Beginner Tips, nutrition, stress management

Hello! I am 30 year female and family medicine physician living in Colorado that started cycling ~2 years ago. When I first started I just rode with friends, exploring and have slowly become obsessed. I now have a turbo trainer, Garmin pedal power meter and have been doing trainer road for ~1 month in the low volume General Build and very slowly seeing some improvements.

Current stats are: 172 FTP, 73 kg

My background has been in CrossFit, Olympic weight lifting and I shine with short sprints. I tried only cycling last spring that resulted in more knee pain (patellofemoral syndrome), but this has improved with more stretching and strength training. My goal would be to a very well balanced endurance athlete that can try out some more intense ground prides but can still sometimes lift heavy things. I am currently doing some general strength (legs, arms, combo) 3x a week to build a good base. I am usually doing ~ 7-8 RPE strength with sets of 8-10.

I am finding with work stress, lifting and cycling I am very exhausted. My Garmin watch is yelling about low HRV and overreaching.

I would love some tips or ways to improve general fitness and endurance. I would like to hear some people’s opinions on frequency of strength training, especially for people who started with strength and are trying to transition endurance. Should I cut down on rides & lifting on very stressful weeks when I seem to crash after work or should I continue for stress management?

Thanks for all the input! I am loving the community and traineroad!

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so hard to give good advice without a lot more detail, however it appears you are seeing signs of being unable to recover from all the hard work + life stress. I had a similar issue, and simply started doing more low intensity rides and within 3-4 months got faster. After 15 months my resting HR and HRV improved, a lot. I listen to Scientific Triathlon podcast, they interview a lot of coaches and a common theme is something along the lines of most working athletes underestimate the ability to recover and are doing too many hard workouts. Most of the gains in endurance sports come from long hours at relatively low intensity, plus some mid to high intensity.

My calendar is filled with endurance rides to build better base fitness, to support more intense training in the spring. Plus about 30 minutes of high intensity, and some mid intensity as “spring” in CA starts in February. For context I’m twice your age, male, high stress job, and at my age recovery is challenging. However I’ve slowly built up to consistently doing 8-11 hour weeks plus 1-2 hours of strength maintenance, and keep seeing gains despite age. A lot of that is newbie gains, I started 7 years ago.

In the context of TR, if you keep the strength work then I’d recommend looking at traditional base 1 and 2 combined with lifting. I’ve done traditional base 1 back to back and kept increasing the amount of time per session. And then traditional base 2 once I was happy with ability to recover from strength+cycling workouts. The LV polarized plans might have you doing too much high intensity, and the same with SSB. In general the TR LV plans have a lot of intensity, even more than the higher volume plans - the exception is Traditional Base 1 and 2 in either LV or MV.

Hope that helps.


Couple of suggestions. First is I’d focus on either strength or cycling fitness for blocks of time instead of trying to advance both at once. ie, curtail lifting to what you need to do to maintain your current level of strength while focusing on harder cycling workouts, or visa versa. Similar to how many people lift more in the off season than during race season. Or, for triathlete’s, focusing on one sport for awhile while just maintaining the other two.

Second is that group rides have a skill component that you can work on somewhat independently of that. It’s probably still a hard ride but learning to be as lazy as possible on it will help.

My garmin watch tends to yell at me a lot also. Not about HRV per se, but if I listened to the recovery times it spits out I’d never get anything done.

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Hello, welcome!

You say you’ve been in TR for a month doing general build - did you do any base work on TR? As a newer cyclist, building base is key and I’d start with that. @WindWarrior gave you some good advice about which plans to use; I’ve used those in the past and had good results from them.

I currently cycle 4-5 days/week and lift twice/week. At times of stress I tend to keep the workouts but reduce the intensity. 30 minutes of riding easy and watching some netflix or listening to some music is better for me personally than struggling through (or not finishing) a harder workout. Only you know what your preference is when it comes to stress management.


I did do base for about 3-4 weeks but didn’t know if I would benefit from VO2 more than the threshold and sweet spot listed in base. What do you and @WindWarrior think?

To build endurance, you need endurance rides. I’d leave the sweetspot, threshold, and especially vo2max workouts until your body tolerates the training load of lifting + endurance rides (plus work stress, which is likely the largest amount of stress).

Most people could probably benefit from vo2max work, but also most cannot recover well enough for it, due to other life factors. The idea of doing all the HIT work is nice, but you’d be building a house without a foundation - after a bit, something is going to crumble.

The TR LV plans have a lot of intensity, so it is sometimes (weirdly) better to choose a MV plan and then swap out the high-intensity sessions for your strength training. Depending how you get on with it, then try doing 1 or 2 of the higher-intensity sessions per week.

@splash So I realized that I was only looking at base sweet spot. I started the base endurance LV set 1 due to time constraints with work. I am going to cut down on strength work 2x a week and lighten the weights. Hopefully that helps! Thanks for all the input

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