This may seem self indulgent, and in some ways it is, but I thought it might be useful to post how my first ever structured training has gone. Mostly because it could be beneficial and helpful to others going through similar issues.
My history is racing crits in the UK. I have an excellent recovery after short power bursts and can burn through many matches but I’ve always struggled for longer duration sustainable power. So for me, a TT is a nightmare. I started the SSMVBI mid December with an FTP of 266w and weighing roughly 79kg.
1st Ramp Test and SSMVB1
Rubbish ramp test. Gave me an estimated FTP in the 245w range so I promptly ignored this!
I subsequently launched into the first Sweetspot MV base plan and found the first few weeks almost too easy and got lulled into a false sense of security. I even included some longer outdoor rides to supplement what I thought was a shortfall in the training load. By week 4, I was feeling great. The legs were feeling super strong and the intensity did ramp up in the TR plan. Palisade OU (1 min under/2 mins over) felt like a real jolt that I wasn’t expecting. I managed to complete it but it felt like the intensity ramped up out of nowhere. The last week before the recovery week was tough but enjoyable. It convinced me to stick with things and progress to Sweetspot MV Base II.
2nd Ramp Test and SSMVB2
Slightly less rubbish ramp test (still disappointing) and still underestimated my FTP compared to everything I had completed in SSMVB1 so I stuck with the 266w to base my training around.
SSMVB2 felt tougher but manageable. There are a lot of Pettits but you learn to like these as the low intensity is a nice change. I was still throwing in the odd ride outdoors with friends and came a cropper midway through. I pushed too hard one week and became slightly sick. Not bad enough to stop training at sweetspot levels but a good reminder that I needed to back things off a bit and focus on completing the plan. The only workouts I could not fully complete were the VO2 max intervals where I would come unstuck 20-30 seconds from the end of the last two intervals. I posted on here and got some great feedback and support which was very encouraging. My legs were feeling great but my heart couldn’t cope just yet - but that only serves as a useful indicator of what I need to work on later.
The last week and a half is brutal. I was literally counting down the workouts until it was complete. If Kaiser and the VO2 max failures were head-scratching moments, they never took much out of me. Leconte and Mary Austin felt like some of the toughest rides I’ve ever done but I was delighted to fully complete them. I knew these rides were my nemesis; long drawn out efforts. But the plan was awesome in making sure I built into them. There was nothing I hadn’t done before in the plan but the recovery valleys were shorter. The TR plans basically gave me the confidence to go into them in a positive frame of mind because I had already done similar efforts earlier, just in shorter durations with longer recovery times.
It’s worth noting that despite riding regularly (5-6 days a week), I actually gained weight throughout both base phases and ballooned up to 82kg. I was never concerned as I feel that my legs feel stronger and possibly have a bit more definition. I was constantly hungry but since I was not racing and a long way from my season, this was not a major concern. I usually race around April/May time and will generally be 73-75kg.
I am now one week into my General Build plan. I am so pleased with the numbers I was hitting and the duration I was hitting them for that I don’t want to waste what I started. My ramp test was significantly better and I pretty confident I can base this plan around 272w. I feel, if pushed, I could do an FTP test (not a ramp test) and get to mid 270s but it’s definitely heading in the right direction.
I am so pleased I started the Base plan. It wasn’t as straightforward as I thought it would be and certainly not something to take lightly. Apologies that this is long winded but maybe one or two of you are interested if considering your options. I have largely ignored the much debated ramp test and would have adjusted my FTP manually if I was failing the workouts. The tests are indicators, nothing more in my eyes. I don’t look at them as “make or break”, the important stuff is the training and I try not to lose focus on that.