Best way to train? Got a bit stuck

10th of July I did a two-day endurance event (250km + 160km). Then, I had 3 weeks vacation in which I mostly did zone 2-3 and chill out. I did structured training plans for the whole year up to that point (mostly SSB → base → SSB mid volume). But I was also overtrained for about a month (evidenced by HR and HRV and RPE), so I scaled back for the last 5 weeks and did mostly endurance with some VO2’s to keep my fitness, but rest a bit more (less IF, not TSS necessarily, overall).

Nov 2020 my FTP was 225, before 10th July 245, now Sep 2021 it is 238-240. I am 33, I always do MV plans and endurance rides (2 per month in any case, 120-200km. zone 2-3). Been doing TR for about 2 years.

My ability to do threshold on the trainer went down in 5 weeks, but not zone 2 or VO2Max.

My primary goal is to raise my endurance watts for 8-12h rides. My goal is to ride centuries with ease, and I am training for a double century (200mi).

I have the feeling I am doing something wrong or that perhaps, after all, TR may not be for me given the little gains and the proneness for overtraining I seem to have with - at least the old - MV SSB build plans.

I basically see three options now:
(1) build stronger aerobic engine: try POL 6 weeks MV, extra endurance rides on sunday. But 16 min threshold intervals scare me now.
(2) build stronger aerobic engine: do sweet spot base 2 MV
(3) see whether I can do another build immediately (SSB MV)

I also like to replace/add some workouts in weekends to accommodate 3-4 hour rides to build endurance base, just hours in the saddle.

Any tips advice?

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I’ve always did MV plans too (well since I started with TR July last year) and substituted weekend rides for workouts often (more frequently now restrictions have been lifted in the UK). Ivy from TR reckoned I would be better, in respect of AT calculating right, using a LV plan and continue doing those outside rides and add a work out in their place if they don’t happen. I do prefer the intensity of the mid week sessions in MV plan though (hard, easy, hard), whereas the LV plan looks (hard, hard, hard). I guess I’ll see how I get on as I want AT to work more :neutral_face:

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Have you tried TR adaptive training yet? Should help. And now that you’ve dug yourself into a bit of a hole and know what it feels like, hopefully you can use that experience to help avoiding a repeat.

I’m assuming that with your goals you enjoy big epic outdoor rides? In which case have you thought about scaling the TR plan back to LV, getting the structure done during the week, and then just going out at the weekend and doing whatever you feel like doing? Allowing you to go long when you want to, or take it easy if you’re not feeling it. Or if you want to do longer workouts then either cherrypick the key workouts from the MV plan to do during the week, or pick longer alternatives from the workouts on the LV plan. I keep coming back to this kind of approach as I find having more than 2-3 structured workouts scheduled each week just gradually sucks the enjoyment out of my riding. And leads to me digging myself into a hole as I doggedly pursue what’s on the calendar instead of listening to my body and heading out for a coffee ride or a cruisey MTB when that’s what I need instead of doing intervals.

3 weeks is enough time to see some detraining so it’s likely you saw your threshold drop during both the 2 weeks vacation and the 5 weeks of “scaling back”, which is evidenced by your lower FTP. Your FTP is probably still set too high, which makes you feel like you are overtrained because you are struggling with the workouts. Just because you start to fail workouts doesn’t mean your overtrained, just that you may be exceeding your current capabilities.

What is your real goal? You say you want to train for a century or double century, but then you also seem worried about your FTP. If you want to increase your FTP, you may have to do something different than if you are trying to train for a double century. I don’t think you are experiencing overtraining as much as you are in a plateau based on your current load and seeing the ebb and flow of form that makes threshold very difficult when it is slightly above your ebbing FTP.

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I want to accomplish two things:
(1) increase my aerobic engine for endurance rides (100mi+)
(2) increase FTP to put out more power on endurance rides in zone 1-3 (with lower HR)

I guess I’ll try another treshold and if HR + RPE is too high, I’ll drop FTP 5 watts or so (typically enough for me when I keep failing workouts).

Concretely:
(1) how to work around the plateau?
(2) what best training to increase aerobic (thinking long Z2 rides) and FTP (thinking build)

My intuitive idea is since AT shows me that my threshold is at level 2, whereas VO2 and endurance = 4-5, I feel I need a “stronger base” in threshold, so that I can then build on that with more demanding over unders in build (basically time-to-exhaustion is my gut feeling, but i am not an expert).

You’re going to get better at threshold by working on threshhold. Threshhold progressions will be more productive I think than more “base.” The key is that you are working at threshhold and not above threshold, so that’s why accurate FTP is important.

To bust out of the plateau you may need to do more.

  1. Add 2-3 hours to your weekly volume
  2. Or some strength training if you aren’t already.
  3. And a VO2 block to shock your system into adapting.
  4. And eat more. sleep more.

If you are afraid of overtraining, you probably won’t push yourself hard enough to get out of the plateau.

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Thanks. I don’t know if this is too much to ask, but can you give some additional suggestions?

