Colorado Grand Traverse Ultra Run & MTB Race Training Plan



This 8-Week, 6 day/week training program is sport-specifically designed to prepare athletes for the high volume and intensity of a Colorado Grand Traverse Run followed the next day by the Colorado Grand Traverse Mountain Bike (MTB) Race.  

The Grand Traverse Mountain Run is a point-to-point ultra marathon from Crested Butte to Aspen, Colorado. The course follows the route of the Grand Traverse Backcountry Ski race. In total, runners travel 40 miles across the Elk Mountains with over 6,000′ of elevation gain.

The next day, athletes will MTB back from Aspen to Crested Butte, Colorado. In total, bikers travel 40 miles across the Elk Mountains with over 7,800′ of elevation gain. The course starts with a 3000′ ascent up Aspen Mountain before continuing deep into the Elk Mountains.

This plan is designed to be completed the 8 weeks direly before your event. Week 8 in the plan is an unload/taper week. 

This training program has 2 general objectives:

  • (1) Increase vertical and decline-specific leg strength and strength endurance.
  • (2) Increase trail running fitness and volume build to be able to run and complete the 40-MIle Grand Traverse Run.
  • (3) Increase MTB fitness and volume build to be able to run and complete the 40-MIle Grand Traverse MTB the next day.

This is Version 1 of this plan, built April, 2023.

This training plan works to build your running and MTB volume to be able to complete the Grand Traverse Run and MTB on consecutive days. This includes a long run every Saturday in the plan, and a long MTB Ride every Sunday. 

Below is the weekly Trail Run mileage and weekly long run in the plan. In addition to the running volume below, you’ll complete a weekly “vertical strength” session each week consisting of leg blasters and step up intervals.

Week   Mileage    Long Run
1          20             10
2          25             12
3          32             15
4          37             18
5          43             20
6          55             25
7          45             30
8           6                6

Below is the weekly Mountain Bike mileage and weekly long run in the plan. In addition to the running volume below, you’ll complete a weekly “vertical strength” session each week consisting of leg blasters and step up intervals along with threshold MTB hill sprints.

Week   Mileage    Long Ride
1          20             10
2          22             12
3          30             15
4          33             18
5          40             20
6          45             25
7          40             30
8          10             10

Vertical Leg Strength
On the running side, this training plan includes two options for building the uphill and downhill leg strength, strength endurance, and recovery needed to complete and recover from the vertical gain/loss in the Grand Traverse.  

  1. Gym-Based Option – this is for athletes without easy access to a long, steep hill they can hike and do laps on. The gym-based work focuses on MTI’s leg blaster complex to build the eccentric leg strength for the downhills and step ups to build the concentric leg strength and strength endurance for the uphills.
  2. Steep Hill Option – this option is for athletes with access to a long, steep hill, and includes specific daily vertical gain and loss totals which can be completed by doing laps on a steep hill. 

On the MTB side, this training plan deploys weekly, 10-mile hill sprint intervals on Tuesday. 


  • Mon: Moderate Pace 5-12 Mile Trail Run
  • Tue: MTB Hill Sprints
  • Wed: Trail Run / MTB “Brick” – Trail Run followed by a MTB Ride. Can be split into a 2-a-day if needed
  • Thu: Vertical Leg Strength and Strength Endurance
  • Frii: Total Rest
  • Sat: Long Moderate Pace Run
  • Sun: Long Moderate Pace MTB Ride

What is the Required Equipment?
– Foam Roller
– 16-20″ Box or Bench for Step Ups

How Long do the Sessions Last?
1-8 hours depending upon your running pace. Longest day will be the Saturday’s long run which peaks at 30 miles on week 7. Overall, this training plan will take significant training time and commitment.

What if I miss a day?
If you miss a day, make up the session you missed the next day and follow the programming as prescribed. The programming is progressive – it builds upon itself. Don’t skip ahead.

What does 25/35# Dumbbell Crawl mean? What about 3/5x Chin Ups.

  • 25/35# Dumbbell Crawl = women use 25#, men use 35#
  • 3/6x Chin Ups = Women do 3x, Men do 6x.

Where do I find unfamiliar exercises?
See our Exercise Library HERE. The Run Calculator is listed as an exercise.

What about nutrition?
See our Nutritional Guidelines HERE.


Before beginning any exercise program, consult with your physician to ensure that you are in proper health.  Physical training contains inherent risks including, but not limited to, muscle strains, tears, physical and bodily injury up to and including death.  This training program is not meant to provide medical advice; you should obtain medical advice from your private health care practitioner.  If you are unable to assume these risks then you should not engage in this training program.  No liability is assumed by Mountain Tactical Institute, Inc, its owners or employees, and you train at your own risk.  Mountain Tactical Institute makes no warranty, express or implied, of any kind in connection with this training program.

Required Equipment

What is the Required Equipment?
- Foam Roller
- 16-20" Box or Bench for Step Ups

Sample Training

Below is the entire first week of programming from the plan:


 Obj: Moderate Pace Trail Run

(1) Trail Run 5 miles at a Moderate Pace

"Moderate" = Comfortable but not easy

(2) Foam Roll Legs, Low Back

Run a hilly trail if possible. 

