So I’ve previously completed the high volume Sweetspot training plans, but coming into them from a relatively low fitness level after a few weeks or months of quite unstructured training following races or holidays. FTP score in the initial tests was therefore relatively low for me, I was making significant FTP gains during the plans and was able to complete them with few or no skipped or reduced workouts.
Recently attempted them but coming in with a much higher fitness level (one week after racing a 70.3 where I PRed). Starting FTP was close to my all time high, and therefore much less scope for significant improvement, though I’d also decided to have a pure cycling focus so wasn’t doing any run or swim training which I figured would help with recovery. First couple of weeks were OK, but then things got tougher and tougher, I just about struggled through week 5 (should have dialled it down with hindsight), recovery week I was wiped out and took things very easy. I stubbornly put Sweetspot II on the calendar anyway, but bombed out on the ramp test very early (unheard of for me), and wisely decided at that point to call it a day and train by feel for a few weeks until things picked up again (which they now have).
Anyway, to cut a long story short it got me thinking about how much improvement is “baked in” to the TR plans? Obviously there is an expectation that completing a plan will lead to improvements in whatever power zone(s) the plan is targeting. Does that mean that effectively a certain level of improvement is “expected” and it becomes difficult or impossible to complete the plan if you’re improving at a lower rate than expected for whatever reason? E.g. if you start a plan with an FTP of X, do you basically need a FTP of X+3% to get through the final week of it? If so, what would be the best approach if you’re coming into a plan knowing that you’re already at a high level and only likely to get incremental improvements? Manually set FTP to be a bit lower than tested at the start? Tweak the plan by replacing a few workouts to give a smaller week-to-week increase in TSS? I’m not always great at cutting back a plan once I’m into it, would much rather have a more conservative plan to start out and then turn it up a notch if I’m feeling good than have an over-ambitious plan and have to skip or reduce sessions.
For context, I’m 99% sure that I was fully recovered from the 70.3 before starting the plan. Had a 10 day taper before and felt great and was bouncing off the walls the week after the race. I also use HRV to monitor freshness/recovery, and my HRV values corroborated how I felt. I also don’t think there was any underlying illness or other issue during SS1 plan - I simply saw a gradual decline in HRV values in the latter weeks which would be consistent with too high a workload and accumulating fatigue that I wasn’t recovering from. Recovery after I quit SS2 was also a steady improvement consistent with just gradually coming back out of a bit of a training hole.