21 year old overtrained on a low volume plan - Need Advice/Help and Reccomendations

NB: For the screenshots, I decided to censor some confidential details on my calendar.

Background: 21 years old, weight- 62-64kgs and have been structured training with trainerroad for the past 3 years. For this season, I switched to a vegan diet, and I ended up losing almost 4 kgs. I am a university student who is about to graduate soon and I have been quite involved in networking events to find a potential job and volunteer opportunities after graduation. Apart from that, I spend 45 minutes to an hour learning a foreign language every day and it is a cognitively demanding task.

**Diet **:

Breakfast: 1 cup of steel cut oats with blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, 5-7 grapes. Toppings include flaxseeds, walnuts, almonds, hemp seeds, and chia seeds + 1 medjool date. I consume omega 3s and Vitamin b12 supplements with breakfast as I don’t eat any animal products (including fish).

Lunch: Salad with raw kale, raw onions, cooked collards, cooked bok choy, beans, and cooked mushrooms. (sometimes I add more veggies, sometimes I add less). Dressings: almond butter, tahini, peanut butter, or cashew butter.

During workouts: Medjool dates (3 to 9 dates- depending on the workout)

Dinner: Raw arugula with a dressing.

The path leading up to Non-Functional Overreaching/Overtraining:

At the end of every season, I take an off-season break which is usually 2 weeks of no physical activity. That is how I started my 2022 season back during the late fall of 2021. It is during mid-October 2021, I started to have a decline in overall motivation in riding and I was able to quickly recognize that as a sign that I needed some time off the bike. Additionally, it was the end of the riding season where I live so that perfectly coincided with my break. So I decided to take 2 weeks off as you can see in the below picture:

After two weeks of break from any form of physical activity, I felt fresh and was ready to start riding. During the first week of riding following the off-season break, I did some unstructured riding and strength training as my goal was to follow Coach Chad’s benchmarks for an all-rounder. Following a week of unstructured training, I decided to start sweet spot base low volume 1 and my plan was to do: SSB LV 1> SSB LV 2> Sustained power build LV> Century LV. I have done low-volume plans previously and I always had more energy to add unstructured riding on top of them. SSB LV 1 went as planned and I never skipped any workout or reduced-intensity during a workout because I was fatigued. I only substituted workouts in place of long rides twice.

I then started SSB LV 2 and everything was going great for the first three weeks. I was getting productive workouts assigned and was able to complete them and properly recover. I found them challenging but they were not too difficult to do. I was enjoying really enjoying these workouts until the end of the third week. As you can see in the below picture, I noted that my legs were sore on January 10, 2022, and I pulled the plug on the workout halfway through. This is because I did too much squats the day before, and I decided to combine strength training and TR workouts on the same day. FYI, I usually do 2 strength training sessions per week:

The next week was the last week of SSB LV2 before the recovery week and everything went as planned. At the end of the week, I felt pretty tired after all the productive workouts that were done during the five loading weeks.

My first sign of non-functional overreaching/overtraining started during the recovery week as I noticed my legs felt a bit too heavy doing the workouts but I decided to downplay that anyways as I thought that it was just a part of the recovery process. Most of my workouts during the recovery week of SSB LV2 were in the stretch, productive, and breakthrough range (in hindsight, I shouldn’t have chosen stretch, productive and breakthrough endurance workouts during the recovery week):

Getting into the overtraining territory: Week of January 31, I started sustained power build low volume. I did a ramp test and got an FTP of 281 (a 3-watt decrease from 283 during SSB LV 2). During this training block, I noticed that I was not getting productive workouts assigned to me by adaptive training. Instead, I was only getting achievable workouts and I started to find them as challenging as “productive” ones. Thinking that something was wrong with the adaptive training software, I decided to contact trainerroad support and was told to reset my plan. After resetting my plan, I still noticed that achievable workouts were hard. TR support team told me that I am probably overtraining as I was finding achievable workouts to be hard. I did strength training on the 16th of February and then took two days off as a result. I then had a stretch workout assigned to me and I nailed it as you can see in the below picture:

The next week was a recovery week, and I noticed that my legs felt too heavy for easy lower zone 2 rides. This is not normal, but I didn’t pay too much attention to it. I had a false impression that I was recovered by the end of the week and ready for the next block of training.

