Ok so I just finished my 2nd week of using TrainerRoad and I feel like I’m struggling in a couple of ways and I’d love some insight.
#1 when am I supposed to do anything else? So I’m doing Sweet Spot Base Mid Volume 1 currently which is 5 days a week. I actually delayed my start of TR by a week because of an event (cycling) and shoved around my second week because of another one. I’d also like to do some lifting but I’ve got no clue where I’m supposed to fit that in. I work 8-5 and have 50% custody of my 2 school age children. I’ve had this thought about getting up at 5:30a but it never seems to work out.
#2 I’ve failed my last 2 workouts similarly and wonder if it’s just lack of rest or if I’m doing something wrong or just so untrained I should expect the failure. If you look at the calendar I just posted you’ll see I didn’t ride on Monday (planned rest day) or Tuesday. I pushed Ericsson from Tuesday to Wednesday and moved Carter to Friday thinking it sort of counts as rest anyway because Monday night I went to a concert and was out until midnight and on my feet “dancing” so my rest day wasn’t all that restful. But if you look at the last over under block of Tunemah you can see where I hit the spiral of death (all workouts are done on a KICKR17 in ERG). I lowered to 90% and was able to finish the workout but it was discouraging. I felt like I probably botched my fueling as I did this workout in the late afternoon (5:00p) and hadn’t eaten since breakfast. Yesterday was Leavitt +2 and at the one hour mark I knew I was going to spiral so I took a quick break and lowered to 95%. At 1:05 I spiraled and took another 40-60 second break before finishing. Yesterday I feel like I was well fueled.
So where do I go from here? Should I cut back to SSB low vol and build from there or keep pushing through? My main goals are to continue to lose weight but at a slower rate (lost 50 lbs from July 2017 until now…been on a plateau for 3 months) and to get stronger. I would like to start racing next year but I think it may be a big ask at my current level of fitness.
Second, _Why did you pick mid-volume? There is a TON of ride time in that program.
If you cut back to low volume, you can always ADD workouts if you have time and energy. I suspect you are worried about the weight plateau – don’t. Follow the plan and you will get stronger. Eat real food and you will lose weight.
Third, racing. What kind do you want to try/do? Listen to the TR podcasts about racing – you don’t have to be the strongest to win or even hold on. Just be smart. Next year is a LONG way off (I keep telling myself this as I have big goals and need this month of downtime).
Sounds like a few factors are going on. When was the last time you did an FTP test? I see “Sweet Spot Base Start” on your screenshot of your calendar, but no FTP test was done that day. Also, was the FTP done on the bike/trainer you are currently using for TrainerRoad? If not, I’d suggest that you do an FTP test on the exact setup you’re using for TR.
I started SSB Mid Vol 1 a few weeks ago too. The first week or two was tough to get through with my new FTP result, but it is slowly getting more manageable now.
Went with Mid Vol because I was doing a similar TSS range last winter on Zwift with a mix of riding and workouts. So I figured TR would be the ticket to be more focused and build the right things as opposed to just the higher end that I think I had focused on. My longer ride power isn’t that great (I don’t think) and I’d like to extend my high end power. I DO want to be riding a ton and want to make sure I’m not just messing around.
Perhaps I cut back to low volume and add in some Zwift racing and longer rides?
What kind of racing do I want to do…I want to be competitiveish…not just lineup and finish. My girlfriend (also a new TR user) did a climbing race this year, her first race ever, and I know that paracorse isn’t for me. I’m currently 5’9.5" and 213 lbs (new weight goal is 185ish)…so I’m looking at crits and flatter road races, though they are hard to find in my area. That said I did just find gravel riding and am really enjoying it. But again, I know I’m not built like a bike racer any course with a lot of climbing is going to eliminate me in my current stature.
AH yes. Did the ramp test the day I signed up Sept 28th. I then delayed my first workout until the 8th based on suggestions here because I had my “A Race” on Oct 7th. So FTP should be correct and yes it was done on the same setup I am doing my workouts and I did a 10 min warm up ride and calibrated before doing the ramp test. I have a dedicated trainer bike.
Why are you struggling? Look at your calendar…
You’re not following the plan.
You’re stacking workouts back to back to back and skipping prescribed rest days, and then you are adding additional TSS through outdoor rides on top when you should be doing low intensity active recovery.
