Specialty now or back to base? Training benefit v burnout for event in 4-5months

I have a question that I would really appreciate some guidance with… I am coming to the end of a build phase in a couple of weeks, and am now debating whether to continue to specialty as originally planned, or go back to base (specifically SSBII). This is partly because of the current situation in the UK (all TTs cancelled) and also to continue training for hopefully some late season hill climbs (August-October, if they go ahead). I am not sure on the best approach based on what would be the most effective for achieving a peak around this time, and also not adding too much stress so that I don’t burn out by then.

For context, I started using TR in December with SSBI & II, then sustained power build, the plan was to then continue to specialty 40k TT (I would have been doing TTs from March-June), then taking a recovery week (or more if needed) then going back to build but this time short power build for the hill climb season later in the year, followed by gravity specialty (I had seen this suggested as the best specialty for the UK hill climb season). This would time perfectly with the events, selecting my ‘A race’ for October. This cycle of base/build/specialty/build/specialty is what is recommended by plan builder, however it now feels a little pointless to go into a TT specialty plan when I am very unlikely to be able to race any TTs any time soon (all definitely cancelled until end of June so far, and after that I want to focus on hill climbs).

I thought about going back to SSBII (not I, as that would add too much time… I would only just start build at the end of July, when hopefully there will be some hill climbs from August onwards), but I don’t know if this would be actually adding more stress than just doing a specialty, or if it would be a good decision to help me build to a higher peak later, or if it would even mean a drop in fitness. I remember hearing or reading that specialty aims for more ‘freshness’ so does that mean it’s less fatiguing than SSBII? Or as it is aiming to bring you to a peak would that actually increase my chance of burnout? I suppose I am wondering, is there a benefit to one over the other, in terms of fitness gains and increase in FTP? I have heard a lot of talk of now being a good time to go back to base, so I am wondering if I would see some benefit from this rather than specialty.

My other option is to continue with specialty, in which case I suppose I could continue with the TT specialty, hoping that in some way that will help for when I eventually go back to TTs (these are important to me, they were more of a goal this year than the hill climbs until COVID-19, so they are still a long term goal for 2021). Or maybe I could just pick a specialty plan that looks interesting to follow, or to work on something a bit different. I am not sure if I really want to do the gravity specialty plan now, and then repeat again in not very long… I would be worried about potential burnout/motivation and also it seems at odds with just completing sustained power. Any thoughts or advice would be very well received!



I would plan on there being exactly zero races this year. With that in mind, head over to the handy Plan Builder, it should give you a pretty decent idea of how to proceed into next year.

If you don’t want to sit on the trainer for the next 12 months, perhaps give some thought to taking some time off the bike & doing other activities which will serve you well when you get back on the bike - core work, body weight exercises, yoga, etc.

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I’m in the same boat and am finishing build this week. I used plan builder targeting an event in Sept and it put me right back into SSB2 followed by another build.

Of course the event in Sept might not happen either, but I’ve got plenty of time to figure that out after SSB2 and my next build.

Lot’s more discussion on the topic in the threads below:


this right here! something of importance to you will keep you motivated. plus, kill two birds with one stone, improving for TT and hill climbing, even though sometimes one in the same.

I wouldn’t go back to base, but that’s just me! Posting a follow up video to this one later today, where I discuss what to do even if we DON’T race at all this year!

Good luck!


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“I bet we’re back to racing within 8 weeks”

I feel like you may be underestimating the consequences of Covid-19. I don’t see any racing coming back before there is a vaccine or medicine available.

If that’s the case, then racing will be away for a long time, thus making it more obvious to go back to base.

Just my 2c


totally agree, which is why I’m posting a second video. This was first guess when it all came out initially if you see the initial post date.

i still wouldn’t go back to base, just ride base all year round? no thank you.


I wouldn’t go back to base for a year for sure. Plan builder gave me SSB2 for 6 weeks and then another 8 week build.

Again, I doubt I’ll have an event to build for, but I’m
just thinking build FTP as high as I can and when the events do come back I’ll be ready.


