7, 3h-ish Suikderbosrand rider. My team has decreed that we will be attempting a sub-12 hour Transbaviaans. While I'm fit enough to probably finish it at the moment, I'm nowhere near a 12-hour methinks.

 

So, I'll need to get some training done evidently, but judging by my previous experience the recommended 23-week training plan from the TB website isn't going to work for me. I travel quite a bit, usually for 7 days at a time once or twice every two months to mine sites into Africa, generally with very little notice. My day to day is also pretty variable, so having a training plan that requires you to ride 1.5 - 2.5hrs every day, and both days on weekends, isn't going to work.

 

What I want to find out from those with more experience in these sorts of things than little old me, is what would be the best way to spend my time?

 

My plan is to try and do 2-3 rides during the week, and a long (preferably dirt) ride every weekend (80-110km). Ride hard in the week, take it easy on the weekends. This I know I can comfortably achieve.

 

I've tried actively monitoring my HR while outdoors but it detracts from the fun of riding my bike which gets demotivating. I've also tried indoor training using HR, but I felt that it was too different to what riding outdoors feels like and like I didn't see the same training gains as I did just riding hard outdoors.

 

Am I wasting my time with my "plan"? Do I need to have a super-structured, periodic, pyramid style religious training plan to even get close to a 12h TB?

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My plan is to try and do 2-3 rides during the week, and a long (preferably dirt) ride every weekend (80-110km). Ride hard in the week, take it easy on the weekends. This I know I can comfortably achieve.

 

 

 

 

THIS

 

I followed the time crunched cyclist ULTRA MTB plan when I did 36One and managed to "comfortably" finish.

 

The plan follows the same regime as what you are planning

 

3 intervals during the week with some cross/core training

2 long endurance rides on the weekend

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Today's Plan allows your to enter in your routine, what days work, how many hours etc, and it sorts out a training program for you with intervals etc. my advice is to work out TB plan and do your best to stick to it - it's probably better than winging it... there is a trial for the premium option

 

the other option is to get a coach. 

 

let us know how you get on

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I can second what lechatnoir said above. I have entered 36One for next year, the only other ultra endurance event I have done was Baviaans this year. Which I did not too long after neck surgery.

 

I am a bit more afraid of 36One, checked outs numerous training websites and chose Today’s Plan because you can choose your schedule and they make a plan to match, and also because they actually have a list of events (Baviaans included) that you can then make a specific plan for.

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I agree with the others above (I'm using IM knowledge here, as I have only completed 1 TB and that was pretty chilled) but would be to start building your base now.

Focus more on time in the saddle at the moment. Get a solid base and be consistent.

Then when you're crunched for time, concentrate on solid, interval sessions during the week and long rides on the weekend.

When you're travelling, try eat health (easier said than done), and do lotsa cross training; functional training (HIIT body weight training; burpees, dips, push ups - there's loads of videos on youtube) and take your takkies and even if it's a 5 or 8km, it will help your anaerobic conditioning. 

But consistency is your friend!

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  • 5 months later...

So quick update on this, training has, to say the least, not gone well. Between a lot of work commitments, a newborn that was in NICU for the first 10 days and then, just, having a newborn at home and trying to be a present father, mixed in with a healthy dose of pandemic has left me pretty unfit. I've managed one or two sessions a week, but that has led to a steady decline in my fitness (according to Strava and intervals.icu).

 

I was at my physical peak a week before my son was born (43 fitness according to invervals.icu) but have since dropped off quite significantly (a measly 21 at the moment).

 

With that being said, I took delivery of a speed and cadence sensor on the weekend and enjoyed the hell out of my first Zwift experience, so I'm looking at doing the Build Me Up plan in anticipation for Transbaviaans (fits in exactly with the 12 weeks left).

 

Even though it'll most likely be moved out by a few months I'm going to train as if it isn't, as I'm eyeing up the Munga Grit in October.

 

Strangely, when I do go out riding, I don't feel that much slower than I did. I think I've built up a pretty solid base level of endurance fitness, but I can feel I'm down on max power output and the sustainability of a high power level for sure.

Edited by TyronLab
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So quick update on this, training has, to say the least, not gone well. Between a lot of work commitments, a newborn that was in NICU for the first 10 days and then, just, having a newborn at home and trying to be a present father, mixed in with a healthy dose of pandemic has left me pretty unfit. I've managed one or two sessions a week, but that has led to a steady decline in my fitness (according to Strava and intervals.icu).

 

I was at my physical peak a week before my son was born (43 fitness according to invervals.icu) but have since dropped off quite significantly (a measly 21 at the moment).

 

With that being said, I took delivery of a speed and cadence sensor on the weekend and enjoyed the hell out of my first Zwift experience, so I'm looking at doing the Build Me Up plan in anticipation for Transbaviaans (fits in exactly with the 12 weeks left).

 

Even though it'll most likely be moved out by a few months I'm going to train as if it isn't, as I'm eyeing up the Munga Grit in October.

 

Strangely, when I do go out riding, I don't feel that much slower than I did. I think I've built up a pretty solid base level of endurance fitness, but I can feel I'm down on max power output and the sustainability of a high power level for sure.

I dunno how people with jobs, kids etc manage to train for an event without using a trainer. Last year due to the neck surgery described above I was not allowed to ride outside until July, so did most of the Baviaans training on the trainer. During the week I cannot train outside and Zwift is a godsend.