Consistency is key. Mid-volume is no slouch of a plan, it’s a lot of work. You need to utilize those recovery days and the low intensity days to let the legs actively recover or you simply will begin to dig yourself in and your workouts will suffer.
SO I guess that’s part of the question. What’s the best way to balance working out with TR AND actually riding in real life?
Honestly I’d guess that the outdoor rides are overestimated, I’m still not clear on doing that and I don’t have a power meter for my gravel bike For instance the ride on the 14th…the last 8 miles were a REALLY easy spin. The start was the same 8 mile flat but working a bit harder…though with a draft. If I was using a PM I’d guess that TSS would be lower.
That said…my outdoor riding is winding down quickly for the year. It’s getting cold and dark here in the NE and I’d rather ride indoors which is why I signed up for TR. I believe things should calm down a bit moving forward in terms of outdoor rides and the concert just happened to land where it did. Once again life in the way.
So I guess another question…or one I’ll asl again. Should I move back to a Low Vol SSB?
Your rest doesn’t sound that much like rest, and sounds like your life is pretty busy. You need for factor all this in when planning how you want to ride. With a really busy life it’s not difficult to hit a wall. Rest is a vital part of training.
I wonder if you’d be better on the low volume plan and add some outdoor/zwift rides if you like?
This is where you start dealing with substitution, swapping an outdoor ride in the place of a planned indoor ride.
If this is a longer term thing you are dealing with I would want to understand more about your rides and their nature, but given this sounds like it is more short term in nature, just boot out the Wednesday and Sunday rides. You’re effectively knocking yourself down to a Low Vol plan (almost) without having to re-jig the entire calendar, and as your outdoor rides drop off you simply just complete the Wednesday and Sunday rides instead.
Right…as a new user I figured it would be better to just jockey things around as opposed to dropping indoor rides. And again this will smooth out a bit in the coming weeks and months as I have no more events scheduled and the weather is turning to the point where I’d rather ride inside anyway.
My current set of planned workouts ends in late April. At that time I’ll be transitioning back outdoors and starting base again. I can go vol volume then and work in outdoor rides and actually build toward an event.
2 things- firstly 8 hours of riding in a week is a fair amount so it’s understandable that you might feel tired. 400TSS in TR workouts is a bit harder than the same TSS just tooling around outdoors or on Zwift so expect it to be a little bit challenging at times. If you are doing too much too soon then it’s ok to miss a few workouts or dial it back a bit.
Secondly - How good is your understanding of nutrition? Given what you say about your weight (already lost 50Ibs and realistically you could lose another 50Ibs) there is a possibility that you haven’t got nutrition dialled in yet. Serious amounts of training takes a lot of good nutrition to fuel and to fuel your recovery. Crappy food choices will absolutely not help your power, fitness or weight goals. I would recommend reading “The Endurance Diet” or any other of Matt Fitzgerald 's books. He talks a lot of sense.
You’re on the right track though. Enjoy the good progress you’re making.
^ Or maybe not crappy food, but simply just not enough food! Losing 50lbs is a whole lot and suggests you’ve been in major calorie deficit. Big deficit and sweetspot/threshold training don’t necessarily make for an easy training program! Lots of good podcast content from the TR guys about fueling for workouts… (I know that was the point you were making @RCC but I thought I’d put it a bit more bluntly )
Start with low volume and then add extra workouts (as already mentioned) if you want. If you are doing mid-volume you will either have to substitute a workout for an outdoor ride, or forget outdoor riding all together to stay on point.
I live in Chicago so do low volume everything, and then mix in outdoor riding when the weather allows. On weeks where I know the weather won’t allow for any outdoor riding (see: December; January), I actually will sometimes swap out the corresponding week from the mid-level plan. If not, I will pick a workout which feels appropriate for my current plan and/or recovery state I’m in.
Also (and I’m not sure this is true) but it feels like the low-volume plans have higher intensity than the mid-level ones, so if you only get in 3 days a week you still derive the maximum benefit. (This at least felt true in the low vs mid volume ‘short power build’ which I just completed.)
