Am I doing this right? Training Schedule

I have shown great improvements last year with a structured schedule (after riding non-structured 3 years and hitting a wall for 6 months with no improvements) but I think I didn’t have enough recovery weeks thrown in and ended up having mental fatigue. With a few unlucky weeks where we had forest fires in CA (made it pretty impossible to ride indoors or out where I live) and crazy work load and sickness, I pretty much hit rock bottom.

I made and followed what I think is a better schedule below and have made great way back into my peak fitness in the last 3.5 months. While I haven’t hit my peak of last year yet, I’m slowly (slowly is the key word here. Last time felt like I improved almost too fast and couldn’t hold on to it) getting back there.

What do you think of this on paper? I’m hoping it will make my improvements more gradually and the strict recovery weeks will ensure I won’t be overly fatigued in the long run.

For reference I don’t race but I just wanna keep improving my overall power curve and FTP as much as I can until hitting my genetic limit.

Monday off
Tuesday 1-1.5 hours Interval training
Wednesday 1-1.5 hours Interval training
Thursday off
Friday 2 hours outside with a mix of hard efforts thrown in
Saturday off
Sunday 4+ or 5+ hours endurance ride with a few threshold efforts thrown in

I sometimes substitute off days with recovery days where I truly stick to recovery watts and take it very easy. They tend to be 1hr to 80 mins.
I repeat this schedule for 4 weeks and take an easy week where the training load is halved and I have a one hour test day where I test my 1sec, 5min, 20min efforts.

My form dips into -30 maybe once in those 4 weeks. Otherwise fluctuates between 0 and -23.
My easy week gets me back up to around +5 and I lose a bit of CTL (but always end up in a higher CTL than last easy week so overall trend is up)

It’s really hard to give you accurate answers without knowing a lot about you, your goals and your background. A few thoughts:

  • What are your goals? Do you have a goal event in mind?
  • Depending on the nature of the intervals on Tuesday and Wednesday, I would split those days up with an easy or off day in between. I wouldn’t have you conducting HIIT back-to-back days.
  • Your construct of 4 weeks work, 1 week adaptation/recovery could be fine for you, or it could be too much. That depends on your age, training history, outside stressors, and the intensity of the work you’re putting in each week.
  • Are you allowing CTL to dip periodically upon completion of your macrocycles? In other words, are you backing off once or twice a year such that your CTL will dip allowing your body a bit of a break? You probably won’t be able to sustain a continuous CTL ramp for more than a few months. Think of this as two steps forward, one step back, with that step back not really being negotiable if you want to keep stepping forward over the long haul.

As a general rule, motivated self-coached athletes, particularly those who are relatively new to the sport, tend to train too much, train too hard on their easy days or too easy on their hard days, and recover too little.

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While you’re here, have you tried using TR training plans? They have excellent plans designed for whatever style of riding you want to improve on.

I can send you a free month to try it out. Just DM me your email.

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Too much intensity. Maybe switch it around to:

Mon: off
Tue: HIT 90mins make it super hard!
Wed: easy 120mins
Thu: off
Fri: keep
Sat: off
Sun: keep the duration don’t worry about the efforts

Or follow the trainer road method and make gains that way.

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how often did you take a true rest week when you got mentally fatigued?

with the above schedule, you may benefit from 3 weeks on, 1 week off; 4 can be a bit much for most athletes, myself included, month after month.

slow growth is definitely better than a fast one as you mentioned, especially since you don’t have a specific event date planned.

i like the intervals T W, but make sure they aren’t both massive intensity like vo2max; that’s too much.

I’d go easier friday, just endurance, and save the efforts for Sunday.

do you use Training Peaks? Happy to link up there and take a look at your historical data, especially the burn out phase.

Have a great morning.

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My last time wasn’t as structured besides a weekly schedule. I took off days when I didn’t want to ride or didn’t feel it in my legs etc. Definitely didn’t take planned easier weeks.

Yes. My T W intervals definitely hit different types of workouts. One is more around FTP and longer efforts while the other is Vo2max. I can hit target watts both days usually so I kept the schedule as is.

