Off-Season Peak? - Plan Builder

I have a question regarding plan builder and specialty phase.

For the 2020 season I really have no big goal. I plan to do structured training (as I have done with TR for many years now), and maybe do some races (both road and XC) just for fun. I had a big goal last year (Alpenbrevet) that I couldn’t do due to illness, so I thought it would be mentally refreshing to have a season without any BIG goals. That said, I have an A-race that I would like to perform well in, but it’s more of a social experience than everything else. I’m also going to Lake Como for 5 days of cycling with some friends. So basically I have two main events:

Como (21-25 May) - “B race”
140 km Gravel Race (15th August) - A-race

Before Plan Builder was launched I built my own plan with extra focus on base. Starting mid October and ending with my A- race in August my plan was as below. It should be noted that I have been focusing on Gran Fondos, thus Sustained Power, over the last years so I thought I’d use this year to focus more on shorter intervals as they are my weakness.

Part 1 of SPBLV
Specialty (probably XC Marathon as the gravel course is fairly flat [it’s in Denmark…], but have some short punchy climbs and quick turns)

So, for sake of “quality checking” my own plan played around with Plan Builder. And while I can’t change what I have done I thought I could tweak my plan based on the results.

To my surprise it suggests a specialty phase ending mid-April. I thought specialty phase was to peak my fitness. And as I see it, there is no reason for me to peak a month before my Como trip. I heard Chad stating on the podcast that specialty phase focused on extending the period you can utilize your fitness (or something like that). Basically it does not evolve FTP, but extends the time you could stay “in zone”. What zone(s) will of course be dependent of what specialty you choose.

Sorry for the long post, but I thought this required some substance…

FYI I’m 37 with FTP of around 4W/kg at peak fitness.

If you entered Como Into the plane builder as a B race then it will simply train through it with maybe a day or two off before hand. This is because you have told it that your big goal is the gravel race in August. Maybe play around with it and enter Como as an A event if you want to also peak for that.

I highly recommend peaking for the Sormano. That thing kicked my ass

That was my plan from the beginning, so I’m inline with the Plan Builder on that point.

Maybe my question drowned in all the words. I’m really questioning why PB lets me peak in April. I really don’t understand the logic.

Yeah, that thing looks brutal. And it “attacks” my weak points: low cadence and muscular pedaling. I’m more of a “sustained spinner…”
Based on the feedback I get I might add a specialty prior to Como and do a new Build/Specialty for the gravel race. Still got 3 weeks of SSBII before I have to decide…

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I may be wrong, but I think TR’s philosophy is that if you have a ton of extra time before your A event then a mid season peak can be beneficial. This is for multiple reasons. It gives you a chance to change up the stimulus and experience those more race pace intervals. It also gives you a chance to taper down and to reset both physically and mentally before your final push into your A event so that you don’t burn out by just doing Base/Build/Base/Build/… until your event.