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.
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!