Optimal Plan Builder Plan Length?

I am wrapping up a one year long plan that I made with plan builder last year. The last 12 weeks had a lot of VO2max and Threshold work (Rolling Road Race, low volume).

I noticed Fascat advertises much shorter plans. Is there an optimal length plan to select from plan builder, assuming I am not preparing for a specific event?

I think the plan builder defaults are:

Base - 12 weeks
Build - 8 weeks
Specialty - 8 weeks

So 28 weeks. If you have more time, it’ll usually give you more base.

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Most of the fascat plans are 6 weeks as they are specialty plans to be used AFTER a base building plan. They also offer a new 16 week sweetspot base building plan.

Plan builder uses what you select for experience to decide on what else to give you. Cannot upload a screenshot for some reason, but this is what info you are given as you choose your experience in Plan Builder

What is your level of experience with interval training?

Your experience with interval training helps determine when to shorten or lengthen training blocks for your goal event.

** Beginner/Intermediate - More Base is most beneficial*
** Advanced - More Build Phase training will make you faster*
** Expert - More time in the Specialty Phase will make you race ready*

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What you add is generally true but from all I have seen, only applies when you have less than the 28 week period that would cover a “regular” TR plan with all 3 phases at full length.

The PB adjustments based upon “Experience” are applied when there is insufficient time for the full 28 weeks schedule. It aims to focus on what might make the most sense in those calendar constrained periods.

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Not sure that is always true - unless I misunderstand how it set up my plan. When setting up my current plan which is 36 weeks week till my A race selecting Beginner it added additional base phase and shortened speciality. By selected Advanced I was able to have it add a 2nd build phase and have a full speciality plan before it

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Yeah, I guess that’s likely true. I did a quick sample with extended time and it seems to adjust in that shortened “filler” part of the plan vs the latter “full” plan. So it seems to impact the final results, but with any plan exceeding 28 weeks, I’d question how much it really matters compared to the main plan after the fact.

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I played around a bit with plan builder when setting up my plan for 2023. Switching between advanced and experienced gave differences in both order of phases and type.

Advanced: Base1>Base2>Build>Base2>Specialty
Expert: Base1>Build(6 wks)>Base2>Build>Specialty

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If you don’t have a target event, should you even do a Specialty phase? Or would you be better off sticking with Base and Build phases?

I guess that partly depends on which build and specialty you do. Would I want to go a whole season with hitting any anaerobic repeats? Probably not, even if they weren’t a major focus of my training. If I did general build, I’d be OK. If I did sustained power build, not so much.

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@Buckethead is right! Your experience with interval training helps determine where Plan Builder should add or subtract training weeks when you have more or less time to complete an entire training progression.

You might find this article helpful How to: Plan Builder For Non-Racers.

In addition to Plan Builder, we have Individual Training Phases that you can add to your Plan at any time. We have Base, Build, and Specialty phases. Depending on the specific training phase, each block can range from 4 to 12 weeks. In addition, we have Experimental Polarised Plans. The Experimental Polarised Plans that you will find in TrainerRoad are based on data that we continue to collect as we strive to constantly improve.

It can still be a good idea to go through a Specialty Phase even if you don’t have races because the Specialty phase gives you a novel stimulus and typically lowers training load, allowing your body to build on top of previous adaptations.

I’d be happy to help you figure out which Plan or training phase makes the most sense given your individual situation. Shoot me a DM if you’d like to bounce ideas around!