Week of February 28, I didn’t start the training block with a ramp test as I had reset my training plan before as instructed by the TR support team, so I did the assigned workouts. I now had difficulty sleeping as I couldn’t even fall asleep. I woke up sleep-deprived on March 2nd and then decided to a TR workout thinking that I would freshen up after the warmup. However, that wasn’t the case but I continued to finish the workout with great difficulty. Tuesday was a day that was intended to be a day off as seen below:

I was unable to have a deep sleep on March 2, and 3. At this point I realized that I have reached the non-functional overreaching state and any further workouts or bike rides will not be helpful and it is time for some time off. I also realized that I was not eating properly (i.e not really having any carb sources) as I didn’t really have any appetite. I recently ate a whole grain toast and I magically got some energy and then was able to have a deeper sleep that night! Now, after 6 days off I feel that I am not there at a 100% and still do not have the motivation to ride my bike.

I think the biggest lesson that I learned is: athletes need more calories than sedentary people. I usually limited bread and carbs and instead only focused on fruits and salads off the bike. On the bike, I usually fuel with dates and it has provided me with enough fuel to complete productive workouts. In the future, I would focus on adding more protein and carbs by adding more tofu, tempeh, and whole-grain toasts to my meals.

What advice can you give on recovery? I plan to stay off the bike until I feel like I am ready to train again. I am predicting that it should be around 10-14 days ever since I stopped riding but I am not going to fixate on that.

I highly appreciate it if you took the time to read my long post!

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You are drastically underfueling. Before you even think about getting back on the bike, please seek out a registered dietician and get that side of things squared away, it seems like you are intentionally underfueling (avoiding the important carbs) which crosses into disordered eating territory, the right dietician can help with that side of things too. You are young and can do a lot of damage to your body by undereating/overtraining (particularly your endocrine system) which in turn leads to injury. If you are determined to remain on a vegan diet, then you really need to focus on protein intake, healthy fats and way more carbs than you are eating now and that is just for daily living as a 21 year old, you need much more fuel if you are to start riding again. Your FTP numbers show that you have a lot of potential but above all you need to be healthy, well fueled and enjoying the workouts. Best of luck to you and please take care of your health first and foremost!

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Yeah, I second what was already said. If I ate that little, I would be overtrained just brushing my teeth in the morning. Don’t even think about training until you can get your diet under control. I don’t mean it in a mean way, but rather to encourage you to get help, but the fact that you number the individual grapes that you eat is a red flag that you are trending towards potential eating issues. If I counted the individual grapes that I ate, my wife would slap me in the face. Lol.
Getting help with your diet Will be the single best thing you can do for yourself. I believe. I’m not going to say what you need to do, just that you should get help sorting that out

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Yeah, this isn’t over training, it is just starving yourself to illness.

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That’s a red flag: you are not eating adequately. I don’t know how tall you are, but at this weight you shouldn’t lose that much weight.

I’d stop training now and get your diet in order first.

If this is representative what you eat, it is clear why you lose weight. Apart from the oats and the few dates I see no major sources of carbs in your diet. Even as a normal person, I don’t think this diet is healthy. As an athlete this diet is a recipe for disaster. The fatigue you describe is a natural consequence: your body just can’t deliver the energy. Given your low body weight, I doubt you carry a lot of fat anyway, so at a certain point, it’ll look towards your muscles. You should be eating lots of rice, pasta, potatoes, bread, etc., i. e. carbs. One cup of oats wouldn’t sustain me for very long while doing a hard workout or in preparation of a long ride.

Typically, people have a basal metabolic rate of 1,800–2,200 kCal. One sweet spot workout for me is 1,000–1,200 kCal, i. e. just adding a single workout increases my fuel requirements by 50 %. You must take your workouts into account when adjusting portion size.

From the meal plan you posted (and again, I have to take you at your word that it is representative), I have to doubt the sources you have consulted when making the switch to veganism. Just to be clear: you can be a healthy athlete who is on a vegan diet. If you are struggling with that, you should consult a dietician who has experience with athletes. And perhaps it is a better idea to start with a flexitarian diet and make your way towards veganism a little bit more slowly. This way you can adapt step-by-step.

Phil Gaimon has a few nice videos about nutrition. He isn’t vegan, but I find his advice applies to all diets. His approach is simple: make sure you have enough protein and fat, and then add carbs to balance your calorie requirements. As a vegan you should up your protein intake a little anyway, because apart from something like tofu, most vegan sources of protein have lower bioavailability. If you want to build muscle, this is going to be crucial.

IMHO this is not a sign of overtraining, but of serious underfueling.

