Where do I go after this build block?

A bit of background first. I am 56 years of age with quite a lot of cycling background. I road and crit raced until about 2 years ago.

I now race triathlon. I started with sprints then did a half IM last year in a time of 5 hours and 6 (4th in age category) with 2 hours 31 for the bike leg.

This year I was going to focus on Olympic distance, but obviously Covid killed those plans so no racing this year. I therefore have lots of time to improve my cycling.

Next season will be a mix of triathlon Olympic distance and some sportives abroad-either Marmotte again or maybe the Maratona assuming I can get a place. I may also do another half IM but have no interest in full distance.

I did sweet spot base low volume over the winter, supplemented by some outside rides.

I then did Olympic build low volume, again supplemented by outside rides.

Then Covid hit so I spent around 6 weeks basically doing maintenance work with a weekly Vo2 session.

I am now in week 2 of Sustained power low volume build as that is where I feel I need to work to improve. I also do a weekly outside VO2 session of 5x4 minutes at around 122% of FTP, and also some easy endurance outside rides.

I started my base period with an FTP of 235. I am now at 256.

My 5 minute power is relatively decent at 313 watts.

I know my sprint power is rubbish, but for the type of racing I will be doing it’s not important, so is not a focus.

I am currently 77kg. If I was racing I would get my weight down to 74 or 75 kg relatively easily.

I would like to get my ftp to around 280 or thereabouts. Is that achievable?

My main question is what should I do once I finish my block of sustained power. Should I repeat it, do another round of sweetspot 2 base, or something else?

I am not used to having so much time to prepare for a new season.

Some help with what to do next would be of great assistance.

I’m curious to hear where this thread goes, as I might be your clone. (Exception: I’m 50 years old)

1 Like

It’s so difficult to decide what to do right now for sure.

Lots of people, including me, experiencing this. We are getting to a part of the year where more base gets trickier and maybe a bit boring, but it’s a good option particularly if you’re looking to build your aerobic capacity. That said, let me offer an alternative path:

Finish Sustained Build at the start of July. Roll into XC Marathon, takes you to the end of August, then do a maintenance plan or find an event if we are back to having a schedule by then.

The XCM plan is a pretty good one for maintaining aerobic endurance, muscular endurance, and sprinkling in sprints and the fun short-short floating VO2max workouts to keep it interesting. It’s got elements of sustained power suitable for your events and short power which could benefit a masters athlete.

Alternatively, you can just keep building your base of fitness and FTP by doing SSB again, or a mashup of SSB1/2 over the course of six weeks, then Sustained Build and a Specialty plan which would take you into October, ready to roll into your 2021 training.

The world is your oyster, and consistency is what matters most. As long as you’re doing something that keeps you getting on the bike, you’ll be great.

(FWIW, I’m finishing SSB2 now, planning Sustained Build and possibly XCM myself… and I don’t even own a mountain bike.)


I generally think it’s best to do something different, repeating a block never seems a great idea either in terms of providing a different physical stimulus or staying fresh mentally. So one option would be to go into Specialty and put an event on the calendar. Could be a Zwift race or maybe a challenge of your own devising. If sustained power is what you want to improve then maybe target a TT, or an event that goes up the Alpe if you’re on Zwift, or if doing it locally on your own target a segment or long climb to set your best time. Other option would be to revert to a base block.

Also seems like you’ve got a pretty good handle on what works for you, unsurprisingly given years of racing! I’m a few years behind you at 45, but definitely finding as I get older I respond better to a more polarised approach with lots of Z2 and a VO2 Max session once per week even in base.

1 Like

I don’t Zwift but it is a good idea to set a target outside and base the next plan around that. I have a local (well 70 minute easy ride to get to it) that takes around 15 minutes to climb full gas. I have broken 15 minutes a couple of times but last few rides have been around 15.20 with my PR 14.48. Maybe I should target beating that PR. However what plan would that be?