My burnout was honestly 100% mental. It was a bit more embarrassing than the usual I trained so hard that I can’t anymore. There was a bit of that but mostly it started with a f’ed up power meter. I can’t tell you how much does numbers can f with your head.

I won’t name brands but I had a well known widely used PM that measured really high outside and really low inside. I’ve tested this so many times that I’m 100% sure of it. The discrepancy was so high that it was easily noticeable but I just chalked it up to me just sucking on a trainer or just not being able to do intervals effectively or something. Funny thing is it started alright. I would barely finish my integrals in the beginning. Maybe fail on the last repeat occasionally but get there and get the work done. As my FTP increased (I’d use my outside 20 min as a base which was obviously way higher) I’d adjust my interval values for inside. After a while, I just couldn’t hold the watts. I’d fail 2 sets in. 3 sets in. My TSS would end up way lower than planned but I’d feel dead. Whatever it is. It demoralized and confused me a lot although I’d still kick ass outside. My FTP really did increase relative to my old and I’d be faster on all the climbs so I really had no idea what was going on. That combined with no real recovery weeks made me come up with excuses and justifications to not do the 4+ 5+ hour weekend rides or divide them up into two to have an easier time hitting my TSS numbers etc.

I’m mostly thankful for the perspective I have now after dropping all that fitness. I was the guy who freaks out if there’s an unplanned vacation or I couldn’t enjoy my get away with my gf fully because losing fitness would be at the back of my mind etc. That’s no way to live. Getaways and vacations where you lose fitness a little for a week or 2 should really be enjoyed to the fullest. If you get into the mindset where you freak out when you don’t hit your target for a day or two or where you get sick, unbreathable air (forest fires in CA) gets you even further down from a mental standpoint. Which is ultimately what happened to me among other things.

Your mental perspective is definitely a healthy one now with respect to vacations and losing fitness on your mind… believe me, been there, done that. The reality is that a week of very little or no training is not going to be detrimental if you’ve got a couple of months prior to your key event. I just try to stay active - hiking, maybe a workout in a hotel gym, walking, a beach cruiser ride with the wife, whatever - and enjoy the time, making sure I’m fully dedicated to time with her.

I’d definitely steer you away from doing Threshold followed by VO2max on back to back days. You might be able to get through those two workouts fine, but in my opinion, doing that consistently contributes to your mental fatigue. Frankly, your plan makes it such that every ride is beating you down, and that can really take away from the enjoyment of riding, when you know each time you get on the bike you’re just going to bludgeon yourself.

You mentioned not wanting to get on the bike on Sunday for 4 or 5 hours - why are you? What’s your goal event? That’s a long, long ride, especially when you’re throwing in intensity at random.

Again, tough to give you the right level of feedback without knowing more, but those are a few more thoughts. In general - too much intensity, not enough planned downtime both off the bike and on it. @Supermurph19 has a good idea with his proposed schedule. I might change Friday to your 60-90 min threshold day, so you have two good, structured interval days, and then two days outside. I think you really need to have an easier day, even if it’s two hours, and I think you need to evaluate why you’re doing 4-5 hours outside every Sunday. Maybe do it every other week, and do 2 or 3 hours every other week, just for the mental break, if nothing else.

I think the “why” on 4-5 hours ride is tied to my other unhealthy obsession with my CTL and TSS numbers. Another habit I need to break. Especially when I know I performed my best (from just power numbers point of view) last year when I started lowering the amount of riding. For reference I hit 90 CTL last year and once it dropped around 70’s (after not wanting to do the long rides anymore) I felt like I failed. I was still PR’ing on climbs but in my mind I lost. Looking back it feels so dumb.

Perhaps I might need a more specific goal than being versatile or “ready for any situation.” Versatility is important but sacrificing one important goal for another less important one seems to make no sense in the end.

I’m really obsessed with progression so anything I can measure either by numbers or perception that I can improve upon seems to end up being a goal of mine. If I suck on a climb towards the end of a 4 hour ride one week and feel noticeably better 2 weeks later, that just feels good knowing my endurance is progressing. Things like that.

For what its worth though if I had to choose one I’d always go for 1 to 2 hour maximum efforts. I know this is hard on you mentally but I truly get the most enjoyment out of these. Braking power records, not remembering a moment where I “took it easy” besides descending on a 2 hour ride is really what ticks all the boxes for me. As you suggested though, I might benefit from doing these more sparingly.