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I’m going to be careful how I write this, because I want to help, not accuse or name call. 1. providing your body mass without a corresponding height provides only half of an equation. You may feel that 62-64kg is healthy for your height, but I’d be nearly dead at that mass.

I hope that your youth and zeal for your recently adopted diet can come to a happy conclusion. To do so, PLEASE find a professional in the field of nutrition who has experience with both vegan diets AND endurance training, preferably one who has been on the diet themselves for several years while training for performance improvement, not simply to complete an endurance goal (there’s a significant difference).

I’m not doing the math with any significant accuracy, but when “dinner” is fancy greens and dressing, I’m pretty sure you aren’t fueling any sort of recovery with that. That’s what many athletes call “salad” or “balance” and most modern adults (even healthy ones) consider a snack before “real” dinner. You should get something more in your system after your rides.

If for some reason you can’t afford, or can’t find a professional with personal vegan experience AND performance endurance training, start your bare minimum adjustments by finding a way to get enough calories from carbs to fuel your workouts. In 75 minutes, you’re probably burning between 400 and 800 calories, and each calorie should be fueled above your normal “walking around” energy. And it probably should be consumed as a carbohydrate, and shouldn’t be consumed at the same time as high fat AND high fiber nuts and seeds, as both of those can slow digestion and uptake of carbs and glucose.

Then figure out how to get more protein throughout the day, particularly the day of, and day after your lifting days.

Good luck.

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Trying to increase fitness on the bike + pushing heavier and heavier weights at the gym + under-fueling (as evidenced by your 4kg loss in weight) is not tenable over the long term.

If I’m pushing to increase my gains on the bike but want to retain my strength training sessions, I just adjust my gym workouts to be maintenance sessions that retain a certain level of strength/fitness. The only time I push to see significant gains in the gym is during off-season, when I’m doing more manageable low impact endurance rides.

You may also want to consider a vegan protein shake that you can also blend in with some fruit as an intraday snack or evening meal to easily get some cals/protein in. Brown rice with lentils and veggies are also a good aggregate to the lunch meal you described above (will help up your cals and protein). English muffins with some vegan butter will help up the carbs/fats are also an option to consider. I think there is a was TR podcast a while back where Pete shared some of his favorite vegan meals. May want to look for that episode to give you an idea how a fellow vegan fueled his work on the bike.

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Without knowing exactly how large your portion sizes are it’s difficult to say for sure, but your description sounds as if you could be eating less than 1000cal a day. Your description of breakfast sounds to be ~300 calories, lunch maybe 500, dinner possibly less than 200.

That is potentially low enough to literally kill yourself from starvation over a period of weeks at your age/weight/gender, even without doing any physical activity.

If you are unable to convince yourself to eat more, starting right now, you need to seek medical attention.

I recently ate a whole grain toast and I magically got some energy and then was able to have a deeper sleep that night!

This is potentially far beyond just a question of training, and drifting into health problem territory. What you are noticing here is what happens to patients who are literally starving due to disordered eating. This is not normal. You need to eat a lot more dude!

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This post hits home with me. 10 years ago I went vegan and it has been a long journey to get to where I am at now with the diet. Prior to going vegan, I was vegetarian and my motivation was weight loss. I drastically cut calories and looking back all those years (I lost 70 lbs) I probably had an eating disorder. Being a vegan athlete is definitely a difference ball game than a normal diet. I am happy to hear you are supplementing with B-12 (the number one vitamin we need) but, I too am concerned that you are not eating enough. Although I do not use it anymore, I used an app such as my fitness pal to log my carbohydrate intake. At a minimum being 72 kg I would at least want 300g of carbs a day and your diet example doesn’t even seam like you are reaching half if not a quarter of that. A cup of steel cut oats maybe has 100g of carbs. Fiber can also reduce the amount of protein you can absorb on this diet too through something called the “cofactor of digest ability” The nature of trainer road workouts are also demanding at sweet spot. I have to watch my on bike fueling strategies depending on the length of the workout (1 hour plus especially). You also have to come to terms with supplementation. I use a cheap pea protein supplement that provides 20 g per day along with an entire can of beans daily (much to my families resistance lol). Complex carbohydrates makes up the other sources of my protein (often brown rice with the beans) to give up to 30g of protein+ as my dinner. The example diet you provided seams like its low in calories, protein, carbs, and fat in general (which is 9 calories per gram). A qualified dietitian will definitely expedite the process of your learning and also ensure you are not causing any harm, but a good resource I turn to are websites like nutritionfacts.org which provided at a minimum an “optimal nutrition intake” section of the website that goes over essential nutrients not to miss following this diet. Other resources include harvards nutrition source (which isn’t vegan but a better general nutrition information website for dietary advise), the vegan athlete book “thrive” is also a good one but his recipes can be overly complex. In summary, definitely increase calorie intake. Ask yourself the motivating reasons behind this change to a vegan diet. For health, then seek better resources for building a more complete diet. If its weight loss, I would talk to someone about it. Because knowing that was my motivation back then, it pushed me into dangerous territory mentally and physically.

