Aging athletes question... what works for you?

Oh random internet denizens bestow your wisdom.

Was bitten by the bike racing bug back in the 70’s when I was little beyond a toddler and saw a continental bike race on a midday sports omnibus on the TV. It was clearly somewhere exotic in Flanders. One cyclist on a gleaming chrome machine crashed on some horrendous cobbles in the middle of a town from an old war movie. His hairnet did nothing to stop said cobbles from staving in his noggin. Never mind… he jumped up and got back on his bike. A little jet of claret fouling the lens of the hand held camera as it chased him down the road. Two medics sprinted into the frame to remove him from his bike… he almost fought them off. It didn’t help that these two medics were dressed precisely like my local butcher. You can imagine the impact of this on my sheltered little mind… It was the most horrendous, gruesome and totally captivating thing I had seen. I was hooked absolutely and totally done.

Anyway turns out I was completely useless at racing the bike. Ah well, love riding it. So being sort of doing that since with the usual crop of sportives as training targets (if I could even use the word for what I did… rode 80 KM last ride so 90 this one, best take the hilly route this week ). I muddled through them more or less had fun. Usual breaks for other sports, Uni and family etc.

Years roll by…

Start really struggling to get through the sportives. Decide to try this structured training lark read up on all this periodization and blocking thing. Do a half assed job but see some credible results. Two years ago committed to TR. Fantastic results. Broke PR’s on all the climbs. Mind you it didn’t feel that way going up them at the time! More evidence for Le Monde’s adage.

Anyway this year, the second on TR has been a bit of a disaster. First half was fine managed to stick to the plan but struggled more in the sessions, perhaps the novelty had worn off a bit. First A race was in April. Did ok… not as well as I had hoped. Second A race next week. Am nowhere near where I hoped to be. It will be a trial. TR plans fell apart in May.

Just couldn’t do it. Stopped and went rode my bike… then just kinda kept riding and falling back to the old way of ‘training’. “Weather is too nice.” “I have packed away the pain cave”. “I just need a few trips through the scenery to reset”… By then I was far gone. The do your TR outdoors came a tad too late for me there. I had already fallen off the wagon so to speak.

Finally this week coming to the end of a block and heading into a taper. The last few rides have been pure unmitigated grind with dead legs. Got to thinking this 3:1 work week to rest ratio is probably not doing me any favors. Noted a couple of other ‘masters’ class posters out there implying the same. Stating that they had gone on a 2:1 ratio.

Now I read Friels fast after 50. Lot to take away from that and I have to say I have on-boarded most of what he said. It was part of the reason I adopted TR… A more HIIT based approach. He did make note of the aging athletes need for extra recovery but his suggestion was more to transition from a 7 day cycle to a 10 day cycle with extra rest days… Well I work a 9 to 5 so I have a 7 day cycle whether I want one or not. So I parked that said yes on the rest thing but never really executed. Started thinking that perhaps that was the primary reason I failed on the plans this year: I was over reaching in the last week. Then under-recovered for the next block.

So masters riders out there how do you modify the TR plans to suit your rest needs?

Just ride your bike and carry on loving it!! Sometimes ride hard, sometimes go easy. Make sure you rest sometimes.

I found that just sticking to a low volume plan gives me enough rest to make it through the plan without much modification.

If I’m feeling okay (and my HRV reading is okay), I’ll venture out for a group ride, but usually take it easy in the back and cut the ride short.

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Here are two options for how to take the 5:1 work:recovery standard Sweet Spot Base plans and make the 4:1.

A similar approach could be applied to other plans as needed (like the 2:1 you mention).

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I see what you are doing there. In fairness the SSB was pretty straight forward and never a struggle. It was in the Build and Speciality that I found I fell apart. Thanks I will have play with it. May also give the POL stuff a try during transition. Notting to lose then.

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I’ll take a different approach. Why are you riding? Is it to get healthier, get faster, reduce stress, enjoy time outdoors?

As a 60 year old mountain and gravel rider I’m not going to win races. I’m excited when I get an age group podium. But it’s not my end goal. I want to be outside with my friends, even if they are 20 or more years younger than me, enjoying life. If I get faster in the process great. I’m still going to put in the work my body can handle and try not to get too frustrated if I need an extra day off to recover.

So listen to what your body is saying. If you need a day off, an easy spin, or time outside without being tied to your training schedule, go for it. Five years from know will you remember the workout you suffered through or the laughs you had with a friend over a beer post ride.

Hope I don’t get thrown out of the forum for this opinion. You may not get faster but you might have more fun, and who doesn’t need more fun.

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Substantially!

I’m 61 (approaching 62 shortly :slight_smile: , and perform at a high level for my age (I’ll skip details that may appear as bravado). I “followed” the SSB MV I and II plan during base, but made MAJOR changes. [I also created my own Build].

