Specialty plan fail, is this normal?

Well, I’ve run into a problem with my specialty plan maybe some of you could chime in…

I only made it through the first week and a half of the RRR specialty plan until hitting the wall and crashing pretty hard mid last week. This is frustrating because since Nov. I’ve made it through base 1 and 2 and build, low/mid volume, successfully with no problems. It was pretty tough at times but I made it, only one minor cold, hardly any skipped workouts (maybe one) and regular bumps in FTP. I felt the fatigue building but after the recovery weeks the legs were primed and always ready to go. This all is a first for me to make it though this many TR plan phases. I’m a pretty structured cyclist but this was the most compliant I’ve been with the TR structured plans. In fact I’ve never followed a full plan until 2018, I usually just cherry pick the workouts and do my own structure.

The issue at hand is I had to skip last weekends specialty (week 2) workouts because Striped +1 and then Kern +1 basically had me limping into the weekend. The legs were pretty much toasted on Thursday from Kern so I did Trullli -2 (30 minutes) as a bit of a test/warm up on Saturday to test the waters and the legs were still not recovered and feeling like a turd taco. I skipped Sundays workout and after some nice recovery felt better Monday and made it through Tuscarora okay but the legs just didn’t have that that nice “pop” that I’m so used to, although contrarily, I set some 2019 PR’s for 5 sec, 20 min and 60 min power on this one. Today I felt okay, so I went forward with Black Kaweah and made it through each interval but with that darn lingering deeper type of fatigue in my legs that I haven’t felt at all. Again, I hit all the interval numbers, grinding it out but no pop, low cadence, deep fatigue feeling again.

Obliviously my legs are carrying a descent amount of fatigue but I can’t get a handle on how to adjust moving forward. My observations:

  1. The RRR specialty plan has a lot of VO2/anaerobic work which seems to have shocked my system compared to the Base/build intensities.
  2. I can’t seem to recover enough from the previous workout to have a successful next workout.
  3. I need to adjust something but not sure exactly what. Should I take my recovery week early or maybe take 2-3 days off and jump right back in and finish my 3rd week? Maybe I could switch specialty plans, maybe downgrade to low volume, maybe modify the specialty phase by eliminating some of the high intensity days a trade for SS?

For back round I’m 46 at 250 FTP, 155 pounds, road and mountain bike-used to race a lot of mt bike, been riding for 17 years. I’ve always seem to have a somewhat lower tolerance for the higher intensity stuff and have a tough time hanging with 375-400 TSS per week. My goals are to hang with the fast group this summer and some races thrown in for fun.

Thanks for any input you might have!

What volume of plan are you following now?
Does this differ (more or less) compared to your Base and Build work?

I started with low volume for base late last fall then sometime during build I began doing a hybrid of the mid volume by eliminating the endurance day (wed) and usually downgrading a workout or two to an easier/shorter version. In doing this I ended up with something in between a low volume and mid volume plan which was working until specialty phase. So yes my TSS did increase when I made that change, I’ve been shooting for 375-400 which seemed fine until I started the spec. phase. Thanks

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Yep! You think base II is hard until you start the build phase (SPB for me). Then you start the Specialty phase and build seems easy.
That’s my experience anyway. YMMV.

I’ve backed off in the middle of my mid vol Spec plan to recover from a XCM race on the weekend. The power is still there but my legs feel quite fatigued and my nose starts to run after I spin for awhile.
The 2 day stage race at the end of my spec plan is not an A race so I’m comfortable with the downtime. I’m still spinning my legs everyday and some short laps of the local trails. Loads of PR’s on Strava each time I head outside.

Listen to your body. It’s no help if you get sick and have to back off for a week or so.

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I have usually in the past had a very hard time with the specialty plans. I think the build plans build quite a bit of fatigue.

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It sounds like you’ve been working hard and fatigue has mounted pretty quickly during the specialty phase.

If I were in this position and not aiming for a specific event, I’d give myself a couple of days off. Completely off. Then I’d go back and start with week two again. See if I can tackle the sessions that turned into a grind.

Should it be the case I was unable to complete those sessions with ‘pop’ in my legs/overall performance, I’d drop down to low volume.

For what it’s worth, I only do low volume and add sessions where time and my body allow. This significantly reduces both mental and physical stress, which allows me to perform.


