Climbing, Elevation, Over-Training and More – Ask a Cycling Coach 223

@Nate_Pearson can you share some data on plan completion rates?

It’s hard to measure that. Most people make slight changes. We’re doing some work to better understand this.

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Thanks @Nate_Pearson, was just curious as to what it might look like but I understand the intricacies.

Thank you for the tips. I will listen to that podcast. Ironically, planning for 8 hours of sleep is what ran me into the ground. I tried to set my own sleep schedule for nine months and the inability to fall asleep quickly (or even within 60-90 minutes caused anxiety issues which only contributed to my sleep issues).

Someone suggested that I stop fighting my body’s new routine and simply do chores or read in the living room until I begin to feel tired, take note of that feeling and wait until I’m sleepy before getting ready for bed. This has greatly improved the quality of my sleep when I do sleep. Six hours of great sleep is much better than eight hours of napping.

Most of what you mentioned was covered in a TR podcast about a month ago and I have implemented those practices at some time or another. One thing I did not try was taking a hot shower before bed. I appreciate that reminder!

Yes! I have experienced the same! I’m 46 years old, perimenopausal. Lately however, I’ve been able to sleep really well - back in the 7-9 hr range. I don’t know what the secret sauce is, but in my case I was able to see improvements just by tracking my sleep better (I use Whoop) and thereby seeing the effect of a good night’s sleep on my performance, committing to the same bedtime each night (9pm, but sometimes I hop in bed at 8:30 just to wind down), keeping my bedroom cool, making sure the room is really really dark, listening to an audiobook to help me fall asleep, and ceasing to drink fluids at least an hour or two before bed. It cuts into your life - you have to make time for it and sacrifice other things. But it’s important enough - the foundation on which everything else rests that it’s so worth it.

I laughed at your comment about the upside - I am also able to ride long into the night without much caffeine haha…

I too, would love to hear if Amber has any anecdotes or information.

What was the name of the book Nate referenced about Endurance Diet. Maybe it was called Endurance Diet? haha

The Endurance Diet

  • by Matt Fitzgerald

Edit to add a link to the thread I am trying to maintain for a complete list of related books:

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So good to hear this may be a common problem. I tried setting a bedtime for 8 months the inability to fall asleep quickly just made the situation worse by causing anxiety issues. I also updated my AC settings so that I’m sleeping in a cold room.

I’ve been tracking my sleep patterns as well as my macros. In January I set them to 45% carbs, 25% protein and 30% fat. After my panic attack/body crashing episode in September, I set them back to 50% carbs, 20% protein and 30% fat. After a week or two I could tell a difference - I started sleeping a lot better (when I am actually asleep) but the downside is I have excess water weight from the extra carbs so I feel like a marshmallow and I’m back to being really sore after WOs.

Oh and your comment about not drinking anything at least an our or two before bed - YES. That’s something else that’s new to me. It’s as though my bladder is now half of it’s normal size. I have to rely on gels more because Beta Fuel and Maurten require me to drink too much during group rides.

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Oh yes, the sleep anxiety thing,. When I first started tracking my sleep with an app on the iphone, I realized it gave me performance anxiety! Haha. So I stopped doing that. Maybe that is not good for us type A bike racing types. At least with the Whoop, I don’t have to turn anything on. When pressing the start button on an app it always felt like “OK, go to sleep… now! Go go!” Whoop just silently tracks it without you having to say when. Subtle - but it seems to help.

I use the audio book idea specifically to address the sleep anxiety. It’s like having a bedtime story. And if you can’t fall asleep, it’s all good, at least you are getting some quality horizontal time, with the added bonus of getting through your book list without having to use your eyes or stare at a bright screen. “Norse Mythology” was really fun and had great narration. And I found that books like “Racing and training with a power meter” were good enough to put anyone to sleep fast!! :wink: Probably stay away from the thrillers and suspense novels.

With Whoop (I am not pushing Whoop, just sharing the learnings from it) I realize that I get excellent recovery scores with just under 2 hours of Deep Sleep, and just under 2 hours of REM. The rest is all light sleep, or waking states. So, really that’s not a lot of time so no need to stress if it is taking a long time to fall asleep. I’ve learned to relax and be patient with the extra time it now takes me to drop into the really beneficial states. I also learned that one bad night among many others that were good or ok doesn’t negatively affect my training or even race day.

If you have a horrible sleep one night you can usually look forward to an easier one the next night. It’s about the trends over time, not being perfect every night. Cheers, hugs, and I hope you figure out all the strategies that work for you in this new whacky, little studied and little talked about era of life!

I really appreciate your ideas. I will download some boring podcasts to see if I am able to sleep when someone is talking. If I am, I will transition to audio books. And I’ll look into Whoop!

I’ve can attest that a bad nights sleep is usually followed by a great nights sleep. I just have to roll with the punches and adapt. So many good nuggets. :slight_smile:

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For people in Europe, any similar reference to the Lasko Blower Fan? I was not able to find similar stuff

Search for “carpet drying fan” and you’ll find a bunch of options. These are generally blower style fans, similar to the lasko.


One option, as covered in the related thread.