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I’d say you need more carbs and protein!

That said, you can get both and remain vegan. Once you increase those, you’ll feel and perform better.

I would highly recommend getting a blood test done so you and your doctor can see if there are any underlying issues. It was something I did when I was losing weight and feeling fatigued. The tests showed that I had anemia and had very low testosterone levels. Jonathan did a very good podcast a while back about a chap who had similar issues and may be worth a listen.

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I wholly agree on the blood tests. In my late 30’s I was with a coach and following what was I think the equivalent of something between a LV and MV plan. in 2017 I was the club champion in 2017 (admittedly because the best rider couldn’t be bothered to do the needed HC, the 2nd best rider broke his collarbone, another rider who could probably beat me was inconsistent and the rider I was on par with couldn’t be bothered with the HC either). Then almost overnight I became like an 80 year old man, no energy, etc. After me and a lot of others putting it down to overtraining a few other folk convinced me to see a doc. I had stubbornly done the LEJOG beforehand. A simple blood test diagnosed anemia. I subsequently changed my diet from 90% vegan to more meat to try and up my iron intake. It was only then that the classic symptoms of my underlying problem started to show. Beforehand whilst I had the occasional sore stomach they were 6 months apart and tolerable, after the change of diet they became more frequent and intolerable. That blood test though had started a deeper series of tests and the last one, a colonoscopy, found my underlying problem Bowel/colon cancer. I was rushed into hospital within a week and almost immediately after it was removed I was back to normal and soon better than that (even during chemotherapy). Now at 46, going on last years results, I am faster TT wise than I have ever been. I was one lucky B and I would highly recommend also the simple blood test. Its almost guaranteed just to be only a change of diet needed @yajvans but if it does show things up the early the are caught the better. Early enough the colonoscopy can scrape it out and there’s no need for surgery. In my late 30s I thought I was too young for the ‘C’ thing especially as I was fit and healthy and at that time there was no family history (my 79yo mother got diagnosed 2 years after me) but I have subsequently read about a lot of folk half my age getting the same diagnosis but not being as lucky. Similarly thinking there too young and their doctor thinking the same and when its finally diagnosed its burst out of the colon and spread and at which point it might be too late. I was fortunate my doctor wasn’t as laid back as me. I don’t want to scare you but I recommend for your piece of mind getting that blood test done ASAP.

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This is less than my “I feel like eating a bit more today” addition. I can eat twice this on top of my “normal” food and would not notice a difference.
I am much older with a similar weight.
Go figure.

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I resonate a little with this post, In my early twenties I got into a vegan diet (I WAS shamefully a durianrider follower, although admittedly he does go on and on about consuming vast amounts of sugar which he is completely right!) while I was a long distance runner and dropped down to 56-57kg @ 5’10!

Without making my response too long - I’d just like to re-iterate what everyone is saying, you need to eat way way way way more, especially with an FTP 280+ you’re probably burning 900cal per hour in your z3+ workouts. While its really fantastic you are trying to stick to raw and natural foods - it isn’t gonna help you reach your calorie demands. A large portion of your calories as an endurance athlete is gonna come from simple carbs - especially when you’re burning 1000 extra calories per day.
So, while Its great you are trying to eat healthy - try your best to add some pasta/rice and even raw sugar to fuel your workouts and you will be super solid.

My opinion (I’m no expert) but as a fellow vegan student; you can start by

Pre-workout/Breakfast - Add sugar and pea protein in your oats in the morning! Makes it taste way better anyway.

During Workout - Starting feeling your workouts with carb drinks, I use just granulated sugar and salt - its cheap and accessible - as a student it saved me money then spending loads on overpriced sports drink mix! It has a 1:1 ratio from glucose and fructose, which is close to beta-fuels 1:0.8 and better than the old tradition of 1:2. I do 40g if its only an hour, anything more I consume 60g per hour. I weigh 65kg.

