Warning - long, detailed post. Hoping to spur some discussion and also help others think about this subject.
I have a question about annual planning, specifically how to best use Sufferfest to structure my training.
My XC mountain bike season leads up to an annual A-Race on the first Saturday of October, a 40-80K mountain bike race (usually do the 40K but may choose the 80K). I also plan to compete in short-course XC races throughout the year (e.g., week night race series) and 2-4 XC olympic and marathon races during summer 2021 (if held).
Objectives are to build on my 2020 fitness (first year back to serious training after several years off from cycling) with a stretch goal of hitting 4W/KG (I’m 3.4w/kg based on 4DP test done a month ago) on a limited training load. My main limiter is time with 4-6 hours of weekly training as my usual load given other commitments and the majority of my training is done indoors. More than that and I’m making significant trade-offs. The goal isn’t winning races or hitting specific times. I mostly want to see what my potential is as a mid-30s dad working full-time. Overarching principle is that this is a fun and healthy hobby. No more, no less.
Also - I like structure. Just ‘taking it easy’ isn’t an ideal recipe for me.
Follow the strategy outlined in the [Blocks article] (https://thesufferfest.com/blogs/training-resources/how-to-use-the-new-building-block-training-plans). This more closely aligns with Cyclist Training Bible methodology. I would go Base - Tempo - FTP - MAP - AC/NM blocks or simply use Trainer Road’s free plan builder to create my annual plan and follow that methodology using the appropriate blocks (hint, hint - a plan builder could be a valuable Sufferfest tool…).
Leverage the Pre- and In-Season XC Plans, as follows:
- Pre-Season XC Plan - 12 weeks
- Training block (e.g., base, tempo to maintain fitness but reset a bit) - 3 weeks
- Pre-Season XC Plan - 12 weeks
- Training block (e.g., same idea as before) - 4 weeks (extra week leads me into the correct start date for 12 week plan)
- In-Season XC Plan - 12 weeks, leading me to early October A-Race.
Option 1 is interesting because it allows me to leverage my full year and provides more customization (e.g., 4 week base block, 3 week tempo block to build then back into a 4 week base block for winter months). Main concern is the value doing base training during winter months when I could be better using my time with more intensity as outlined in the ‘no base needed’ article. I’m doing a base block now, after a couple weeks of unstructured training, and it is a good mental reset/transition after a busy fall calendar (6-7 weeks of weekly XC races). Main concern is that volume isn’t high enough to be really beneficial (can’t/won’t do more volume given other commitments) versus other options.
Option 2 is interesting because it is fully planned for me, no need to think about blocks or progression, the strength/yoga/mental training is better integrated, and I take my time getting to my priority race (with races leading up to it). My concern is checking out before I get to In-Season Plan (mitigated with blocks between plans that can be used as recovery/buffer weeks/time off). My concern is that I’m not using these plans as intended, i.e., 12 Weeks Pre-Season Plan followed by 12 week In-Season Plan.
Normally, I would off-arse my off-season but jump into a plan leading up to an A race (I used the XC prep plan this season with success). I want to take a more strategic approach this year as I am 1) more motivated and focused to start early 2) want to improve performance but don’t want to be a ‘Christmas Star’ and 3) want to get the maximum from my Sufferfest subscription.
I searched and read related threads/articles but new functionalities are available and past discussions didn’t really answer specifics.
Looking forward to thoughts and thanks in advance for your comments.