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Thanks for the tips. I was not able to find a carpet dryer for less than 100 euros. And the Vacmaster is sold out for the moment. I bought two honeywell ht900e instead. In addition to my two current standard fans, it should be enough

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Does anyone know how the Kickr Headwind stacks up with the Lasko fan? I always thought it was pretty good. My dog usually sits on the couch behind me when I train. I caught her shivering yesterday so turned the fan down lol.

Great summarized explanation. As someone who lives at 2250 meters, so training full time here, sometimes racing at similar elevations but mostly lower elevations, is there any benefit to modifying training plans? Or do I just continue on at my home elevation FTP? Is there any value in doing shorter higher intensity intervals with longer recovery to initiate adaptation to higher power, so the body can utilize this at a lower elevation? Or do I just continue on and hope that my muscles will be able to respond to increased oxygen delivery at lower elevations?

I try to go lower in elevation for outdoor intervals when I can but trainer rides are done at the house.

Hi Guys,
Love the podcast thank you! I love the scientific detail.

I’m very lucky and live in the French Alps and luckily I love climbing hills. In fact it was quite a job to find flat roads to train on for IM Barcelona recently. My question is about the climbing. I’ve been doing some testing and I find, totally anecdotally, that my time to exhaustion seems to be similar for seated and standing climbing given the same power output when I try to keep it consistent. If feel like when I’m climbing out of the saddle normally there is an increased metabolic cost but at the same time an increased power output. I’ve found some interesting articles which seem to support the idea that climbing efficiency or metabolic cost per watt is the same in seated or standing and would appreciate your opinions.


Thanks for the shout! While I haven’t yet experienced this myself, and I know a lot of women who have. Menopause seems to throw everything upside down, such that everything that “worked” for you before (nutrition, sleep, training, etc) no longer works or no longer works in the same way. This hormonal transition seems to throw everyone back to square one in terms of the trial-and-error process of figuring out how your body responds to different inputs/stressors. I wish there were a one-size-fits-all protocol here, but from my understanding, the effects of menopause are highly individualized. On one hand, this is super frustrating. On the other, we are all always evolving as people and athletes, so we are constantly having to switch up our approaches even year to year. What worked for you five years ago or even a year ago might not necessarily work the same way now. Menopause is a pretty dramatic example of this, but it can also be viewed as another aspect of that same evolution.

I know many women who continue to make major gains through this transition. It’s not an exact science, and it’s not easy. But you absolutely do NOT have to resign yourself to “settling.” Some things I’d suggest considering:

  1. Cortisol - this is a major fundamental hormone that strongly influences your circadian rhythm and sleep, and it is also strongly affected by shifts in production of sex hormones. Plus, it’s pretty easy to test, as it simply requires saliva samples taken at different time points. Your description of disrupted sleep, coupled with the body crash in September makes me suspect your cortisol may be playing a significant role here. Much of what @T_Field has mentioned addresses cortisol-related aspects of circadian rhythm. Asking your doctor for a cortisol test might be a good start to drilling down on what’s specifically affecting you.

  2. Related to cortisol is the relative intensity of your training. Women I know who have trained and competed at a high level through this phase tend to excel when decreasing volume and increasing intensity. For example, many older swimmers tend to focus on shorter distances as they get older, and actually see great success. Shorter duration and higher intensity provides a very different stimulus for your adrenal system, which could be beneficial not only in terms of performance gains, but also for recalibrating sleep. This is a HUGE generalization, and I don’t know what your typical training looks like. My coach and I used to joke that to be able to do something I’ve never done before, I’ll need to do something I’ve never done before. :slight_smile: It sounds stupid, but the truth is that if you want to see a different result, you have to try a different input or set of inputs. With menopause this is especially tricky because so many systems get thrown out of whack, relative to what you’re accustomed to experiencing.

Don’t despair. Embrace a student mindset and see if you can get excited about jumping on a whole new learning curve, building a new relationship with your body, and seeing what this new version of you can do! You’re evolving, which – in addition to the frustration and confusion inherent in significant change – also means that you’ll likely be capable of things you couldn’t do before menopause. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be able to sprint better than ever! There might be a lot of fun to be had in figuring out and pushing these new and different limits. Hope this helps!

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Thanks, Amber! This does help a lot. I got into my GP soon after my initial discovery and she urged me to focus on whole foods and ditch ALL of my supplements. Within the same week, I discovered Dr. Sims and Roar. She too emphasized whole foods rather than gels, bars and some drink mixes. The other thing that has helped is the FitrWoman app. Identifying cycle phases and understanding that feeling flat for a few days doesn’t mean I need to find another hobby. :slight_smile: I’ve also stopped pushing my training schedule too far. Four days on the bike - that’s it. If I want to do something else, I’ll go for a run.

In the past month I’ve finished two hilly (I’m in FL) 100 mile rides feeling better than ever, and I’m finally able to sleep again. Actually, I’m dreaming for the first time in years.

Your mention of cortisol is timely because I had labs done this morning for a full hormone panel. I have a follow up with my GP in couple of weeks. The more information we have, the better.

I’m just so happy there are many resources for women right now. I couldn’t imaging going through this 20 years ago.

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