Your season is off and running, you’ve prepared diligently and completed your early-peak event and your next one is in the horizon. But, you find yourself with a significant gap between peak events and you aren’t sure how to spend that time.
This is a common situation facing athletes with a long season, and it’s a common topic discussed between TrainerRoad athletes and our coaching staff. So, here are a few suggestions to help you through this awkward time of your season.
Maintain Peak Fitness: 1-3 Weeks Between Peaks
One option is to try to maintain your peak fitness by repeating the taper weeks from your 8-week Specialty block. This is especially useful for athletes who only have a short gap between important events, around 1-3 weeks.
In this scenario, you’ve completed all eight weeks of your Specialty block leading up to an important event, but another event or series of events is only a few weeks out. Here’s how to prepare in this sort of situation. By repeating the seventh or eighth week of your current Specialty block for two or three weeks, your body should be able to maintain fitness by keeping the volume relatively low while still maintaining the same intensity.
You can choose to repeat the seventh week instead of repeating the eighth week if your body can handle the extra stress; however, if you’re just looking to stay sharp, repeating the eighth week will do the trick without placing too much stress on your body.
Example: A rider looking to hold his peak fitness for three weeks between the end of his Specialty block and his next important event might repeat Week 7 twice before moving on to Week 8 for the remaining weeks until his event.
You’ll see all of this in action next season when we introduce new Race Plans designed for situations just like this.
Partial-Specialty Block Repeat: 4-7 Weeks Between Peaks
At times, you may find yourself with a little too much time to just maintain your fitness, but not quite enough to complete another Build block on top of a full Specialty block. Here’s what we recommend.
If your training gap is between four and seven weeks, try repeating a portion of the appropriate Specialty block. Start with a recovery week, then follow the latter portion of your Specialty Block so the final week of your plan coincides with your next peak. Warning: some creativity may be required here.
Example 1: A cross-country racer who has four weeks until her next event could take an easy week and then repeat Week 5-7 of the Cross-Country Olympic block — thereby reducing the taper to a single week. Or, she could repeat Week 6-8 of the Cross-Country Olympic block if she has room for a longer taper.
Example 2 (a trickier situation): A sprint triathlete with seven weeks before his next race can perform a recovery week and then dive into Week 2-8 of the Sprint Distance Triathlon block, skipping the seventh week and tapering with the eighth week instead.
ReBuild: 8-12 Weeks Between Peaks
For riders who don’t need as severe of a reduction in intensity and for those with substantial room for improvement, a 5-week “ReBuild” is a good, short-term training solution to fill the void between Specialty blocks.
A good example of this is a rider with a long gap of roughly 8-12 weeks between events. In this case, the rider would rebuild for five weeks then jump into the appropriate Specialty block — either eight weeks or four weeks — and absorb those 4-6 weeks without compromising any fitness, and, potentially expanding their muscle endurance even further.
Until formal ReBuild blocks are available next season, all you have to do is give yourself a very easy week then repeat half of the appropriate Build block. Complete the first half if you need an easy break, and complete the latter half if you can handle a higher workload leading into your next Specialty block.
Example: One easy week (all rides <65% FTP) followed by the latter four weeks of Sustained Power Build, followed by a Climbing Road Race block.
This allows a recovery week where nothing is too stressful followed by three weeks of increasing stress. Follow this with that Build’s recovery week to leave you poised to jump into your 8-week Specialty block and ready to go.
Just Feeling Burnt: 2-4 Week Base-Training Recharge
If you find yourself in this situation, it’s rarely a bad idea to take it a little easier and steer away from the high-intensity interval training you find in the Build and Specialty phases. One way to recharge is by adding some biding time between training blocks by adding an Endurance block consisting of a lower intensity. Doing so is not only beneficial for your body but also your mental fitness — allowing you to take a much-needed mental and physical refresher.
Doing so is actually pretty simple. You can maintain your training schedule and your volume so that you’re riding just as frequently and just as long, just with a lower intensity. The key difference in doing so is that your intensity drops into the Endurance/Tempo zone — anywhere from 60-90% FTP.
During this Endurance phase, keep in mind that you’ll be increasing the volume of your training, so keep track of your weekly TSS to make sure it isn’t increasing. If you find your weekly TSS going up, simply decrease the intensity of your rides.
For instance, if your last Build block elevated your training load to 450 TSS over the course of eight weeks, it’s not a great idea to jump into a Post-Specialty endurance block with a TSS much higher than that. However, this depends on your training history and fitness as well as the duration of your Endurance block. A one-week Endurance block might allow greater than 450 TSS, while a four-week endurance block should keep things well under 450 TSS.
Your best bets here are the Traditional Base I, II & III blocks depending on which one offers the time:intensity ratio that best suits your needs.
Example: A rider who has 10 hours/week for two weeks to dedicate to a weekly stress goal of roughly 500 TSS. The Traditional Base – High Volume II block — weeks one and two — could be inserted before starting eight weeks of the Half-Distance Triathlon block.
Until the new Race and ReBuild blocks are ready to go come next season, these options will fill any voids you find yourself in between key events — all while keeping you sharp, motivated and ready to perform at your highest fitness levels.