Obj: MTB Hill Repeats

Warm Up:
10 Minute MTB Ride at an easy pace

(1) 3 Rounds

  • 10 Minute MTB Hill Climb at Threshold Pace
  • Rest 5 Minutes between efforts

Threshold = Fastest possible

Obj: Run, MTB Brick

(1) Trail Run 5 miles at a Moderate Pace

(2) MTB 10 Miles, Moderate Pace

"Moderate" = Comfortable but not easy

(3) Foam Roll Legs, Low Back

Run, then MTB, back to back, if possible. If not, it's okay to split the training by running in the AM, MTB in the PM. 

Obj: Vertical Fitness


Warm Up:

(1) 8 Rounds

(2) 2 Rounds at a Moderate Pace

  • 250x Step Ups @ 16-20" Box or Bench
  • Run 400m

"Moderate" = Comfortable but Not Easy

(3) Foam Roll Legs, Low Back



(1) Hike up and down, 700 vertical feet, moderate pace

This can be on one long, steep hill, or laps on a shorter hill. Use Google Earth to determine elevation and make sure you meet the requirement.



Obj: Moderate Pace Trail Run

(1) Trail Run 10 miles at a Moderate Pace

"Moderate" = Comfortable but not easy

(2) Foam Roll Legs, Low Back


Trail run if possible.

Obj: MTB Ride

(1) 10-Mile, Single Track, Mountain Bike Ride, Moderate Pace

"Moderate" = Comfortable but not easy

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1)  Mission Direct

Gym numbers mean nothing. All that matters is mission performance. 

To this end, MTI’s fitness solutions and programming are not boxed in by convention, tradition, orthodoxy, public opinion or any other artificial constraint driven by inside or outside forces.

We begin with the raw fitness demands of the mission and build a fitness solution which directly prepares the athlete for those demands.


2) Fitness Solutions Built from the Ground Up

MTI’s programming is not “re-tread” bodybuilding, football, CrossFit, kettlebell, strength or general fitness programming. We’ve built our fitness programming for mountain and tactical athletes from the ground up.

The Fluid Periodization methodology we deploy to concurrently train multiple fitness attributes is completely original and has continued to evolve and improve over the years.

Our mid-section training methodology, Chassis Integrity, is also original, as is our endurance programming, 7 strength training progressions, tactical agility, and work capacity programming.

Our mountain sports pre-season training plans, tactical PFT, selection, school, course, and fitness improvement training plans across military, LE and Fire Rescue are MTI-developed, tested and athlete-proven.

Over the years hundreds of athletes and coaches have taken our advanced programming and unit fitness leader programming courses and MTI is widely recognized within the mountain and tactical professions and fitness media as a thought leader in fitness programming for military and tactical athletes.


3) The MTI Method

→ Research: MTI begins program design with extensive research of the fitness demands of the mission, sport or event, identifies the exercises and progressions which sport-specifically meet those demands, chose end-of-cycle goals, and program backward to design the training plan.

→ Deploy & Assess: We deploy the training plan “Lab Rats” at our Wyoming facility. Training session and cycle issues are identified and fixed as we work through the training plan. Post cycle we assess the programming’s effectiveness and efficiency. We keep the stuff that works, and fix or toss the stuff that doesn’t.

→ Publish & Assess Again: Plan is published for purchase as an individual training plan and made available to our subscribers. Feedback/results are assessed.

→ Iterate: We take what we learn from lab rats and athletes, re-visit, update and improve already published training plans. Several of our individual training plans are on their 4th or 5th version.


4) Mission-Direct Research

MTI exists to “Improve Mountain and Tactical Athletes mission performance and keep them safe.” To that end, we have developed a unique research methodology aimed at identifying real world areas of improvement and identifying immediately deployable mission-direct solutions. Click HERE to learn more about MTI’s Mission-Direct Research methodology, and Here to read about just few of our research efforts.

5) Field Proven

Our stuff works. Weekly we receive unsolicited reviews of our programming and testimonials to its effectiveness.


6) Programming Breadth

MTI’s library of 200+ sport-specific fitness plans for mountain and tactical athletes is unmatched. Resources range from specific programming for tactical special forces selections, to specific plans for climbing Rainier and Denali, to general fitness solutions such as running improvement, to post-rehab from injury.

Over the past decade, MTI has partnered with hundreds of athletes throughout their individual mountain and tactical careers, and provided fitness solutions as they face new mountain objectives, tactical schools, selections, PFTs and deployments, and came back from injury.


7) Worldwide Influence

Our work is not limited to US Athletes.

We’ve developed selection-specific training plans for Canadian, UK, Australian and German Special Forces Selections and worked with individual military personnel from Scandinavia, South, and Central America.

Canadian, Australian, UK and western European law enforcement and fire/rescue athletes have used MTI programming for mission-direct fitness.

On the mountain side, Alpinists from Japan to Slovakia have consulted with MTI and used MTI’s programming to prepare for mountain objectives.


8) Mission Performance beyond Fitness

MTI’s exists is to improve Mission Performance for mountain and tactical athletes and keep them safe. 

