To Speciality Or Not...That is the question

Hey everyone. I know the immediate answer here is to use plan builder but sometimes I think it is good to get some thoughts and feedback from others.
Quick stats: I started TR in May with SSBMV1 and was able to jump from 226 to 255 FTP. I’m a bigger guy (TR has helped me lose almost 10lbs since may though) and at the time of the 255 FTP weighed 251. My ramp test after SSBMV2 dropped my FTP but I kept it at the 255 and was able to complete workouts. I am now in the first recovery week of SSBuildMV1 and been doing well.

Like everyone else my season is effectively canceled. My 2021 A Race is tentatively set for June 20, 2021 so I have plenty of time (Famous last words I am sure). Right now Plan Builder has me going into Criterium Speciality Phase after I finish build. That would start September 22, 2020. Between that date and my A-race I have just about 33 weeks, which would be more than enough time to do another base-base-build-speciality block with 4/5 weeks of being able to do some other training. For reference after my current Build and Speciality, Plan Builder has me doing Base 1, Base 2, Build, Base 2, Speciality.

I was contemplating a few things
1)Doing another base phase, with a hope of increasing FTP (but would that mean I do base-base-base-build-speciality?)
2)Upping to SSBHV1 with a hope of increasing TSS and ideally fitness
3)Taking 3 weeks to do a more traditional approach of riding 5-6 hours a day to get higher daily TSS and raising my current Fitness/CTL level (for reference I am currently at 50 and race Cat 4 and in theory need to be around a 70 fitness per some reference charts. By my current calculations Sweet Spot Mid Volume will only get me up to around a 60 by end of year.
4)and of course there is the whole throw it into plan builder and see what it says but thats probably my last thought right now.

Interested to hear what other folks are doing

I’m in a similar boat to you but I’ve never actually gone through the end of specialty before. Because of that, I’m going to take the training all the way to the end to test those systems out and get a feel for the efforts it puts you through. Specialty phase workouts are just as much money in the bank as the other blocks, but it does so from a different angle. You’re still getting the aerobic system working but also testing the high power you’ll need in the legs.

Looking at the workouts in criterium specialty, I suspect those longer VO2 max intervals (4 and 5 minutes) could contribute to improvements in sustained power output down the line, too. Literally all the numbers I’m looking at would be personal PRs should I complete those workouts as prescribed. That’s motivation for me to continue getting through the workouts despite no races. So if you’re in a PR FTP, the same could be said for your numbers.

So ultimately, I’d say go to the end of Specialty and take a couple weeks off the bike before starting base. Based on what we’ve heard from the podcast, taking time completely off the bike can actually aid your FTP more than going into more base. It gives your body some time to rest and adapt after so many consecutive weeks of constant physical stress.

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Yeah…that what I am thinking I will do. There’s going to be something to be said for fully completing my plan and getting through all the phases, especially to have something to compare to for next season.