Thank-you, I hadn’t managed to find those threads before so that was helpful to read. Interesting that planbuilder still tells me to go into specialty next, then build and specialty again but it puts you back to base although the timing of our hypothetical events are similar! I had a play around with the timings but I only got base if I restarted the plan, rather than keeping my original start date for training.

I like the idea by @Captain_Doughnutman to see what planbuilder does if I put races for 2021 in instead. Although I still like the idea of building to a peak even if there’s no racing, just because it’s the first time I have used TR and I would like to see where the full cycle gets me. Lots of good ideas to think about!


Thank-you, this all makes sense to me. I know there’s a strong chance of no racing at all this year, but actually thinking about what you’ve said has made me realise that I still want to go through the specialty etc anyway just to see what happens if nothing else!

Yep, same thing I did. Restarted my plan starting next week.

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Agree and disagree with this. You could do a nice big block of HVZ2 base which could set you up nicely for proceeding into Build/Spec Fall/Winter training. However, if you’re in a strict no ‘outside activity’ zone, 3hrs/day on an indoor trainer isn’t the best idea.

Speaking from n=1, I know the 4-month HVZ2 block I did really changed the way my physiology responds to exertion.

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I like this idea too. I’ll change my answer and say do this. :+1:


Moving into specialty could be beneficial, or it could be terrible. I’m on week 5 of the 40k tt mid volume plan, and I’m debating what to do, so I’ll stream of consciousness my thought process currently. I think it’s a really good idea to do some of the 40k tt plan unless you’re experienced with these efforts. I’m going through this for my second time (first time on MV) and I’m finding it really beneficial to battle through these efforts and experience the process. Especially now that my A race is cancelled, if I pop on a workout then whatever because I’m gaining so much info without freaking out that I’m going to suck when race day comes.

That being said, I think the 40k tt plan is the hardest mentally to cope with especially mid volume. Basically 40k tt efforts every week for 6 weeks with a rest week in there is really really really really REALLY hard, and when you don’t have that drive of an event right around the corner, and all the mental stressors going on right now it can be really hard to push through when you’re hurting. So if you’re going to go through the plan know if it’s getting to be too much and hindering rather than helping.

I think what would be good to do is come up with some questions you’d like to answer this season, knowing that it’s likely going to be minimally competitive, that really opens you up to do some science! I’m curious to know how I handle 2 peaks in a season, so I’m working through trying to find answers to these questions.

  1. How am I mentally and physically after my A race peak? Do I need to take time away from structure, or even off the bike in general before hopping back into training for my second peak?
  2. Is going from a peak directly into build and specialty too much? Do I need to add in a couple weeks of easier build work?
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I’d be inclined to do the speciality plan - it’s a balancing act between doing something different and motivating yourself to do it “just because”.

This Easter weekend would have been one of my ‘B’ events but obviously cancelled. My main ‘A’ event at the end of May is also cancelled. I went to Plan Builder and moved that to next year but also left my second ‘A’ event in mid-October in place. PB gave me:

Sweet Spot Base 2 (6wks)
Sustained Power Build (8wks)
Cross Country Marathon (3wks)
Recovery (7wks)
Sweet Spot Base 2 (6wks)
Sustained Power Build (8wks)
Sweet Spot Base 2 (4wks)
Cross Country Marathon (8wks)
Recovery (1wk)

I should note that my events are multi-day, single stage MTB rides so really not typical of what most on here do. I’m going to do Century Road Speciality prior to starting the Plan Builder sequence, you know, just because …

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Thank-you, that’s really helpful to read. I think that idea of using this year as a bit of a test run to see how my body and brain respond to these plans could be good, rather than worrying about what is the best thing to do if there is a race at the end of all this. I can see what you mean about the TT plan, having only cast my eye over it some of those long efforts look mentally very tough on a turbo! But also interesting to give it a go, with the flexibility of being able to change my mind and adjust things if needed. I’ve done quite a few TTs before but this is my first year using power, so will be interesting to practice riding to power and pacing on the turbo.

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truth; i just rather do race intensity intervals to keep growing in that manner. but we all need to do what’s best for us on individual basis. keep crushing it!