I think I moved to Build Phase too soon

I’m a 70-year-old rider with last tested ftp of 194. When I started Trainerroad I was riding 80-130 miles a week on Zwift. I signed up for Low-Level Base Phase training. I did well and completed it with no problem. But right after I finished it I caught a cold and was sick for 2 weeks. I didn’t do much riding but decided to continue into the Build Phase after I started to feel better. My ftp tested to 191 - 3watts lower. Anyway, I wasn’t able to keep up with the intensity they were asking for. I had to lower some workouts to 10% even. I think i was overtraining also. Today I’ve gone back to mid level Base. When would I know when to move up from Base Phase? Maybe I should stay in Base for sometime and do repeats?


I’m pretty sure the standard answer is to move to build when you’ve finished base. If your FTP is set correctly, you should be able to complete them. Did you complete Spencer, Mary Austin, Lamarck and Leconte? If so you’ve already proven you can handle the intensity of build.


The only workouts i see are Mary Austin -1 and Leconte
Oh I see Spencer+2 that was hard. I see my ftp was set at 194 and I had to reduce intensity 2% right off the bat and last two intervals was 5% maybe a little more reduced.

And how did you perform on those?

The easy answer is def repeat a base phase. If you’ve no set deadlines and even if you do, this may just be the best place to go again and hope for a better run of health into a build phase down down the road?

Always hope it never sounds patronising and if it goes I apologise but just want to say I think it’s brilliant that your doing that sort of miles at 70. I only say that because none of the 70 year olds in my life could dream of it. I hope to be that guy some day! :grin:

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Hat’s off to you: I want to be training at your level when I’m 70, and I suspect that’s true of a lot of people on the forum.

A 2 week break due to illness can be consequential, especially since the illness is probably still lingering beyond the 2 weeks. I had vacation after the end of Base that had me off the bike for 9 days – but otherwise healthy – and I still felt trepidation about the start of build. A fair amount of this is psychological, but that matters because if I feel I’m not making the right choices about training, it can compromise my consistency (which is the key to the whole thing).

It sounds like you already went back to base, and I can’t think of that being a bad thing. Consider doing just the last 3 weeks of Base 2 (including the recovery week) and then try starting Build again. You mentioned you’re now doing mid-volume Base, but keep in mind mid-volume Build is pretty tough, as it tacks on a fair amount of endurance work to the higher-intensity intervals. Consider doing low-volume Build, and extend the cool-down for 15-30 minutes on days that you feel up to it. This is also an excellent time to prioritize getting good sleep, if you’re not doing so already.

Good luck!


It looks like I maintained it…

that’s a good sign. Those two are two of the hardest workouts in all the plans. In fact, I’m not sure if I’ve experienced any as hard in general build.

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Hi, Bill!

I saw your Strava post (Bill and I are in the same local club) and I thought really hard about convincing you to keep your TR subscription, but I wasn’t really able to verbalize it.

Failing workouts are always demoralizing, but all of it needs to be taken into perspective – the workout you “failed” was a brutal one. I think it was three sets of three intervals of three minutes at VO2max, a lot like Spencer +2. I think Nate has gone on record saying that those types of workouts are some of the toughest, and everything has to be firing on all cylinders in order for you to nail them. Turning down the intensity, backpedaling, etc are all part of the game. You did the right thing by stopping and reevaluating, and it just really got to you.

Incidentally, I also jumped right into Build, both the first time I started (“oh, I’ve got plenty of riding this season, I don’t need Base”) and after this past season. Both times, I’ve found that there’s something about the TR Base phase (especially SSB MV 2) that uniquely prepares you for the rigors of Build.

Repeating SSB2 is a great idea, but the “problem” (if you can call it that) is that you typically don’t get much of an increase from Base. Being down 3% (which I would ignore, as that’s within margin of error) isn’t uncommon.

There’s also the sticky topic of being a 70 year old rider. It might simply be that you can increase your ability to perform at various levels, but your FTP might not increase much, I have no idea. I’m 44 and I don’t think that I have that much of an increase let in me, so I take the one or two percent increase every assessment as the best I can hope for.

I know you were really discouraged after those workouts, but don’t lose faith, sir. I’m curious to see what others will say about your situation.


Thanks. We have a 92 year old in our club. he’s one of the co-founders. I hope to be him someday. Cheers

I think I will start a Base II

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Hi John… Yes that Spencer +2 was disappointing. I just remembered that. That’s also a good point about ftp not keeping up with ability’s … that seems plausible…

I did cancel my account but then signed back up.

Well back to BB2

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Sleep yes… Sometimes a big problem for me when training hard. I’m going to give BB2 a start… I have Collins and Andrews to finish up with right now.

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My understanding of the affects of ageing on fitness is that your higher power zones are the first to show signs of plateau or decline. You start to lose your sprint, then your anaerobic ability, then some of your vo2. But your threshold can stay the same a lot longer, which is why you get guys in their 60s and older pumping out ridiculously fast 25-mile TT times here in Britain.

So I’d suggest that you modify a Build plan to suit the strengths of an older rider. Maybe choose Sustained Power Build, to avoid too many sprints and HIIT workouts. You could also swap one of the vo2 workouts for a hard threshold or sweetspot session. Then reduce the power on the remaining vo2 session to somewhere that pushes your aerobic system but is still at a level you can complete.


