Training overload - the micro training camp

I’m training for a long distance race at the end of February (600km, 15000m gain). I really like the micro training camp approach that I heard some time ago on one of the podcasts - 4 days of overload and then a proper hard recovery.

My question is - with the race in mind - i’m planning one of these micro training camps over Christmas/ new year. Would you recommend 4 consecutive days of 6-7 hour long slow days (below 75% hr max), or a couple of these 6-7 long slow days with a couple of shorter 4-5 hour days with some sub threshold interval work?

*I am ok doing long slow rides up to 9-10 hours, but don’t normally do them back to back.

Many thanks, Carolyn

Hi Carolyn, and welcome to the forums! Great question. I’ve worked with athletes on long duration events in the past, but 600km is definitely a big distance. That’s impressive!

I think we can pull out some practices that may help you for this event. In any case, once you get beyond a certain time frame, it’s about that durability and grit, so if you have the capacity to keep making forward progress, you’ll come out of it pretty nicely. A 4 day block is a perfect way to prepare the body for something like this. I’ve done this before personally and with athletes, so good thinking building this into your training.

To your current plan, I would suggest incorporating some specific work into your routine. Like I mentioned before, at some point it’s more about just continuous movement rather than any particular % of max or threshold, so my general thought is to include specific components to those days that would suit your needs in the race. It sounds like there is plenty of climbing to be had in the event, so that would be an area to consider!

  1. Where do you gain the most climbing?
  2. Does any particular day stand out over the others?
  3. What are the climbs like? Long and shallow, steep and short, etc.?

With regard to the setup of the 4 days, I would recommend getting any quality/intensive work in early, so maybe day 1 you can include some top end or threshold work. Although you are going to be spending the vast majority of your time at a very sustainable HR in the race, we can always work on maintaining the feel of that top end work. So you might include some short efforts like 30/30, 40/20, etc. This can be done within a relatively long ride of 6-7 hours too.

Day 2 might include some long sustained efforts, near threshold or in the sweet spot range. You can do this in a structured way either with intervals built in, or just saving some bigger climbing miles until the last 2-3 hours of the ride.

Day 3 might be a long ride, but relatively flat, where you just log miles (this could be where you put in a huge volume of ~9 hours if you are thinking in that direction).

Finally, by day 4 you should be feeling the effects of this mini camp. I always feel like when we are coming to the end of these types of camps, that last day is kind of whatever you can do. You’re not going to have much quality to put out, so it’s again just another day to work on that durability to keep moving. Could be another long push of many hours. HR may be showing signs of fatigue by then too, so play it by ear.

After that, like you said, it’s proper hard recovery to allow the body to adapt.

Let us know what you come up with, and I’ll be looking forward to getting an update on the mini camp once you complete it!

Coach Ryan


Thanks @ryan! That’s really helpful information. I’ll definitely update you on how it goes.

We’ve just posted our first Live Q&A Session recording which addresses Carolyn’s question.

Live Members can see the recording: Q&A on Executing 4×8 Intervals, Using Scooters in Training, Recovery Walks, and Micro Training Camps.

Hi @ryan - thank again for the feedback on this idea. Just to let you know i’ve just finished my 4 day block. I had to change it a little bit, as day three I had to be back at home for a Zoom meeting -but still got some good kms in. I did some efforts on 3 of the 4 days - and just rode the road (rather than doing any up/downs) - which I much prefer!

Day One: 144km/ 2565m gain/ 6hours 15mins
I included 3x 10-13min (5-10min recoveries - road dependant) 98-100% threshold efforts.
I intended to also go 5x3min V02 efforts later in the ride on a 10km climb. They turned into 3x2min efforts and I stopped because I just wasn’t hitting the numbers. Interestingly - day one was the hardest - possibly because I was thinking too much about what was to come. Legs felt heavy too…

Day Two: 151km/ 3589m gain/ 8 hours
This day I did a large part of one of the stages of the race i’m training for. A 1000m climb, drop down to 500m, climb back to 2200m. I rode it all controlled and mostly below 75% HR Max (until the altitude came into play). Felt MUCH better than day one.

Day Three: 120km/ 688m gain/ 4 hours 20mins
Had to be back for an afternoon meeting, so stayed local and flat
Included 4x10min (4 min recovery) Sweetspot efforts on the flat
and 2x10min 30/30s on a short climb
Again legs felt good - surprised that the sweet spot efforts felt really good.

Day Four: 196km /3980m gain/ 8hours 55mins
Because I hadn’t been able to go long on day three, i decided to go really long on day 4. This loop is 100km undulating followed by a climb to 2200m and return the other side. It meant that there was no short cut back - which I thought might help psychologically!
Included 3x15min approx sweet spot efforts (where the road allowed) and then 3x8min (2min recovery) 100% threshold on the lower slopes of the climb (before the altitude kicked in). Legs generally felt good - the route includes 30km above 2000m, which I took easy endurance pace.

I’m pretty tired now, but feel like i’ve learnt lots - about my fuelling (made a few mistakes on day one that I didn’t repeat). I think my recent focus on long slow rides has really impacted my ability to hit V02 efforts - so need to work a little to bring that back. I also had to do all the rides on my own, because new COVID regulations have prohibited anything other than individual sport. So, in some ways it was more challenging for that reason.

Tomorrow i’m going to wash the bike, then spend the next few days doing a little gentle mtbing with my dog :slight_smile:

Thank you for discussing this idea on the podcast - it’s been really inspiring for me, and something i’m sure i’ll do again, one day…


Hey @Carolynsgaskell what a great couple of days you had! Great job on logging those kms! The photos look amazing.

It can be hard starting out a training camp like that with heavy legs, but it seems like they came around nicely and you were able to put out some excellent efforts throughout. It’s easy to tell that you pace yourself well to handle all of those sweet spot and threshold efforts.

It will be nice to look forward to the good feelings you’ll have on the bike once recovered too. And kudos on working out the nutrition. That’s the key, right? Once we make those mistakes, hopefully we don’t repeat them :slight_smile:

Thank you for sharing all that information on your ride, and I hope the rest of your training leading up to February continues to go well!

Coach Ryan