While I don’t race, I know that I would enjoy 1-2 hour races much more. Idea of crits is super exciting. Only thing holding me back is the idea that I might crash, get injured and not able to ride for months. I guess that’s not a way to live but measuring yourself is so easy in cycling now with all the data available that I feel like I get satisfaction purely by racing myself.

Anyway going off topic there but maybe it goes back to what I love doing and chasing that instead of trying to do everything all at once. I’m back at 74 CTL as of today. I think I might wanna keep it at this level instead of trying to push it up more and more for no particular reason. I did VO2 and a treshold sessions already this week. I was planning on a hard 1:30 hours ride today. But I’ll take your advice and take it easy and enjoy the sun instead. Then adjust next week accordingly so my intervals are far apart.

Thanks for all the advice! Please comment if you have more. I should’ve asked for advice long ago.

CTL is just a contrived number. It doesn’t demonstrate progress. Being faster (those climb PRs) does. And most often, you’re going to achieve those PRs by allowing CTL to sag a bit, lowering ATL, and getting TSB positive. That’s the gist of a peak. Seems like you’ve learned that you can’t be at peak fitness all the time. It’s detrimental, in fact, to try because you burnout or get injured. Lots of athletes learn this the hard way.

I think you do need a goal event to work towards so you can train specificity, get more out of your time on the bike and limit those 5 hour slogs you’re doing for no discernible reason (other than maybe you enjoy them… that’s a “thing” too). You mentioned crits, and said that a 1-2 hour all-out type event would be your ideal and what you like. I’d suggest time trials over crits. First, Cat 5 crits are like 20 minutes long. You might be able to ride off the front and just have a good hard effort for 20 min, but maybe not. Crits can be one way to gain upgrade points until you’re racing the hour-long crits you see in the videos. But I wouldn’t limit yourself to one type of racing when you don’t know much about your racing self. Maybe you’re an all-world TTer?

Injuries are part of any sport - crashes are part of cycling. Most folks can get back on a trainer pretty quickly after even nasty crashes where collarbones break and such. So while it’s a setback, it’s part of the sport.

I told my wife I was going to race a couple of crits this coming weekend and she kind of rolled her eyes, and she knows she might get (another) call from someone about me being in an ambulance. She knows it’s part of the deal. At least this time it won’t be happening six weeks before our wedding as it was last time she got that call 8 years ago!

Oh sorry I meant Crits as well as 1-2 hour TT type stuff. The prospect of both of those sound fun to me.

I totally get it about injuries and risks. I tracked and then raced motos for a few years. I guess the prospect of not being able to train and losing months of work (fitness) is the scary part. It’s fairly easy to come back on motos. Just couple track days and your brain and motor skills are back to where you were for the most part.

But yes. I get it. I agree that would be a more solid goal to train towards too instead of arbitrary stuff.

With that said, time for a ride! Thanks again :slight_smile:

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those weeks aren’t losing fitness, they are resting, where you actually get stronger. I would love to see your Training Peaks files!

Back with an update!
I gotta say I’m very glad I posted here. I’ve been doing more easier rides in between and currently on an easy week where I cut my volume in half. Rides feel great and joyful. Pushing hard again next week doesn’t look like a daunting task but one I’m looking forward to. Sprint efforts thrown in (but not overdone) feel amazing.

I have also signed up for my first race ever (June 1st) and I am training towards that. It’s 2:20-2:30 hour road race with 3 major climbs and finish is on top of the 3rd climb. It’s a 7-8 minute effort (35+ cat 4-5) if you wanna finish in top 5-8, granted you’ve not been dropped by the group until that point.

It really shaped how I structure my max efforts. Training towards a specific goal really does help. My major focus now is trying to push max watts I can on an 8 minute climb at the end of a tempo / treshold 2 hour ride. I have the luxary of training on the exact course I’ll race too which is giving me insight to how much and when to eat / drink.

The goal really got me extra focused and excited. :+1:

Now if I can drop 3 more lbs and keep my power by race day, that’d be great help on that climb :slight_smile:

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