So my previous diet was crap and I’ve made a huge amount of change. I’m eating in a MUCH more healthy manner but it’s not perfect and I know that. I wasn’t running a huge deficit, I used MyFitnessPal and was running between 1 lb a week and 2 lbs a week for over a year. I went from being completely sedentary to riding regularly, drinking heavily to just socially and eating garbage to eating pretty well. Again, I’m not perfect on the diet front and I have my vices but I’m doing much better than I was and I do know I’ll need to be on point to lose more. My concern about eating more is weight gain and obviously fat gain. While I have a Nokia Body + scale and use it regularly I find that the fat and muscle numbers vary so wildly they must not be accurate. I know the main thing is to look at trends and not the actual number but the trend is that I’m gaining fat (or staying level) and losing muscle.
If I look at my 6 month numbers and go back to June 1st I was 220 lbs with 61.6 lbs of fat and 150.2 lbs of muscle. This morning I was 213.2 lbs with 60.1 lbs of fat and 145.4 lbs of muscle. Of note here I take all my weights in the morning after going to the bathroom and showering (Nokia customer service said to have your feet be damp for best results). So down 6.8 lbs in weight with a loss of 1.5 lbs of fat and a loss of 4.8 lbs of muscle. Now because of trips for work and vacation with family and record rains here in PA I didn’t ride near as much this summer as I had wanted to…also didn’t ride indoors to make up for missing outdoor rides. I didn’t gain weight in this time but I did lose fitness from last winter’s indoor training.
My assumption is that with renewed focus on my training I will gain muscle again and lose a bit of fat. It’s hard to imagine losing another 50 lbs…and then I look at photos of myself and ask why it isn’t still dropping off like it did last year.
Balancing losing weight and getting stronger on the bike is huge for me…I want both.
Remember that it is much easier to go from 250 lbs to 200 lbs than it is to go from 200 lbs to 150 lbs.
Also - weight plateaus are as real as fitness plateaus. Don’t get frustrated if things stop improving. Often with weight loss I find can have a consistent diet for weeks and see no change and then suddenly drop everything in just a week
I am again the least experienced here but just from a psychological perspective I would suggest to move to the low volume plan. I know how much toll it takes to squeeze in family, job, friends and fun rides. And on top of all that you still need to find time for training.
Training needs to be fun and give you some sense of reward and accomplishment, otherwise you will stop doing it.
Going to the low volume plan will give you the opportunity of making it a lot easier to fit training in with everything else you have going on. The more often you complete workouts successfully, the stronger is the positive reinforcement to continue and maybe even increase volume. You will learn quickly to judge what you can sustain.
Conversely, if you continue trying to climb a hill that’s just too steep, you will feel exhausted and demotivated. You may not even realize that too much is on your plate - it works for others, right?
When you have completed SSB Low Vol, you can still decide to choose a higher volume training plan - with the added benefit of already having a better base fitness and knowledge about how the plan feels.
Full disclosure: this is based on my experiments with varying training loads in Xert where I went from too low to too high until I found “just right” - which is close to TR’s low volume plans.
I think people new to structured training really underestimate the effect of actually consistently doing 5 workouts per week week after week. While on an individual basis, all the workouts look either outright easy or not that hard, any good structured plan is all about the cumulative effect. Just because you rode 5 times a week before does not mean the 5 days a week of a plan will be a breeze.
Also, when you start moving stuff around like you are and skipping rest days and changing the plan, even if the weekly workout totals and TSS stay the same, the same 5 workouts spread over Monday to Sunday are different if you do the same 5 on 5 days in a row.
Finally, training at the edge is a fine enough thing that one bad nights sleep, some outside stress or even one less than stellar meal can get you in a place where you have trouble with a workout. Just regroup, try to identify what was different today versus the last day you made the workout and carry on.
I would suggest going down to low volume and then adding extra workouts or choosing longer versions of the scheduled workout if you have time/energy. I have found I improve the most when I am consistent week after week; so if picking a lower volume plan means you can achieve better consistency then I wouldn’t worry too much about it.
Like others - suggest moving to a low volume base plan. the hours built into the plan will be much more achievable and therefore, when you complete, you will get that sense of achievement.
If you are feeling good and want to add something in - don’t go mad. keep in mind that adding a 100TSS ride on what was supposed to be a rest day will throw things. Next year is a long way away and so starting a low vol plan now, perhaps followed by a mid vol or 2 and then a build etc. is bound to show dramatic improvements.
also like others have posted, weight loss can occur in steps. consistency is key in all areas.
Echoing many of the above comments. The TR coaches recommend erring towards lower volume instead of higher. Better to increase volume if you feel strong, than risk digging yourself into a hole on a volume that’s too high, and then having to reduce.