Ok to combine shorter weekend sessions as prep for longer event?

I decided earlier this week to enter a 35mi hilly XC race in 4 weeks. This comes after about 18 months away from structured training, due to an injury. I’ve been doing some recreational riding the past few months, so have some semblance of a decent base, but it’s not been anything that I’d classify as ‘training’. I do have a long history with power-based training on my road bike, so while I don’t have a meter on my MTB, I’m pretty comfortable with the concepts of load, fatigue, form, TSS, etc.

On Frank’s advice, given the very short run-up to the event, and the need for as much quick, meaningful gains as reasonably possible in the short time, I went with the MTB XC Intervals plan. The longer workouts of this plan are in the 1.5-2hr range, though there is one 4hr workout that will occur 2 weeks prior to the event. I anticipate the event being a 4-4.5hr affair, at least. Is it advisable to combine some of the 1.5-2hr workouts on weekends into longer, combined workouts, to build up some comfort with the longer duration that the event will take, or should I just keep plugging away at it in shorter chunks, with the optimistic hope that the results from the shorter workouts will come together on the day of the longer event?

That weekend that is two weeks out you can make that a simulation ride. Basically doing a 4 - 4.5 hour ride that will simulate your race. So spending a lot of time riding at 80 - 90% of your FTP and keeping the gas on. Try to ride on similar trails and terrain. Ride the equipment you will in the race, dial in your nutrition and etc. Just make it as much like the race as possible. You will be more fatigued going into this as you will have training from the week, but come race day you will have rested and tapered, or at least should.

I would recommend doing that ride on a Saturday after a Friday rest day. Then Sunday can be a short zone 2 ride for 1.5 - 2 hours.

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Jake, Thanks for the info. I hear what you’re saying about the 4+ hour ride 2 weeks out - I definitely plan to make that a race simulation, and will be riding it on the exact course, with the exact bike, etc. I guess my question is more about what to do in the mean time? The next 2 weekends call for 1.5-2hr rides each day (ie, Sat and Sun). Am I better off sticking to that (ie, 2 weekend days of shorter rides), or trying to combine those into a longer ride (closer to 4 hrs) one day, and then something lower-intensity the next day? (ie, grab most of the TSS in one longer ride, which would be closer to the event conditions), or spread the TSS out over the 2 separate, shorter rides over the weekends that are scheduled for these shorter rides?

Thanks Again!

Stick with your intervals the way they are laid out. But on Sunday make that a long endurance ride. Just add zone 2. Get in in 3 - 4 hours total. Just want to make sure you recover from this by the time Tuesday’s intervals come. But this is the best day typically for that long endurance ride with Monday being the rest day.

If intervals are planned on that Sunday, just do them first thing in the ride and ride zone 2 afterwards.

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