Highlights of the “rest changes” include:

  1. Full recovery days between hard workouts. I’m old school on this philosophy - I believe hard days should be really hard (!) and easy days really easy (!).
  2. Longer rest intervals on sweet spot (88-94), threshold (94-99) and lactate clearing (95/105 OUs). I adjust RIs to have HR get into endurance range for these three types of workouts before starting the next interval.
  3. This is not technically a “rest change”, but I do much longer warmups than TR prescribes on HIIT sessions, including customization, such as cadence work. I find it extremely important that muscles are warm and joints are flexible before any HIIT session. [note: I also do longer cool downs]

On the flip side, my hard days are generally a lot harder than TR’s SSB plan call for. My daily volume of Time-in-Zone [TiZ] during Base ranged from 1.25x to 2.0x TR’s hard workouts (sweet spot, threshold and FTP/threshold clearing). [I follow Tim Cusick’s training protocol (WKO product lead) of progressively increasing TiZ for each of those training zones in order to increase fatigue resistance. To do so, I import TR’s workouts into WorkoutCreator and make the modifications to meet my day’s TiZ training goals as well as incorporate the warmup and RI mentioned above].

As for the 2:1, 3:1, 4:1, etc., my base period was about 2x TR’s due to the approach I took so it was probably closer to 12:1. However, this was not an issue as it was all metered by recovery days during the period.

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51 now. Highly variable schedule due to career. I need really specific goals and it really helps to be involved or around guys with similar aspirations. Being held accountable is definitely a motivator for me. My group uses the same coaching and nutrition service to stay on target peaking and getting lean. As I have aged strength and core training is more important than ever. Eating lean and clean is also more noticeable a performance enhancer. Fast competitive group rides keep me engaged and keep each week fun. Not that riding solo isn’t fun just a different stimulus I crave…

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I’m Currently 65. In my 50’s I was a mid pack Master’s racer in the NorCal scene. Off the bike for 9 years due to work pressure and a medical condition. Recently started riding. Found the TR plans didn’t quite fit due to having a remote history, but basically no miles in my legs. I started training polarized in June, and have made great progress in terms of “durability”, but still have an FTP < 200 watts. I plan to continue with the polarized plan for another 6 weeks, then move to SSB MV, on a 2 week/1 recovery week schedule with some longer endurance rides in the recovery week. I was over 3 watts/kg when racing, and would like to get back there. I’m consistently off the back on the weekend group rides currently.

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Doc,
I get what you are saying. For me it is less the destination and more the journey. I love riding the bike, don’t we all? I love getting to the point where I can take on a particular, familiar climb in one of my sportives and only notice it after I have passed it. Or get up a feared one with much less cost than I had anticipated spending. I find a wonderful sense of grace in those moments, who doesn’t? The preparation that goes into building those moments is all a part of it for me.

My expectations are not driven by my age or history but by the moment I find myself in. As we age, in particular, so many variables are beyond our control but the training isn’t one of them. I am not a control freak but I would rather leave it all on the road and not regret a moment I could have turned to good use. For some the ability to get to that place comes easier than others. I have always been a hard gainer as the gym monkies have it. I still want to get those moments though. We all have our limits, for me finding mine, low as they may be, and even as they change, is my idea of fun.

As you say the crucial bit is to listen to your body. Not really something I did in my youth. It was simply there to be exploited. Now I do hence why I am here. Each to their own

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Thanks for that Bob,

That jives with what has been happening to me (and Joel Friels recommendations). The SSB was pretty straightforward for me and I could feel the progression working. The fatigue if that is even the right word for it was fine. When I was in the Build this year it started to get ragged quickly, so perhaps I should have extended the base as you do. I did a similar thing to you on the rest intervals but it was more ad hoc than planned in. I would target a low heart rate to hit and if I hadn’t hit it by the time I was 1:20 out from the next On interval, I would back pedal. That started to work a bit but perhaps not enough and I should really go for opening the rest intervals.

I am a believer in cadence for sure… mind you in my youth I was dissed as a spinner, during the EPO era I was dissed as a grinder. Now I am back to being dissed as a spinner. My preferred cadence hasn’t changed since I was a kid: 95 rpm pre-base and 100 rpm post. Although it seems to take an ever longer time both in the season, and in a given ride for the higher cadence to manifest itself. I usually do the TR session first thing in the morning and use my commute as a cool down so I follow you there.

Biggest impact is the need for recovery after hard rides. If I push myself to hard things spiral down. I am age 59, riding a few years and also deal with a chronic disease(Crohns). Never can tell if my age or my disease is my limiter. Suffice to say I am improving and feeling stronger when riding outside. Not sure how it will translate when I retest and start another block of training though.

I will say in the last few years I have had numerous aches/pains etc which meant going to physio and working on my core. Learning when to stop vs when to push is one of my challenges. Age doesnt always mean you are smarter pushing through some pain. Sometimes you are supposed to stop.

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