One thing I find is that base and build don’t normally overlap with similar ‘actual’ rides, but speciality does. For example my CX speciality will overlap with CX races which means I can get overloaded with VO2 max work. This year doing TT speciality has overlapped with some of my longer outdoor rides, and again this means some of the threshold workouts are harder.

I’ve just either dialed back the workout or skipped it to give me a bit of a break. I could cut out some of my B/C events, but that’s the fun part! :grinning:

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Yep, some time off is needed, just working out how to move the rest of the way through spec. I’m doubting that I can even do it… Maybe there should be a master’s spec. plan that’s not quite as intense. Either way I’m kinda disappointed since base and build went so well.

That’s a tricky path to start walking down. I wouldn’t over analyse this and I don’t wish to sound flippant. You’ve been tackling some pretty serious sessions and I’m sure that like most us non-pro athletes, you’ve got other things going on in your life. Don’t let this beat you up, use it to build you up.

Take the rest, eat well and get back to it with renewed vigour. My mantra is control the mind and everything else will follow :+1:

I don’t want to be doing as much TSS in my Specialty phase as I did Base and Build, average quite a bit less actually. That cycling base work is done at this point. In Specialty, I’m just working on specific items with the race goals in mind. At most, I stick with the TR volume level I did for base and build.

i’d lean towards #1, the vo2 is very hard and could have just knocked you down a bit, but you still soldiered on a bit going into the hard Monday ride. Overall, you’re probably not recovered.

To point #2, sometimes I have Master’s athletes (myself included), throw an enduro day between hard workouts if max watts and performance is the goal of the session; otherwise back to back workouts are really beneficial in getting stronger, even if day 2’s numbers aren’t as high as if you were fresh. This used to be deemed as “you’re not hitting the numbers, go home and rest”, but the viewpoint on this is changing.

#3 hard to answer this one without seeing the big picture. Can you send a screenshot of your performance manager chart, or better yet,let’s link up here so I can help you move forward. No cost as always. (That offer goes for anyone reading that just wants a second pair of eyes on their training and some suggestions. Just love seeing the forest of power files.)



Right, I didn’t mean it to sound so dismal… I guess I mean it to be more of a training tolerance or physical limitation of being able to actually complete the specialty phase.

Thanks for the insights here BH. For clarification, Are you saying on #2 that an easier endurance ride in between 2 of the harder specialty workouts would be beneficial?

I shared my TP account with you, thanks in advance for taking a look Brendan

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thanks! I see that, I’ll dig in today. can you email me at heyobrendan@gmail.com so I can learn a bit more about you. It helps blend your goals with what the power files tell us. Thanks!

that’s correct. If the goal of that workout is to hit max watts for X intervals, or even straighten out your power duration curve with one max watt effort, the extra rest is great.

If TSS accumulation is more the goal for an overload scenario, then skip the endurance day in between and go back to back.

Let me know if that is unclear at all.

Brendan - EVOQ.BIKE

or can answer the Q’s here, whichever is best for you, thanks!

First Name or Initials so I can ID your account on TP:

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Gang, just an update… I did black Kaweah Thursday with no improvement, legs were still lifeless… I gutted it out but no bueno. It’s obvious that the legs need more rest and the 2nd and 3rd week of specialty are somewhat of a wash, not getting faster that’s for sure and actually maybe going backwards. To adjust, I’m thinking an endurance ride this weekend instead of the planned spec. workout then roll through the recovery week and pick up with the remaining 4 weeks of specialty. However, suggestions on how to navigate the rest of specialty would be helpful. My goal is just to increase FTP and be real strong on group rides with an occasional race. I haven’t had to adjust down for base and build so scratching my head here. Is the specialty phase (even low volume) just just too much intensity for some master’s as scheduled? Input appreciated!

hey @2fst4u, how did this work out for you? Looking at a similar situation at the moment so appreciate any tips from your experience

The criterium LV Specialty phase, for me last “season” was super hard and that was with the old plans. I wasn’t able to do all the workouts without some back pedals or some kind of “fail”. I was in your shoes thinking something was wrong with me.
What I’ve heard and now believe IMO is they’re trying to “sharpen the blade” you won’t notice any FTP boost during this phase. My repeatability though was the best it had ever been. I actually KOMd 4 segments during this phase in one ride. They were all around 5 minute each, so I definitely felt stronger.
Also with specialty eventually the intensity is higher as the volume is cut way down to get you to peak form.

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