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Sweet spot vs. threshold work and interval duration for upcoming MTB stage race
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Not a tri-training question, but I am doing the Leadville MTB stage race in late July and I have time for 2 focused build cycles and I'm debating on the approach. The race is the same course as the one-day event, but 3 stages of ~2 - 3.5 hours each with a couple ~1 hour climbs at altitude, a bunch of other shorter climbs, and a decent amount of flat/grinding miles. Goal is top 10 in the 50+ age group, I have no idea if it's realistic.

My training this year has been a little disjointed from getting pretty sick for a couple months earlier in the year, but my base has been decent and I've done a bunch of tempo work with my big weekly ride being 5+ hours with normalized power at low tempo (up to around 235 watts for 5 hours with a ~300 watt ftp). I did a couple weeks of V02max sessions Tues/Thurs before a race in April, but it's been mostly big tempo all year until that point with some group rides and Zwift racing for a little intensity and fun. I did a Gravel race a few weeks back and the tempo work served me well as most of group faded late and I almost got on the podium on my MTB. I think the Leadville stages should be similar efforts, just at high altitude and longer harder efforts on the climbs.

I was planning on really focusing on FTP work up until Leadville and maybe squeeze in a couple V02 max sessions at the end. I started FTP work a couple weeks ago with the typical 2x20's, but then switched to 50 minute continuous because I thought it would help get me ready for the extended climbs (mentally and physically). The tradeoff is that the 50 minute is more like 93% of FTP vs. doing 20's at 100% of FTP. both hurt, just in different ways.

I'm also doing some reading on Sweet spot (as low as 84% of FTP) and wondering if I'd be better served doing much longer intervals at 85% rather than shorter at 93+%. I know I can create a lot more training stress riding 2 hours at 255 vs. 1 hour at 285, but I also know more TSS doesn't always translate to more fitness. At this point, I'm thinking of just mixing it up between 2x20's and 50's, but the sweet spot approach sounds interesting. Any thoughts on what the best approach would be? Maybe a mix of 50's, 2x20's, and also add some SS 120's?
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