Post-workout - Have a recovery drink, some pea protein powder and sugar works.

*Fuel all your workouts that is z3+ and longer than 60m, keep your dates for z2 60m workouts.

*Try to add pasta/rice/couscous to your meals - especially during a training week.

You’re likely to get a big boost of fitness - meaning you’re gonna start burning more and more calories - so don’t stop the eating, keep eating and eat more!

Although, I completely understand how difficult it is to convince yourself that stuffing yourself with 1000 extra calories per day with basically junk, its hard to believe that it is good for you, and it’s easy to just ignore it and skip the extra meal you’d need per day, but just understand your body needs it! Don’t see it as food, see it as fuel!

I still struggle with this! Especially during rest weeks! But give it a try! Trust the process! and good luck :slight_smile:

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As a recent vegan convert (since October 2021) I thought I would chime in with my experience. Again, no expert, but having initially dropped some weight (circa 2.5kg) from the diet change and in turn recognising I needed to alter my fuelling allowances to maintain good health and my performance on the bike I thought outlining what I eat on a typical day might help.

For context, I am circa 63kg with a FTP of 320w so am burning about 800kcal per hour on my z2 rides.

General Workout Fuelling Principles:

  • z2 < 90m - nothing, I rely on the fuelling from the day before (something I probably need to change)
  • z2 > 90m - carb drink mix looking at roughly 40g per/hour
  • z3 and above > 90m - carb drink mix looking at roughly 60g per/hour supplemented with additional carbs through raisins bars or similar

Yesterday Example (Normal day at desk with a 2hr VO2Max + z2 ride in morning ~ 1600kcl):

Breakfast:

  • Porridge - 130g porridge with 40g raisins with oat milk

Mid Morning:

  • Mixed nuts and raisins, fruit, raw/ pre-cooked vegetables, crackers with humous, etc

Lunch:

  • 2x burrito style wraps packed full of humous, salad, tomatoes, peppers, pulses, vegetables, sweet potatoes, and a meat free protein
  • Yoghurt

Mid Afternoon:

  • Mixed nuts and raisins, fruit, raw/ pre-cooked vegetables, crackers with humous, etc

Dinner:

  • Large portion of rice, butternut squash, onions, peppers, tomatoes

Later Evening:

  • Rice pudding with jam
  • Cereal with raisins (top up carbs for z2 ride this morning > 90m)

Seems I eat a lot of raisins on reflection :smiley: I still have lots of work to do to get better at this nutrition lark too but hope this helps…

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A good thing in my non expert opinion, nuts and raisins I believe have more energy than anything man made (gels etc) just they are not quite as convenient to carry :+1:

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They are my go to alternative for putting on top of stuff - cereal, yoghurt, rice pudding, etc. to avoid raw sugar off the bike if possible!

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I don’t mind raw sugar off the bike along as its close to/directly related to on-the-bike work. Rest weeks, I’ll hold off sugar - but I still eat loads of carbs, just more natural and healthier (nutrient dense) alternatives. But when you’re eating 3000+ cal a day as a 65kg human at a healthy weight, some cals from raw sugar is fine imo.

I don’t snack at all, but your intermediate meals of nuts and raisins has inspired me :slight_smile:

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Agreed with the above, if that diet is accurate then that is surely what’s causing the issues… I would not be able to move!

I usually have a high carb snack 60-90 minutes before my midweek workouts (coincidentally I usually have a Trek vegan protein oat bar although I am not vegan) and a recovery shake afterwards, which adds up to around 500 calories extra - I am looking to have a bit of deficit each day but it’s more important to actually be able to do the workouts effectively, better to make up the deficit elsewhere. Workouts are typically 600 to 700+ calories for me so this is still a slight undershoot.

Arugula is just what we call rocket in the UK right? That dinner needs to be bulked out significantly IMO. I would not be able to sleep properly if I did a workout then went to bed eating that little (unless the dressing is somehow really bulky!). I used to do that when I first started training and was being ambitious with the weight loss, if I do a hard workout then go to bed without eating properly before or after, with a big calorie deficit, I will wake up feeling like absolute cr@p.

What the OP has down for his daily meals all of it is about what I eat in 1 meal. Don’t be scared to eat and get help if you’re struggling with the subject. You have to find out what works for you. A lot of people on here don’t eat much IMO especially with fueling workouts.
Everyone has their way of eating and you need to find yours.

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