Training for the Faultline Ultra

Faultline Ultra 2024


When we were first approached by Mark Drew, our partner in New Zealand, to participate in the FaultLine Ultra or MTB Challenge, our first reaction was “Heck Yeah!” Who wouldn’t want to ride a course that links 6 bike parks together that captures the sheer joy of mountain biking? From river trails to boulder hills, urban riding to forest single track, and everything in between we were completely stoked! So much so, that we signed up for the 100 miler as a team!


Then reality set in. New Zealand is in the Southern Hemisphere which means that all of our training would happen in the winter. Ugh. It’s not that we don’t enjoy winter activities, in fact we love skiing, XC, and snowshoeing! But, we had to figure out how we could use those types of sports to come up with a training plan for turning those pedals. Enter Joe Friel.


We have always been huge fans of The Training Bible. For both of us, we decided to use it as the foundation for our training. What does this mean? Joe Friel’s approach is holistic in that it incorporates periodization, individualization, and consistency. So what does our training look like? We’ll try to break it out for you by the three components: periodization, individualism, and consistency.



Our training plan is broken into 3 phases:

  • Base: when we train our bodies for the rigors of training (basically getting our body acclimated to working out more than we usually do)
  • Build: the period when we are really building up our power and speed
  • Peak: we hope to peak the week of the race!


During periodization we focus on specific aspects of fitness such as endurance, strength, speed, and tapering, and incorporate those into our training plan. Jeff is trying to get in 450 “Annual Hours” whereas I am aiming for 400 “Annual Hours” from which we derive our weekly hours. These are based on some guidance provided by Joe in his book. We both are Masters (over 45 years of age), and have been riding for quite awhile. In other words, we aren’t starting from scratch, but we’re not like Sepp Kuss either!


Right now we are in Base training so it’s fairly low key. We are able to get some riding in, but as they say, “Winter is coming…” This is what it looks like for me and Jeff in terms of hours:


 Jenny's Base 
Week 1: 8 Hours Week 7: 9 Hours
Week 2: 9.5 Hours Week 8: 10.5 Hours
Week 3: 5.5 Hours Week 9: 5.5 Hours
Week 4: 8.5 Hours Week 10: 10.5 Hours
Week 5: 10 Hours Week 11: 11.5 Hours
Week 6: 5.5 Hours Week 12: 5.5 Hours


 Jeff's Base Period
Week 1: 9 Hours Week 7: 10 Hours
Week 2: 10.5 Hours Week 8: 12 Hours
Week 3: 6.5 Hours Week 9: 6.5 Hours
Week 4: 9.5 Hours Week 10: 12 Hours
Week 5: 11.5 Hours Week 11: 13 Hours
Week 6: 6.5 Hours Week 12: 6.5 Hours

We officially started our training plan on November 6th, but like most people we were sidelined by A LOT of “life”. From work obligations to seeing both our daughters graduate from college (!), our first couple of weeks were fairly bamboozled. Fortunately, it’s during the first phase (base training) which is relatively low key.



Jeff and I both have our own “plan”. As mentioned above, one of the differences is that Jeff will be building more hours into his plan than me (I am 5 years older after all…ha!). Another area of difference is our perceived weakness.


For Jeff, he is focusing on his climbing speed and losing weight. Jeff is an amazing climber over technical terrain (my weakness). If we’re going up a boulder strewn hill, he somehow manages to persevere and make it to the top. Me? I’m walking. But where he wants to improve is on climbing speed so he’ll be incorporating drills to help with this aspect. And, he’ll be looking to shed a couple of pounds. It’s amazing how a pound here and a pound there begins to add up! This past year when we moved into a new facility, finding time to work out was just challenging. Plus, we both LOVE to eat and share good times with friends. In the long run, it’s much less expensive to lose weight than to buy lighter gear😊


For me, I’m focusing on “force”. My RPM is strong but as mentioned above technical uphills are not my strong suit. Mark shared some of the course with us, and it struck fear into my heart! There are some insane climbs over really rocky terrain. I got a taste of how it might feel like from riding Scotch Creek  -> Blackhawk Pass -> Circle -> Silver Creek this past summer outside of Rico, CO. Yeah, I need to work on this.



This is probably what I love most about Joe Friel’s approach. Because you are training about 6 months out, there is time to build up to your goal (in our case finishing in the top 50% of the Faultline Ultra and MTB Challenge. Steady, gradual improvements over time lead to better long-term performance. The training plan strikes a balance between training stress and recovery, and avoiding excessive training loads that may lead to burnout or injury.


For Jeff and me, because we are older, we follow a “2 weeks on, 1 week off” cycle. So 2 weeks are heavy loads, followed by a week of recovery (which can be fun)! We use training zones to help guide us, and regularly assess about every 3 weeks where we are using objective metrics (FTP). We will try to mimic the racing conditions as best as we can – which will be a challenge in the winter season.


Another HUGE part of this endeavor will be mental preparation. I think training in the winter will definitely help with that! In fact, in our next blog, we’ll take a look at the challenges of training in the winter and how to mentally overcome some of those challenges.


In the meantime, feel free to provide any input on how to train over the winter! Any  training weaknesses we should look out for?


Onwards and upwards!
Jenny and Jeff 

Jeff and Jenny Vierling

1 comment

All of us NZ Tailwinders are looking forward to you coming over for this awesome event. I can’t help with any winter training tips for being on 2 wheels as I prefer to punish myself on foot. I reckon if you have any questions about the trails you’ll be hitting here, pop them on the Tailwind NZ FB page, there are heaps of us based in the Wellington area and I’m sure we’ll all check specifics for you to help with your training and to build your mental picture of what lies ahead.

Jamie C TFWP

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