Why not to skip SSB1 after build. A cautionary tale

I wanted to share some information about choosing a follow on plan after I fell into a bit of a trap choosing a plan after a really effective base and build period.

First a bit of background. I’m 41 yrs old and pretty a pretty athletic build with a multi sport background (rugby, skiing, running, swimming) for most of my life. I’ve been riding for about 3 years, mainly outside in the wonderful environments around Las Vegas which provide excellent roads and great conditions for most of the year with a little bit of TR when I couldn’t get out. My FTP was 260 (2.8 w/kg) in the summer when I started a 6 month military deployment. Thankfully I had access to an indoor trainer whilst I was away and had time every day to train. So, I set about a plan which involved following SSBMV1 followed by SSBMV2 and then Sus Power Build. At the end of that I would have about 6 weeks before I was able to go home.

I had great consistent gains over the blocks of SSBMV and SPB seeing my FTP raise from 260 to 289 to 308 to 319 and a slight decrease in weight bringing me to 3.7 w/kg. So what to do next? I have no inclination to race and my motivation is purely personal to increase both my ability to enjoy riding and see the Strava segments continually lowering. Deciding to heed Chad’s advice, I decided to head back into base rather than a speciality plan but, as I really enjoyed the VO2max elements of SSBMV2 I decided to redo that plan in full rather than SSBMV1. Here’s my cautionary tale…

After such a big jump in FTP and building a good base at a lower FTP I think it’s really important to understand the limitations of that significantly improved FTP. I’m now 4 weeks into my second round of SSBMV2 and, whilst I’m coping fine with the SS and VO2max rides and generally several percent over target values for the weekday rides, the weekend over/under rides I complete on Saturdays are absolutely destroying me. Carpathian Peak +2 last week and Mary Austin -1 today were manageable for the first several segments and then I completely blew up with sky high HR and an RPE that was off the charts causing me to have to add multiple unplanned rest intervals to get to the end. Looking back at my first go around with these two workouts I managed them OK - not sure anyone manages those particular workouts any better than OK!

So, what have I learned that I want to share with you guys? Basically - not all FTPs are created equal! Whilst I believe my FTP is set correctly, and despite occurring in week 3 of SSBMV2 plan, jumping into a 16 min set of O/U training or the pain of Mary Austin simply isn’t a good idea unless you have progressed your base through a better structured progression of shorter O/U intervals at that FTP. I missed all the O/U progression from SSBMV1 and I’m now paying for it after approximately the 10 min mark or at around the halfway point in the prescribed workout and it hurts - badly! Plan builder didn’t really work for me as I had no real target event in mind, but what I think I probably should have done was a hybrid SSBMV1 with some VO2max workouts substituted in to keep that high end topped up.

I’m still ecstatic with my progression and really excited to get back to my family and be finally able to ride outside again after 6 months only staring at a TR screen. But I will retest my FTP and will be dedicating some time doing outside workouts and building a really solid base at that value so I can have a great summer. Just thought I’d share my experiences in case anyone else out there in forumland is in the same boat.

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Thanks for sharing, and thank you for your service!

So I used plan builder and it basically had planned for me to do what you did. But I did not follow and I made a change, why? Because I’ve been exactly where you are right now and it resulted in a downward spiral of failed workouts (not saying this will be the case for you).

Last November I started trainerRoad and long story short, I made great gains, and then ended up just overtraining with too much intensity and burying myself in a huge hole.

When I used plan builder (started at the end of august) to build my plan for my A race in June, this is what it gave me:
All mid volume
Base 1
Build
Base 2
Build
Base2
Specialty

After completing base 1 and build my ftp went from 316 to 354. I’ve been as high as 340 in the past, so I think after over training, and then taking some time off before the start of this plan, once I got rolling again I was able to build fitness rather quick.

So I finished the base1 and build and I was feeling a bit tired, motivated by my new PR FTP at 354, but I could tell motivation was starting to slip. I also know that there is quite a bit of intensity in base 2. I was really afraid (especially this early in my season) to start base 2 and also burn out, knowing I still have a build, base2, and specialty to follow.

I also thought that it might help to do another block of base 1 at this new FTP. Maybe it would help build a better base at the higher ftp and help get acclimated to these new numbers, so I went ahead and changed my plan from base 2, back to base 1.

I’m two weeks into this second round of base 1. I’m feeling good and nailing all of my workouts (all outdoors, although impending major snow might change that). As of right now I’m really happy with my decision and anxious to see what happens with my ftp. Even if I take a small drop (which I expect), it will hopefully set me up for even more gains in the phases to come.

Just thought I’d share my experience, as I’ve been in the same position as you in the past.

Keep up the great work!

Also, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to set up an arbitrary “A” event so you use plan builder and also do a round of specialty and then go chase those Strava segments and reap the benefits of all your hard work. Specialty will def sharpen the pointy end, and peaking, then resetting will make you stronger. Just make sure after specialty you take a recovery week (or two) and then start a new plan. Get back to structure, and don’t ride around aimlessly (I found out what happens the hard way), as you will lose fitness.