Should I bother with a Specialty Phase if I don't have an A race?

2018 was my first road season and I raced a lot, usually 2-3 times a week plus a hard group ride. My intention for 2019 is to do the same, race 2-3 times a week, possibly more if I do a mtb series. I don’t have a single race picked out as an A race, instead I want to be strong across the whole season, from late April to early September.

To this end I’m doing the high volume sweet spot base 1 and will follow it with hv ssb2 then a high volume general build. The build phase ends in late April, right around when races and group rides start up. I could choose a specialty phase (either rolling road race or crit) but I have no desire or need do the taper in the last 2 weeks.

My thought is that I’ll deload for a week then try to repeat the build phase mixed with some races and outdoor rides. Then I can race into specific sharpness in the late spring/early summer as my racing load increases, while also mixing in some specific workouts.

Feel free to snoop my profile, it should be public. FWIW I’ve been told I’m an allrounder, I’m a bigger dude but have had success in hilly and flat races. The weakness I’d like to work on this season is repeatability of anaerobic efforts, I had a great threshold and could diesel for ages and also had a good sprint, but if I had to go deep too frequently I’d pop.

That’s basically what the specialty plans works on.


Yup, using the appropriate one (like Crit plan) is one way to get that.

Also, you might consider doing the Short Power Build instead of General, as it places more emphasis on the short and hard efforts.


You don’t have an A race, but you probably have an ‘A’ period. You want your training set up so that you start in a good position, get stronger, and don’t burn out before September.

@Jonathan wrote a blog post that sort of skirts around this a few years ago here:

Most athletes will come into a series hoping to be on peak form, and over time, their performances will diminish. Recognizing that and strategically selecting a grouping of races that are later in the series can prove very beneficial. You’ll come in with good form while others are at their peak, and as their performance begins to steeply decline, you will just be coming into peak form.

You can’t perform equally well at every race, and your fitness will have an ebb and flow whether you want it to or not - so in my opinion a specialty phase is probably warranted. An almost 5-month window is big enough to peak early, then follow it up with another 8-week build and 8-week specialty plan to peak again toward the end of the season. Another option would be to aim for finishing a build plan just as you start the racing season, so you have some fitness but aren’t peaking, and then do a specialty plan to aim for a peak when others might be fading in late June; and then follow it up with a second specialty plan to keep training volume a little lower and drag the peak out through the end of the season.

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