 

That said, when my last child was born I wrote off that year for any events, newborns and training don’t mix as you well know. Good luck man.

Edited by Knersboy
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I dunno how people with jobs, kids etc manage to train for an event without using a trainer. Last year due to the neck surgery described above I was not allowed to ride outside until July, so did most of the Baviaans training on the trainer. During the week I cannot train outside and Zwift is a godsend.

 

That said, when my last child was born I wrote off that year for any events, newborns and training don’t mix as you well know. Good luck man.

 

 

my daughter still loves the hummmm of the indoor trainer, 

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I will be surprised if the Transbaviaans is going ahead this year. The organizers said they will make a call on the 1st of June but they should have made it already.

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Can I weigh in here? I have done 4 TB's but only finished 2. The first DNF was due to a bad fall on the Nuwekloof Pass in 2013 and the second was due to my thyroid packing it in on MAC. 

 

A 12 hour finish is nice, I mean hell, everyone wants to head into J-Bay before the sun goes down. But, here's the reality of the matter: To clock a sub 12 you will have to have a very good base. I am not saying you need to do 80-110km rides to obtain this base, I am saying you need consistency and a plan for race-day.

 

So here's my suggestion:  

(Disclaimer, this is my suggestion and I do not know everything) 

  • Ditch Zwift and get yourself Sufferfest - reason is simple, you need structure and not "free rides" or junk miles (Pitch forks out Zwift-fans)  :stupid:.
  • Don't fret too much about getting 80-110km rides in before the TB. If you have a good base fitness then shorter rides will add just as much value (dependent on the intensity of the rides though).
  • Send me a pm if you want some alternative tips for race day - this will be very lengthy and I do not want to clutter this thread  :).

I will also be doing the TB this year or if it gets moved to Jan. With my current fitness level I will be able to break 13 hours

 

 

So quick update on this, training has, to say the least, not gone well. Between a lot of work commitments, a newborn that was in NICU for the first 10 days and then, just, having a newborn at home and trying to be a present father, mixed in with a healthy dose of pandemic has left me pretty unfit. I've managed one or two sessions a week, but that has led to a steady decline in my fitness (according to Strava and intervals.icu).

 

I was at my physical peak a week before my son was born (43 fitness according to invervals.icu) but have since dropped off quite significantly (a measly 21 at the moment).

 

With that being said, I took delivery of a speed and cadence sensor on the weekend and enjoyed the hell out of my first Zwift experience, so I'm looking at doing the Build Me Up plan in anticipation for Transbaviaans (fits in exactly with the 12 weeks left).

 

Even though it'll most likely be moved out by a few months I'm going to train as if it isn't, as I'm eyeing up the Munga Grit in October.

 

Strangely, when I do go out riding, I don't feel that much slower than I did. I think I've built up a pretty solid base level of endurance fitness, but I can feel I'm down on max power output and the sustainability of a high power level for sure.

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Thanks for the feedback all.

 

I'm pretty lucky that I'll be riding the TB with two experienced guys (one of which is a 4.4 w/kg beast that does his ride with us just for route recce), so I'll at least have some support and guys to draft :).

 

I think you sent me an essay before TB last year Rob, I still refer to it every now and then. I realize that the 12h goal needs the starts to align a lot on race day, but I still want to be sure I'm fit enough for it.

 

I'm going to try Sufferfest too, but both my wife and I are enjoying Zwift at the moment and I'll be sticking to the Build Me Up structured plan, not just jolling around with others.

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One other thing to consider when aiming for sub 12h, is planning your stops very well, and not spending too much time there. 

 

You should be able to manage less than 1 hour total stop time at all the stops combined, that goes a long way to reducing total race time.

 

+1 for sufferfest as well, the programs on there will manage your fatigue and build up your fitness well, giving you the necessary rest when needed.

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Congrats on the new addition of the little one. My little one is just over a week old now too. I'm also training for TB this year, although have my doubts it's going to happen in August. I've already received comms from the school hostel for a refund - I'm not sure if they jumped the gun (for the 1 June announcement) or if it's purely related to having so many athletes in one place. 

 

I concur with the opinions above - training for something like the TB with little ones would be impossible for me if it wasn't for my IDT.

 

I use Zwift and like the gamification that it offers but, as Rob has hinted at, I don't rate their structured plans (yet). I haven't used Sufferfest so can't comment, but also consider using TP for the structured stuff. I bought a plan to train for last year's TB and have simply made adjustments for this year. What I like about this approach is that TP workouts integrate directly into Zwift - once the plan is setup in TP all I do is get on the trainer with Zwift every day. Each days workout becomes available in the workouts section for you to select. The downside of this approach is that I pay for both Zwift and TP. 

 

Good luck and hope to see you at the start line.

 

 

Thanks for the feedback all.

 

I'm pretty lucky that I'll be riding the TB with two experienced guys (one of which is a 4.4 w/kg beast that does his ride with us just for route recce), so I'll at least have some support and guys to draft :).

 

I think you sent me an essay before TB last year Rob, I still refer to it every now and then. I realize that the 12h goal needs the starts to align a lot on race day, but I still want to be sure I'm fit enough for it.

 

I'm going to try Sufferfest too, but both my wife and I are enjoying Zwift at the moment and I'll be sticking to the Build Me Up structured plan, not just jolling around with others.

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