TMB Training Plan, Revealed

You gotta start somewhere, and a novice line graph is as good a place as any.

The graph below represents my path to not embarrassing myself too much next July 18th. It’s based on the Alpine Cols training outline that I’ve talked about before and definitely does not look like what will actually happen in real life, but it’s a place to begin.

It’s quite a simple plan since much of it involves me just finding mountains and climbing them for hours. The basics:

  • Each block up there is 4 weeks: 3 weeks of (usually) increased hours/mileage and 1 week recovery.
  • From now till mid April is what AC calls the ‘Preparation’ phase, which is a lot of Zone 2 riding (with climbs) with one day a week of Zone 4 intervals.
  • From April till 2 weeks before the event is ‘Pre Competition’, which involves progressively longer rides twice a week (up to 10 hours each), with recovery rides in between. As you get close to the event, your rides start to look more like what you are training for.
  • The last two weeks are the famous ‘taper’, which I always stress about far too much. Their guidelines are similar to what I’ve read/done in the past: two or three weeks out you reduce your training volume by 25% or so, then by 50% in the week before the event. This should, in theory, bring you to the day fresh and with still enough juice in the legs to finish.
  • The plan above gets me to 400 hours in the 8 months to the event – 50 hours a month on average. Someone who has some knowledge of these things can let me know if that’s enough or not. This guy, in the same 8 months running up to the event, tallied nearly 500 hours. His plan was also a little different from what I’ve outlined above – although he said that he ended up in Z1 and Z2 for 320 of those 500 hours. Endurance is the name of the TMB game.

But back to reality. It will take a lot of discipline to adhere to a plan like this, especially the ‘zone 2’ rides. I was just out with John today and hardly any of that ride would have been given the Z2 approval.

We’ll see. It’s a long road to July and we need to get this pandemic over with, too. But a wise man once said, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single line graph. I’m on my way.

15 thoughts on “TMB Training Plan, Revealed

  1. There is a guy i know who has done several TMB’s, having ridden with him, he doesn’t do much z2 stuff at all, its too hilly for those in the s/w of england 🙂 he just does big days in the saddle, 200k plus rides. PM me if you want to chat to him, he is very competitive in the event.

  2. I’m surprised by the recovery weeks. Seems a bit extreme to drop hours by 75% from May to July. Usually you only drop that much when you are doing final taper (which AC does do). Most endurance training I’ve seen does at least 50% volume during the 4th rest week.

    • Interesting. I’m going to dig into my old material and see what I was doing in the past. And yeah, their recovery weeks seem to just stay the same throughout the program no matter the training volume. Then again, it’s not really a ‘program’ that they made for the TMB site, but a ‘guideline’.

  3. I agree with richvelo….way too early to pull back that much. Also…you need to ride at a pace that suits you…your pace for that workout, not John’s or anyone else’s pace. The key to a training plan is to stick to the plan unless you are not recovering enough between hard sessions and if that’s the case, you would re-examine your plan. Too hard too much make Gerry burnt cyclist. Thats just my opinion…I could be wrong.

    • You could be right, too! I’ll try and be good when out with John. As for recovery weeks, I need to look at this again, now that you and Rich bring it up. I think I remember them increasing along with the volume, as you suggested, so will dig into my programs from before to see how that went.

  4. Big numbers, Gerry! 12- 20 hrs/week. Wow. good luck. Yes, riding in Z2 is tough in that it requires discipline; but if you’re going for those super long rides (10hrs!) it’s the onlyway to complete them. This morning I forced myself to do a 2.2W/kg group ride and it actually was great: 110bpm is NICE. So: good luck and I’ll be reading about your progress.

    • Thanks, Jan. I’m actually probably more made for Z2 than Z4, so it might not be too much of a hardship in the end. It will be hard to do those big rides, though, I can tell right now. 2 hours seems too long at the moment!

  5. Having done TMB in 2017 – echo comments about big days out. Also measure your HRV daily to avoid getting burned out. I’d do a week trip in Alps a month before and then taper. I actually found event easy but got a training plan from a sports physiologist so I could manage the load and also didn’t not miss a session on 7 months. Do that and the event is easy!

    • ‘Easy’ was not an adjective I was ready for with this sort of effort! Good advice on the ‘training camp’. I have tours all through June (if Covid allows), so I’m going to try and plan something in May, then maybe a mini-block in June. How long was your taper, by the way?

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