  1. 2-3 hours volume. do you simply mean zone 2? more TSS?
  2. you mean LEGS? I already do core (arms, neck, back, shoulders), but I avoid legs to keep them fresh for cycling
  3. you mean a distinct VO2 block in which I basically do short power build? And in that block, no threshold or sweet spot?
  4. Sleep good point. Typically 7 hours, but with heavy workouts will need 9.
  5. But eating? What do you mean? carb load for hard workouts, perhaps gain some weight but lose it later?
  1. I would add 2-3 more hours of endurance. You can only handle so much intensity and mid-volume probably has enough.
  2. Yes you can do legs, but I would keep it all relatively light weight work. The key is not necessarily to weight train, but to add volume of work that will stimulate adaptations. You want adaptations in your legs because that’s your primary source of power. If you can add 2-3 more hours of endurance, you may skip the legs right away or do legs and don’t add the endurance. That’s why I said OR.
  3. You can search the forum for VO2 blocks people have done. Yes, I mean focused VO2 work and TR doesn’t have a plan that specifically is a VO2 block as I have seen it. Should be a short period of time, maybe two weeks. Check what others have done and see if you can replicate it. It will suck, but it may help stimulate those adaptations.
  4. duration of sleep is important, but quality can improve without necessarily more time in bed. proper temperature, bedtime routine, and especially how you eat and drink before bed.
  5. I’m not saying carb load or anything special to prepare for the work, just don’t be in a calorie deficit and if possible increase your overall consumption of protein and carbs during your heavy weeks. You probably won’t gain weight and if you do, it should be muscle, which is good. However, if you aren’t, I suggest fueling the workout. Many argue that you don’t need to fuel a 90 minute workout, but threshold is hard. I fuel it to the max usually with at least a gram of carb a minute and maybe 1.5 carbs a minute if you are going longer.
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I’d definitely take a look at MV POL plans. These are 2 structured intensity rides, and 2 longer endurance rides each week. Definitely less stressful than MV sweet spot plans.

Switch the default Saturday ride to Thursday, and then you have 2 long endurance rides you can do outside on weekends.

I think the default plan starts at 8 mins threshold, then jumps to 16 mins the next week. If this is intimidating, in the 2nd week, i’d substitute in something like Starr King-1 - 3x12 mins threshold to smooth the jump from 8 to 16 mins. I know I did.

So I made this plan. Any comments? Too easy / hard? I noticed that my threshold progression is way easier than POL 6:


3 week Threshold-only 2.4 to 4.9
1 rest week
2 week VO2 shake up
1 rest week

(planning to do POL 8 or SSB MV build after this)

To be honest your threshold progression is pretty basic if you want to really work on that. Start with 10 min intervals (6x10 - do as much as you can). If you have done 4-5 move to 3x15, 4x15, 3x20. If you have done 3 your FTP is off or you need more basic work.

With threshold you need at least 10 minutes of interval time to see any substantial benefit from the workout. Less than that is merely maintenance work. You can also mix threshold with longer sst work - with sst 15 min intervals as a bare minimum, 3x20@90% should be quite a basic workout and try to push longer. With anything aerobic longer is better.

Edit–
The 3 week block for threshold is not enough. Try 6 weeks and 2 rest weeks. This maybe helpful for you: Threshold riding for beginners
My personal experience with a threshold as a complete newb to cycling and endurance sport.

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As Jarsson says, more emphasis on longer time spent at threshold. progression in this terminology isn’t the same as progression in Adaptive training. Look for workouts that “progress” the length of the intervals. 10 can be a starting point, but look for simple workouts that have 2-4 of these steady-state intervals increasing your time spent in a single interval with each workout.

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Other than a more standard progression that jarsson mentions, I actually like something I’ve found more approachable, like a 2x15 or 2x16 to start. It’s a bit easier to get your head around doing 2 longer intervals. And proving to yourself that you can do 2x15, gives you some confidence that you can do 3x15.

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This would also work. Anything that makes you go longer. And try to go longer every workout. Be aggressive with progression. Personally I would start 2x per week with threshold and one longer ride z2 (if you can) or even long SST work. You can also mix-match workouts - one threshold and one SST@90% with 30s surges around 120÷ FTP every 2-3min (progression the same like with threshold). I have seen a lot of benefits from those as they improved my riding. The long SST and Z2 also should improve your TTE so you can do more threshold.

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Ok so thanks for all the input.

I guess POL 6 seems closest to the advice, and on occasion I will push Saturday Threshold to Thursday and do 2 back-to-back long endurance rides.

I guess it would also be wise to lower my FTP just to 235 (from 240) just to be sure I feel confident I can handle it. When it is too easy, it is more inspiring to up the FTP, than to fail the workout and be depressed for the rest of the day (that’s just how I work).

Curious whether I can break my plateau – it’s been really frustrating that I can ride 8 hours with no issue, but that I simultaneously don’t really progress in terms of FTP. And I’m only doing serious cycling for two years, so I am clearly doing it wrong.