Modifying Sweet Spot Base Low Volume II: adding a hard ride and extending the plan to complete all workouts while staying at 3 rides per week

I’m looking for some advice on how to modify a TR plan…

I’m shortly going to start Sweet Spot Base Low Volume II and am running into the “problem” of wanting to join a 75mins weekly drop ride (lots of short hard hills) but only being able to fit 3 bike workouts into my week. As with everyone else, I no longer have any events this summer, so my aim is to slowly but surely build my base fitness, while enjoying riding outside with friends. I plan to start more event-focussed training towards the end of the year (half-distance triathlon).

Looking through the forum and previous podcasts, it seems like the advice for fitting in a hard group ride is either to add it into the week in addition to the planned workouts (assuming you can cope with the increased training stress; this isn’t currently an option for me), or do the ride in place of a planned workout. Since I would like to complete the plan as closely as possible (and have no events in my calendar), my proposed alternative would be to modify the plan by inserting the drop ride in place of a scheduled workout and pushing the whole plan back from that point each time. So my modified plan would end up looking like:

Week 1- ride, workout 1, workout 2 (instead of workouts 1-3).

Week 2- ride, workout 3, workout 4 (instead of workouts 4-6).

Week 3- ride, workout 5, workout 6 (instead of workouts 7-9).

…etc.

With this modification, the plan would take 9 weeks to complete instead of 6, but I would complete all the workouts.

My question is: what would be the “cost” (in terms of training benefit) to following the above modification compared to (a) completing the plan as it is intended and ditching the ride (not something I plan to do, but interested to know the answer); and (b) simply doing the ride in place of one of the workouts (so in total only doing two thirds of the prescribed workouts)? The drop ride is pretty hard (~120 tss over 75 hilly minutes), but it won’t be as structured as a workout and is not sweet spot focused.

One problem I can foresee with my modification is that this is a long block with no scheduled rest, so I could insert a rest week and push everything back accordingly.

Final caveat/consideration: I also run 3-4 times a week and swim about twice a week (mostly easy stuff that doesn’t compromise my TR workouts), hence why I can’t fit more bike workouts in and recovery time is a potential issue.

I’m keen to hear some thoughts on this! Thanks a lot for any input.

Hm. It’s an interesting idea, but I don’t understand the reasoning. If you’re doing an intense drop ride at ~100tss, drop your Saturday workout and call it good. What would be the benefit, other than simple compliance rate, of doing it this way?

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Use the olympic LV plan now. 2 workouts/week and add as much as you like outdoors.

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That’s basically what I’m wondering! The workouts on the plan seem mostly focussed around extending ability to ride at or near FTP, while the ride tends to be more of a high intensity interval workout, with hard efforts on hills but then recoveries while sitting on, which doesn’t seem to line up with the intent of the SSB plans. So basically I’m wondering is there any training benefit to my proposed modification, as opposed to doing what you suggest.

Hm. If you look at the Saturday 90 minute rides for LV, most of those are threshold and over/under sessions. If you’re riding in a chain gang and trading pulls, that’s a pretty good replacement for over/unders, and depending on the length of the hills, you could ride those at threshold (up to, say, 105-110%) and it would seem that’s a good slot in for the muscular endurance work.

I’m not saying it’s a bad plan, just not sure it’s necessary. As you say, you have no A event in sight and you’ve got loads of time, so I don’t see any harm in doing it the way you’ve planned.

But if you stick to two TR rides+your group ride, that’s six weeks, leaving you 4 extra weeks to do a VO2 block, or doing the first four weeks of build before getting back on “plan.” I think that would tend to give you greater gains than 10 weeks of a modified SSB plan.

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OK, that makes a lot sense, and thanks for outlining a couple of alternatives. I suppose there is also the added element of (dare I say it!) boredom to consider: trying to stick rigidly to a plan for 10 weeks with no end goal in sight might end up becoming a bit of a drag (with potential negative consequences), whereas switching it up after 6 weeks like you outline could be a welcome change - especially if it has the potential for greater gains.

Thanks a lot for helping me think this through.

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It’s an interesting idea but changing how the weekly workouts are grouped doesn’t really align well with following the intended plan.

Each week is progressive, hence the suggestion to replace your outdoor ride for another workout. It actually fits quite well if you know it will be a hard ride which is more like a workout than an aimless group ride.

Glad to be of help!