All around rider, no race dates, which speciality phase?

I’m relatively new to training, going into my first specialty phase after completing Sweet Spot Base 1 & 2 Low Volume, followed by the General Build Low Volume, and am unsure on which speciality phase fits my needs best.

I ride road and mountain bikes 50 / 50, and do not race / have a specific date to train for. I’ve been training to stay in shape and because its fun to see fitness improve, and makes riding more fun in general.

The type of rides I generally like to do time permitting, are pushing the distance / time (for me) as opposed to getting out for a short hammerfest, however I do still like to incorporate short rides that will go hammer a climb. Road rides in the 2-5 hour range, and mountain bike rides anywhere from 1.5 - 4 aswell. I like the idea of working my training towards more adventure / epic rides, or just easier to hold a higher pace with the longer rides I do.

The two specialty phases I was looking at are the Century Road Plan, or the Cross-Country Marathon plan.

Does one make more sense than the other? Or should I be looking at a different plan alltogether? It seems like the XC plan would be good for mountain biking having more higher ftp interval work, but the Century plan would help hold higher wattages on the flats etc. while road riding. I like both aspects and know I’ll need to compromise on one side or the other. Thanks for any input.

I’m a non-racer who has followed the base-build-speciality cycle over the previous three winters. Personally, I didn’t feel that I got much out of the speciality phases and I’ve now dropped it and plan on simply repeating a base-build cycle over and over again (split up with some unstructured ‘just for fun’ outdoor riding in between repeats). This fits in with my aim of cycling to build fitness rather than aiming to peak for a particular event.

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I agree with this approach. Without a target to peak for, a specialty plan isn’t going to do anymore for your fitness. The only thing that a specialty plan could do is provide you with some variety of workouts. I would have a look at each of the plans and pick a LV one that has workouts you think look interesting to fill in for some structure.

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Another vote for repeating base-build. BUT if you want to shake things up, I’d consider XC Marathon. It hits everything in such a way that you’ll be ready for anything. My eyes were opened to it, and I may do XCM specialty leading into a September Century just because the Century plan looks a little boring and I like to go hard sometimes.

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Thanks for the replies. I do like the idea of dropping back to base phase for awhile. The reason I wasn’t considering this option was I came across a quote from a TrainerRoad Team member in another thread that was recommending:

“The best way to continue growing your fitness without overextending yourself is through the use of a Re-Build Phase. This means that you will complete the full Base>Build>Specialty progression, and then move onto another Build>Specialty sequence of your choosing.”

This was in response to someone who was thinking of doing back to back build phases, but also wasn’t working around a target date, just wanted to increase FTP / fitness.

If I was returning to base, would it be recommended to do the full 6 weeks of both 1 & 2?

Depending on your background in training, there’s no reason why you can’t do Base-Build-Base-Build. I don’t want to speak for coach Chad, but I believe the concern is more that if you do Base-Build-Build-Build or follow plans with no reduction in volume, you’re eventually going to burnout. The Specialty plans build in a reduction in volume via weeks 7 and 8 where you’re notionally tapering for an event. If you look at the TSS requirements of, specifically, SSB1 vs. the Build plans, SSB1 is itself quite a reduction in volume from a Build.

Speaking from personal experience, I did SSB1/2 -> Sustained Power Build earlier this year. I raised my FTP about 15%, but was struggling to consolidate those gains and feel comfortable training at my new, higher FTP. I was failing a lot of the harder build workouts. I decided to go back and re-start base at the higher FTP, and by the end of my base period, I was increasing intensity on some of the more difficult workouts (Spencer +2, McAdie +1, etc.). I now feel like I can legitimately train at the higher FTP setting. We’ll see if I’ve raised FTP at all in my ramp test in a couple of days, but I’m living proof that Base-Build-Base works. I would recommend restarting SSB1 and doing both Base phases.

All that said, if this is your first foray into structured training, you may think about taking a little bit of downtime before restarting the cycle, either off the bike or just a week or two of unstructured work. This is mostly for the mental break before committing to another 20 weeks.

That’s my nickel!

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