This focus on “mission direct” solutions, enhancements and improvements drives our work and research and extends beyond fitness solutions to include training, leadership, gear, team culture, and safety. 

Fitness is just one area of our work.

Our non-fitness research has included tactical cultures, combat uniforms, and gore-tex performance, and effect of stress on marksmanship.

Our work on defining what it means to be a Quiet Professional has had penetrating influence and driven healthy conversations with both mountain and tactical professionals.


9) Direct, Honest, Clear Answers

Since 2007 we’ve taken and answered dozens of questions weekly from mountain and tactical athletes. We’ve saved these individual Q&A’s and now thousands are archived on our site.

We’re not salesmen, and our answers are noted for their directness, honesty, and clarity. Our stuff isn’t for everyone. If we can help, we’ll let you know. If we can’t, we’ll let you know that, too.

– Rob Shaul, Founder


All of the Above is Backed Up By Our Promise: Our Stuff Works. Guaranteed.

Our Stuff Works. Guaranteed.

By Rob Shaul

I received notes frequently from athletes hesitant to purchase a subscription or training plans asking me to sell them on why they should make the purchase.

While I understand the question, I’m not a salesman – so I can’t put a hard sale on anyone for our programming.

I can tell them the process we go through to design our programming.

We begin with extensive research on the fitness demands of the event, identify the exercises and progressions which sport specifically meet those demands, chose end-of-cycle goals, and program backward to design the plan.

Then we test the cycle on ourselves and our lab rats here in Wyoming. We document, note what works and doesn’t work, re-assess, and make changes and modifications.

Then we publish the programming in the form of one of our plans or as part of our subscription daily training sessions for tactical and mountain athletes.
We don’t stop there – our daily programming is the “tip of the spear” for our programming evolution. We use these sessions to learn and make continuous improvement.

As we learn more and improve, we go back, and update the sport-specific training plans on the website. For example, we’re currently on Version 5 of our Ruck Based Selection Training Plan and Version 3 of our Dryland Ski Training Plan and Version 4 of our Big Game Back Country Hunting Training Plan.

We understand our programing isn’t cheap, but we believe it’s a great value. The $79 for the Ruck Based Selection Training Plan, and $39 for the Dryland Ski Training Plan reflect the, research, work, innovative theory, iteration, testing and feedback we’ve put in and received to make these plans effective.

All that matters for us is outside performance, and we feel strongly that Our Stuff Works in the real world.

Here’s our guarantee:

1) Individual Training Plan Purchase:
If you purchase an individual training plan, follow it as prescribed before your season/event/pft/selection, and if you don’t feel you were physically ready for your season/event/pft/selection, and/or didn’t see dramatic improvements in your early season performance, we’ll refund your money, no questions asked.

2) Athlete’s Subscription
If you purchase an Athletes’ Subscription, follow the training sessions as prescribed, and are not satisfied with the quality of the programming, notify us within 30 days of purchase, and we’ll refund your money, no questions asked.



Do you have any reviews or testimonials from athletes who have used your Athlete’s Subscription
Yes. Click HERE.

Is it true you guarantee your stuff works?
Yes. If you purchase an Athletes’ Subscription, follow the training sessions as prescribed, and are not satisfied with the quality of the programming, notify us within 30 days of purchase, and we’ll refund your money, no questions asked.

How is MTI programming different than CrossFit?
This is a common question. Read our answer HERE.

You have a lot of competitors. Why should I choose MTI?
MTI is driven to improve mountain and tactical athletes’ mission performance and keep them safe. This emphasis and focus on mission performance sets us apart. Read about more that sets us apart HERE.

If I purchase a plan or subscription, how do I access the programming?
All of our plans are online, accessible via username and password.
You can log in through our →Website  or Mobile App →IOS and Android.

Do you have downloadable .pdf’s of the training plans?
No. But you can print the programming, by week, from your browser. You access individual training plans online via a username and password.

Do you have a mobile app?
Yes, we do. Available for IOS and Android.

What is the difference between purchasing an individual training plan, packet of plans or an Athlete’s Subscription?

  • Plan – Like purchasing the DVD of the first Star Wars movie. You own it forever, including any updates we make to the plan.
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If I purchase an Athletes Subscription Can I cancel on my own, anytime?

Do I have to contact MTI to cancel or can I do it myself?
You can do it yourself. Instructions HERE.

If I purchase a subscription and have questions about where to start or what plans(s) to use for my goals, will you help?
Yes. We answer dozens of training questions from athletes weekly. Email

If you add new plans or update existing plans after I subscribe will I have access to them?
Yes. We are continuously adding training plans and packets (2-5/month) and updating plans. With your subscription you’ll have access to all new plans, new courses and plan updates.

What Equipment is Required?
Click the “Required Equipment” tab to find out what equipment is required for the specific plan you are interested in.

Where do I find unfamiliar exercises?
See our Exercise Library HERE. The Run and Ruck Calculators are listed as exercises.

What about nutrition?
See our Nutritional Guidelines HERE.

Can I see sample training?
Click the “Sample Training” tab to see the entire first week of programming.
You are encouraged to do it before purchasing.

What if I have more questions?

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