MTB Marathon Nationals Review

Could I have my MTB Marathon National race/power reviewed? It was on 5/11/2019. This race will be one of only two or three A races for next year, I’m just curious if you coaches have anything to note.

Hi Matt!

Happy to look at for you!

So overall the first things I look at is the overall time and it was 3hrs and 44min. Your TSS was 266. Intensity factor overall was .85 Going into the race your CTL was 103 and TSB (form) was +20.

The reason I look at the CTL and TSB is so you know what type of fitness you were carrying into the race and also what your fatigue (TSB) was heading into it. If you felt good and legs felt strong this is a similar position you would want to line your training up to match. Your max CTL seemed to be 107 around March 31st. Ideally you’d like to hit your peak CTL 2 weeks out from your goal events. One way to maybe have a better race is trying to get a bit more CTL. Can break a barrier if you are looking to improve. But at the same time making sure to get your fatigue back up and in the positive before the event, that is why you give yourself 2 weeks before your goal event.

Ok now looking at your TSS and intensity factor for the race. In training this is something you will want to replicate. When you do simulation rides, group rides or etc you will want to work on maintaining an intensity factor of .85, maybe even push it a bit more.

So looking at your race I broke it down into hours.

1st hour - Average norm power 299 watts (.90 intensity factor)
2nd hour - Average norm power 268 watts (.81 intensity factor)
3rd hour - Average norm power 248 watts (.74 intensity factor)
Last 44min - Average norm power 234 watts (.71 intensity factor)

So you can see throughout the race the intensity factor and power drops. I know you can do more as you did do more, more specifically I saw a big gravel ride in January where for a similar duration your intensity factor was closer to .9 as opposed to .85 of this race. Though with a mountain bike race power is a lot more variable.

But You might want to look at pacing a bit more. You set your peak 10 and 20 minute heart rate averages in the first 30 minutes of this race. So you were maxed out. Depending on the course though it may require you staying with the leaders and drafting. Though if you were fading bad and getting passed at the end you don’t want that. So look at trying to maintain a bit more and finishing stronger.

With mountain bike racing it is hard to look at power, the reason is the variableness. It is constantly up and down power as you negative the course. So looking at heart rate is a good indication of effort. According to heart rate distribution you did mostly threshold heart for the whole race! So that is really good. You were pushing yourself and going as hard as you can.


Looking at power is a different story! You can see why doing high intensity intervals that are ON / OFF are very important. It is like most cross country mountain bike races where the most power is either spent in zone 1 or zone 6. So that is why doing numerous anaerobic efforts in training can be very important. A lot of these efforts are short 5 - 30 seconds. So that is something you need to replicate in training. Either doing a ton of interval workouts, mountain bike simulation rides, or attack style group rides. You spent a total of 36 minutes in zone 6. So that is something you should look to replicate in training and the ability to do that. Not only to be able to do it fresh, but also to do in training after 1500 or even 2000kjs of training.


With a race like this over 3000 kjs race nutrition is very important. You will need to stay fueled so you have energy as the race goes on. Not sure how well you stayed on it during the race and that can make a big difference. Really good to practice that in training. Here is a training tip on race nutrition.

Another thing we can look at for fatigue is cadence. Again though mountain biking is different than road with the on and off effect. However your cadence basically averaged the same from start to finish and was around 70 rpm. So you didn’t drop your cadence and muscle it a bit more which is good! That is a good sign of endurance and maintaining the same cadence does save the leg muscles. When you start to push harder and lower cadences is when you put more stress on the muscles.

So recommendations:

  1. Build up a good base and CTL. Get comfortable maintaining rides that average around .85 intensity factor. It is a high number but that is a good sweet spot group ride effort. Doing sweet spot efforts early and late in a ride. Like a 20 minute interval after 3 hours of riding.

  2. Do a good amount of anaerobic work. Get comfortable doing 35 - 45 minutes of zone 6 in one ride. That is a lot! But that is what the race requires. This pace stars at 130% of your FTP. Best way is through mountain bike simulation rides or group rides!

  3. Work on race day nutrition and really dial that in.

Hope this helps! If you have any questions let me know and happy to help out.


Thanks Jake,

This review is great, thanks for taking the time to give such a thorough reply! I think the recommendations you made are sure to improve my performance. I didn’t eat as much during the race as I had planned. I definitely need to put a little more into anaerobic work this year, because I felt a little lacking in the high end during a couple XC races leading up to Nats and at the race itself. I asked a question about my ATP in the public forum about increasing weekly TSS and CTL, so we’re on the same page there too.

I’m about to go into my post-season break, then I was thinking about Weights + Base, into 18 Weeks of Sweet Spot followed by Intervals for XC MTBing. There’s not enough time to complete these in full, and I felt like the weight lifting and the sweet spot were equally important. If I move the Sweet Spot plan up to just after the weight lifting is completed I’ll have just four weeks to get a little anaerobic work in and taper for MTB Marathon Nats. What do you think?

Take some off of the 18 week sweet spot so you can get in a full block of anaerobic and interval work. You’d still get in plenty of sweet spot base. Over 3 training cycles worth. The benefits of the anaerobic work for your race is key according to the data.

Doing cross country races before is a great way to get in those efforts as well on the weekends.

You’d want to finish the 6 week interval plan a week maybe two weeks before nationals. This gives you time to taper and rest. Two weeks before nationals you should do a ride that simulates nationals. Like full gas effort. You’ll be fatigued from training but simulation rides are really beneficial.

Since you have the coaching subscription we can help set this up for you. Once you get back to training after the break we can look at your plan overall. Then as you get closer to nationals we can set up the rest and taper for you.

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Thanks again Jake, I will check in after the post-season break.

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