Sustained Build into Climbing RR is how I’d go for that. That climb is likely a Supra threshold effort, so train for that! Century LV would be a good option as well.

1 Like

There are probably a number of answers to this and it kind of depends on what motivates you.

You could go into a speciality plan and end up with a mock ‘race’ effort which you taper for. Then have a short time off and start all over from (hopefully) a higher foundation.

Equally, you could cycle through base/build/base/build and see if that nets you any FTP growth. Without any races or events which are really taxing you could focus on consistency in your training.

You could also take the opportunity to try something completely different. Adding in more short sharp efforts to break up the sustained effort focus.

The world is your oyster as they say.

1 Like

I am just riding outside doing lots of summer zone 2 - yes there are no races but that means less fatigue. I usually race about 20 open time trials a year - mostly 25-50 miles. But if you race a lot then keeping your CTL up is tough - or if you do then your tired for races. That makes it a tough balancing act - now I can do some serious base, enjoy the sun and not worry about race taper/recovery. Yes I miss racing but it’s nice to have a break actually after 30 years of racing triathlon/marathons/time trials in various ways. I’m hoping to be mentally and physically refreshed for 2021. Something that won’t happen if I keep thrashing myself on the turbo! :smiley: - I got my TR ramp test FTP up to 300W@60.5 kg in Feb. It isn’t that now but I can’t use it so I’m not to worried…I’m sure a winter bashing out 90 min o/u sessions will get it back and I’m 51 so I don’t have the mental matches for the tough stuff unless there is a reason.


CV-19 has opened up my schedule and removed travel time I was always burdened by. So more free time for me has meant more time on the bike. Nothing extraordinary but I’ve increased my hours per week by about 3 on average and 4-5 during the best weeks. For me more volume has meant lifetime highs for FTP even though I’ve only been on higher volume for 6 weeks or so.

So do you have more time to commit to training or just more time between now and your next event?

If you can work in more time on the bike then your 280 goal certainly sounds achievable. If you simply have more time to prep for your next event but no more time to commit on the bike, stick with as much structure as you can tolerate. I would personally focus on tempo but I’m a high responder to aerobic work and not a great responder to intensity. Sounds like you might be in the same boat but you will know better than I.

1 Like

Work on your weakness. Pick a block that you struggle with so it isnt weak anymore. We have a long time before we can really go back to normal so time isnt critical. Consistency is the key.

Impressive power to weight there! Awesome

1 Like

Yes I do have more time I could ride particularly now with long days and sunshine so I expect my weekly riding hours to rise but for me I also need to keep some good intensity which I do best on the turbo and a weekly VO2 session on a local stretch of road which is ideal for such efforts.

I guess for now let’s complete the build phase complemented by the outside rides, and see where I am at the end of June.

The target of a PB up the Bwlch climb might be what I aim for after that to keep a focus.

1 Like

Well my weakness is sprinting but I don’t intend to spend time working on that as it really doens’t feature in what i do now as I no longer crit or road race.

Thanks - although I think the ramp test overestimates my hour FTP as the only tt I managed this year before lockdown I could only averaged 270W for 54 mins (although I would have expected that to improve as I got use to sustained efforts…not that I got the chance as racing all over the UK was cancelled the next weekend!) - I do have an advantage in that I’m only 5’7" tall and years of marathon running and the ability to run 16 and change for 5k means I have a decent engine. That said I still get beaten in flat tt by some big guys with inferior w/kg as it is absolute watts and drag coefficient that count most of the time! - I’m quite good at hill climbs though! :grin:

1 Like

Could get more creative - like a target number of meters climbed, or distance covered in a specific time you could ride outdoors this summer in your local area (subject to all lockdown advice etc)

I would like to hope there will be TT’s in September here in the UK, but if not I’ve got some alternative SPOCO-type challenges to use peak fitness. Not strava segments actually but still outdoor targets that involve riding fast.