Best approach - new user/long gravel event

New user looking for advice for best training approach for a long gravel event. Been training consistently, averaging 15-20 hr/week (mostly z1/2 4&5 hr long weekend rides + 2 weekly zwift races). Thinking about trying the 200 mile gravel training plan but The high vol systm gravel plan is significantly lower in volume and would it still elicit enough training stress to improve?
Would you drop the current volume (15-20hr/week) and follow the plan or just modify it and keep the current volume the same?

Have you done the fitness tests yet? If not, I would definitely start there. Give yourself a low volume week and follow the fitness test prep plan which is 7 days. If you start on Monday, you will ramp test on Wednesday and a do a Full Frontal 4DP test on Sunday (you can change start or end date to your desires, I do recommend you choose the plan that has Half Monty and Full Frontal tests). Based on your current volume, I would say no reason to not still do some longish Zone 1/2 rides in that week if you really want, just make sure you are well rested/recovered for the tests.

All other work in SYSTM is based on the values of these tests, so you want to get them right.

I’m reading into what you’ve written a bit (and based on my personal experiences) and guessing you are a high volume rider but without structured training? This is what I generally did for 12 years or so. This was my first winter of following structured training. It’s working!

This might be a good way to go, but get the tests done first. I highly recommend connecting to if you want to follow a good Fitness chart to see if you are training in the appropriate zone to answer that question about improving fitness. It’s free.

Here’s an example of mine: 42 days Fitness chart

I try to keep that blue line (fitness) trending up and avoid the red/high risk over-training zone. The red dots are my recent fitness tests (last week) and detecting new FTP values.

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@Mcks For what it is worth I did an 82 mile gravel event this weekend with 6,000 feet of climbing on my hardtail mountain bike with 45c tires. I signed up last minute so didn’t really prepare for the miles. My training since late December has been offseason lifting and doing the FTP progressions with longer z1/z2 on the weekends. Other than being under geared on my mountain bike with a 32 tooth up front I felt really good. I was slower on the road sections which is to be expected with the gearing but I even with a lower gear I was competitive on the gravel sections, especially stuff that was more off camber.

Endurance events are more about making sure your legs are acclimated to the distance, getting your fueling and hydration right and setting a pace that you can sustain throughout the event so I suspect that you will be fine even with the lower volume as long as you still keep the longer weekend rides in your plan. There were definitely sections where I was in MAP / AC territory and so getting some of those workouts in and being able to recover quickly and get back to my endurance pace really helped. Also I would recommend mixing in some cadence builds too to the extent that you have some short but steeper sections in the course or quick obstacles.

Good luck!

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