Springtime slowness - anyone else? whyyyyy?

The past two years I take it easy in the late fall and then in early January I do Sweet Spot Base I & II and then spring comes along and I get outside…should I be ready to kill it? I did all that hard work! I find myself at the beginning of a process. Perhaps I’m where I need to be but I at least need a little encouragement. To be clear - my endurance is good but I lack high end fitness.

  • My core isn’t where it needs to be. It takes me a couple of weeks before I can do rides without getting sore core muscles. Anyone else experience this?
  • Maybe spring allergies are bothering me. I’m fine when I’m not working out but maybe hard efforts reveal some flaws.
  • Maybe I’m recovering from SS I & II
  • Maybe I’m exactly where I need to be. Last year I definitely hit a new peak mid to late summer. I was guiding fast group rides that I’ve struggled on at other points.

Does any of this really matter? Not really, but I would like to understand it.

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I always struggle with this. I need (and am) to do more core work. For me it’s my lower back, but yes, I often measure my rides based on expected lower back pain. I realized it was such a problem when I looked at a 5hr ride and thought, “ugh my back is going to be so sore.” That’s when I realized what a limiter it was for me.

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What kind of riding are you doing? Mountain biking for me requires some back strength that I don’t get training indoors.

You’re not being very specific about what you are experiencing fitness-wise. I guess my question would be, how did the VO2 work go in SSII? How far did you progress? If you are still in the lower progression levels, I’d say, you weren’t training your “high end.” You were just preparing to train your “high end.”

There is definitely some chance you overdid it in SS I & II. I’ve done it many winters. What volume are you doing? Low, Medium or High?

What are you doing in the summer to get to the “new peak?” Are you riding outdoors a lot more? Are you following a training plan?

“in early January I do Sweet Spot Base I & II”
“my endurance is good but I lack high end fitness”

SS Base isn’t designed for “high end fitness”, so this isn’t be surprising. Most of the TR plans have 3 phases - base, build, and specialization. It’s not until the 3rd that you really start to get into peak fitness.

So, you said “I find myself at the beginning of a process” and that’s absolutely true.

FWIW, I’ve taken to scheduling a mid-March A race for just this reason. Nothing like a 100 mile gravel (6.5 hours) event to bring me into the season in peak form. Long days outside in Jan and Feb kinda suck, but the fitness is worth it.


Fast group road rides. We regroup on hilltops or if the front of the group gets too frisky. We’re mostly 40+ but a few of us regularly see podiums in local races.

I love the structure that TR provides but I prefer riding with others outdoors.

Long days outside in Jan and Feb kinda suck, but the fitness is worth it.

That can be hard to do here in Wisconsin.

This is it. But I am also curious, how long did you take it easy in late fall? In other words, when is the last time you really used high end fitness? I find that the longer it has been, the longer it takes to get it back.

I think this is a general challenge with performing a training plan predominantly on a trainer. If the ultimate goal is to ride hard outside there are a lot of things missing from ‘trainer time’. For me, TR has resulted in higher FTP numbers but a reduced total volume of riding, and less durability than I had before I started TR. I put this down to a change in focus, and it makes me a bit more fragile in my opinion.

In an effort to counter this I have dropped to a low volume plan and am even seeing that as optional for some work outs, and instead favor adding in several longer 3-4 hour hill rides that really build endurance at a sustained level of effort. This is all just how I experience things, and may not align with others.


I have found that it takes me a few rides / weeks to find my “outdoor” legs…there is a rythym / cadence to outdoor riding (especially group rides) that can’t be duplicated indoors (even on Zwift group rides). So what you are experiencing is pretty “normal”, IMO…

Agrees in Northern Illinois. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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I’d likely be doing endurance rides on Zwift (work all the cadence) and cross-country skiing to get outside and get intensity.

That’s a good point. I was off the bike for a couple of weeks, then a few weeks of easy riding. Throw in an illness and holiday travel and it adds up to about to two months.

Oh, I was doing low volume plans - they’re not bad for the first two weeks but middle and end I find myself pretty fatigued and would choose recovery over additional easy rides.

Hey there!

To us, it sounds like this is about where we’d expect an athlete to be after completing SSB I & II. Kudos on getting that hard work done so far!

Like @AlistairSH said, TR plans are typically broken up into three phases: Base, Build, and Specialty.

Sweet Spot Base lays the foundation you’ll need to build that “sharper” top-end fitness down the line.

If you continue to follow a plan through the Build and Specialty phases, you’ll notice your workouts will shift from Sweet Spot and Tempo to higher intensities that will focus on the fitness goals you’re looking to target. As an example, time trialists or climbers may be getting into more Threshold and Suprathreshold work, while punchier riders may be doing more VO2 and Anaerobic work.

Also remember that peak fitness can’t be held for very long – athletes who peak earlier in the year often have to take a break around this time before rebuilding their fitness for another peak later on in the season.

We’d encourage you to keep following a plan if you’d like – even just one or two workouts per week can keep progressing your fitness!

Key points:

  • You’re right where we’d expect you to be coming off of Sweet Spot Base I & II.
  • If you continue to follow a training plan, the intensity of your workouts will change to target different energy systems.
  • Peak fitness can’t be held year-round, so don’t expect yourself to be in peak shape for an entire season.

Have you been exclusively inside on the trainer? If so I think it is normal to experience an adjustment period. (This goes the other way as well as after riding outside and then transitioning to inside riding). At least thst’s how it is for me anyways.

SS plans can be tricky. You don’t feel like they are doing anything until they are and then your fatigued. That was my impression

If you’re stuck indoors and use erg mode, I’d suggest using resistance mode once a week. Since you’re on low volume try doing a long endurance ride once a week in resistance mode to get a more” real life feel” for the power/ cadence needed outside.

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I’d go one step farther and suggest riding in Zwift or RGT. Send your TR workout to your bike computer, connect in sim mode, load a rolling route, and then train like outside. You’ll get a road like experience and will need to adjust power/cadence in response to changes in terrain.


Agreed, even Resistance or Slope mode end up sort of “static” as once you find a gear & cadence to hit a power target, it’s just a matter of maintaining that cadence. Feel may differ a bit from ERG, but it’s not the huge difference that some expect or claim.

I agree that Simulation via virtual world or video course are better in that they have true variability in course profile at the very least. Add in those with a group ride element and it’s possible to bridge the gap to outside better.

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“how long did you take it easy in late fall?”

Basically, my big A race is right at the start of the season. No good reason, other than it gives me something to work towards over the winter. The rest of the year is racing for pizza and beer, or bikepacking.

So, Oct-Nov tend to be pretty chill. It’s still nice enough to ride outside (live outside DC), but I don’t generally have any goals, so it’s a lot of JRA. Dec-Jan I spend on the trainer (used to do Zwift, now TR) doing mostly base. February, the weekend rides move outside, weather be damned, and increase in duration from 90-120 min to 3-5 hours.

This is the first season I’ve used Plan Builder, so I’m letting it tell me what to do (mostly, but subbing group rides here and there because I enjoy them).

Rough season outline is…
March - Croatan (A)
Early May - local XC race (B)
Late May - 6 hour XCM (A)
Memorial Day week - vacation/off bike completely
June - 4x weeknight short-track races (3x C, finale is a B, IIRC)
July - 60 or 80 mile gravel race (A)
August/Sept - misc gravel events and fondos
Oct/Nov - unPAved gravel (A), maybe some 'cross? (B or C)

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Wow, some great feedback here! Really appreciate it. Its super helpful to voice these hunches and get some constructive discussion.

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