Have you heard of Joe Friel’s book Fast After 50? Starting in late 40s or early 50s performance starts to decline for 2 primary reasons:

  • loss of muscle, in particular type II fast twitch
  • decline in aerobic capacity (VO2max)

Here is some info on vo2max work: https://www.trainingpeaks.com/blog/fast-after-50-high-intensity-interval-training-and-the-aging-athlete/

Here is another good one: https://joefrielsblog.com/aging-high-intensity-training/

A few nuggets:

“At first such a workout may only be done once in a week, but over time the number
of such weekly sessions may be increased to two. It’s uncommon for senior
athletes to be capable of doing more than two in a week. I’ve coached some who
can but they are rare and more likely in their 50s rather than their 70s.”


“The older you are, the less dense your training should probably be. A 50-year-old can typically handle more density than a 70-year-old. The same goes for dose.”

A few thoughts for consideration:

  • realize workouts you’ll find in apps and on the Internet are designed for younger riders
  • therefore you will likely need to modify the plan and individual workouts
  • if you are uncomfortable modifying plans and workouts then consider hiring a coach
  • you may only be able to handle one high intensity session a week
  • recover day(s) after high intensity sessions are important
  • instead of doing 3 sets of 6x1-min vo2max (e.g. Bluebell), start with 1 set and build up over time (more sets, and then longer intervals)
  • vo2 work is highly individual, so for something like Bluebell (3 sets of 6x1-min) you may need to reduce intensity from 120% to something lower, or increase intensity

I’m about two decades behind you and find weekly vo2max work and weekly strength training to be challenging but necessary. TrainerRoad plans have a lot of intensity, don’t be afraid to modify the weekly plan and individual workouts. Get help if you are uncomfortable. Hope that helps.


As a rider of advancing years myself, kudos sir for what you have achieved. There’s some brutal workouts there.

Some good advice above. Maybe give some consideration to changing from a 3 weeks on, 1 off routine to a 2 on, 1 off approach. Something Chad has mentioned several times ref us more ‘experienced’ riders

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Thanks… Been given a lot of info. I’ll have to accept the fact I’ll be making changes to the workouts and using a lower intensity also.

Seriously nothing wrong with that, personally I find some of the TR workouts too advanced for my masters 55+ body (in particular because I don’t have a decade of training under my belt). One of the coaching websites I look at recently had a blog post on doing simple workouts like 2 sets of 5x1-min (full gas) - and that wasn’t targeted at masters+ athletes.

For example yesterday I did a set of 5x1-min vo2 intervals, 5-min rest, and then a set of 4x1-min vo2 intervals.

And my Garmin Edge 530 gave me a high five:

Quality workout with fewer sets and intervals versus SSB-2’s Bluebell but at higher power. Declared victory :fist_right:t3: :fist_left:t3: and called it a session.


Im 52 and new to structured training and Ive been surprised how much fatigue you build and carry forward. Whilst I’m in the penultimate week of SSBMV2 this will be the second time I’ve completed SSBMV1 & 2 as my A event was a distance off and the plan builder came out which made me revisit my strategy which meant I ended up doing SSBMV1&2 back to back.

I struggled the first time and took and extra recovery week in both 1&2. FTP bumps were modest, 154, 190, 194 to 196 but I used three different trainers over this period, Flux, Neo and Flux S so its more about a broader picture as FTP in my case can’t be evaluated objectively.

I will have completed the second set of SSBMV1&2 without needing an additional rest week which I’m really pleased about.

I’m expecting build to be even more demanding on my body so I’ll be increasing my sleep and quality and volume of nutrition as I’m currently running a daily deficit of 500 calories.

What Im trying to say is its a marathon not a sprint, listen to your body and ease off, if needed. My overarching goals have always been to avoid illness and injury to maximise my time on my bike.

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You were ready for Build before you even started TR.

TR’s Sweet Spot Base is an excellent primer for their Build plans, and a great way for folks new to indoor training to get used to being indoors. Also good for folks new to TR to get used to their format and their structure. But we shouldn’t forget that it’s still a base plan.

Base fitness doesn’t disappear from a minor illness. You’re ready for Build. The reason why you struggled is because Build intensity is hard. There’s really no way around that.

My opinion is that if you’re not struggling at least a little bit with Build, you’re not going to see significant gains. If you’re having to turn the intensity down, that can actually be a good thing. It adds clarity to the goals you have in front of you.

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More kudos for sticking at it :+1: :clap:

I’m a decade behind you and am at the end of my second week on Sustained Power Build LV so some thoughts on that. Bashful +1 was the first workout in the whole of Sweet Spot Base LV 1 & 2 and SPB that I failed to complete in the required manner. SPB is a definite step up from SSB, I’d finish most of the workouts in SSB relatively fresh but I’m getting blurred vision towards the end of things in Build. No great FTP increase either, just a couple of Watts.

As @martinheadon says, you lose the high end first and that’s what I found in that workout or rather it wasn’t that I couldn’t match the target power but the recovery intervals were too short for me to do so. I was just about OK up until the last block, did three of the bursts then decided if I did the next one there was no way to complete the workout so I skipped it and then the sixth.

There was a thread a while back about adjusting workouts for the older rider. Depending on how you recover I’d maybe look at VO2 workouts that were something like an even split between effort and recovery rather than the 2:1 of Bashful +1 and similar. As you know, getting older starts to mean we need more recovery, have a search through the workout library for similar workouts that have longer recovery periods, there’s no rule to say you have to do those specified.

Things should be hard but they shouldn’t be demoralising, that defeats the purpose of a training plan.

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