Bottom 10% Trainer Looking For Advice

I need some help. I’ve been riding quite steady for about 5-7 years now. I put in roughly 4,000 km’s last year.

I am frustrated in the lack of gains in 2018 and want to see a turn around in 2019. My power curve numbers haven’t move like I want them too and I typically am in the bottom 10% of all riders in races.

About me:

Late 40s
225 lbs (yep over weight and struggling)
FTP = 220 (2.15 watts/kilo). Tested in a lab.

Limiters

  • I fight with injuries like right calf and lower back (back is more of a limiter than an injury). Calf pain is tibialis anterior in mid calf.
  • Overweight (30% bf) :rage: And a love Ice Cream
  • I drink lots of Coke Zero. No sugar but lots of the chemicals
  • Anxiety/Depression. This doesn’t stop me from riding though.
  • Sleep can be a factor for sure. I shoot for 8 hours per night, but my back is a limiter for sleep quality.

What I did in 2018

  • My training is very structured typically 3.5 days/week with a lot of Zone 1 (125 watts to 175 watts).
  • I have a once a week harder session that involves a 15 minute warm up, 30 minute (180 - 200 watts) and a 15 minute cool down.
  • I work with a good personal trainer on Core, Stabilization and Flexibility once a week.
  • I did several longer races (100 km range) as well as a triathlon and an Aquabike (1/2 iron man minus run)
  • In the summer I average around 100 - 125 km/week. Less in the winter, but this winter has seen quite a bit more indoor training.

Changes for 2019

  • I’ve seen a ton of specialists for the calf over the years. I’m scheduled to see a Physio and a Kinesiologist shortly as I believe my issues come from shot ligaments.
  • I know what’s bad for me diet wise. I need better discipline here for sure.
    I am starting 2019 by cutting all refined sugar from my diet. I’ve committed to this for January (when I say I’ll do something I’ll do it) to hopefully break the sugar cycle.
  • And Good bye McDonalds :imp:
  • New shoes with orthotics.
  • A calf tensor for add stabilization.
  • Training wise I am pushing my easy days up to the higher part of my Zone 1 (average 145 watts vs 115 watts) as this is still in the lower range of my FTP.
  • More indoor winter training

What I need from you…

I am really looking for tips for breaking through in 2019. The power curve and my racing my improve. I want to do a 1/2 Iron Man by 50.

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Diet, gym more than once a week, intermediate goals and focus

Edit: these four areas are a good place to start, IMO. I believe they compliment each other and I don’t weight one as more important than another.

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Seems you may need more intensity on the bike. I would shoot for something like the Low Volume approach in TR (which I gather you aren’t using?), and plan on 3 rides per week.

2 higher intensity (VO2 Max and Sweet Spot?) and then one easy like you have done. Maybe push that easy ride into the Z2 range, but only if it does not negatively impact the performance in the 2 HI workouts.

To add, those HI workouts need to be progressive in nature and not just repeats of the same time and intensity. The increase in stress is needed or you will stagnate.

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Your FTP isn’t improving because you never ride over your FTP.

That’s a sweet spot interval. You generally want closer to an hour spent in sweet spot with the goal of building muscular endurance. TR would generally not consider that a ‘hard’ workout.

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Thanks Chad. I’ll take that advice. I think some of the physical limiters (calf and back) have held me back from pushing hard. I’m sure that getting the weight under control will help those two things as well.

As mentioned, I plan to throw the kitchen sink at the medical system to get the tibialis anterior pain under control. I’ve seen looks of specialists (nerve conduction, compartmental syndrome, sports med) to try and sort it.

That said, I don’t always find a bit more intensity makes things and worse. So I’ll give it a go.

As mentioned, I put in around 4,000 km of biking (plus a bit of swimming and running) so I am not a completely lazy bum…lol. I am sure others put in a lot more, but its not bad for a desk jockey with 2 kids ;~)

I just need to be smarter with my training and diet. I’ll try increasing intensity like you suggest.

Thank for the the advice…love the Podcast!

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Thanks ErickVH

My typical events are 100 km (60 mile) in nature. I guess I always assumed that “base training”/Zone 1 stuff was core to this and with a bit of Sweet Spot thrown in, I would improve.

I thought/rightly or wrongly that if I train near FTP (not over) that should also show some FTP benefits.

Thanks for the tips!

If you can, try to seek out a training plan of some variety. There are many available for free from various sources. Use those, along with any other guidance you are already getting, to form a plan of workouts that will push you.

As mentioned by @ErickVH, it seems you have been stressing yourself minimally on the bike. SS can work wonders, but it must be setup properly and likely mixed with Threshold and VO2 Max to get the most of your time on the bike.

I think you may be missing the planning and focused intensity that can jump start your progression.

Common mistake. Even long distance athletes can benefit from intensity. Especially if your training time is limited. The long and slow approach is great, particularly if you have TONS of time to do it.

I am guessing you spend less than 8 hours a week on the bike? If you are anywhere around that time or less, you need to consider intensity as a requirement, not an option.

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Yes in the “on season” (March - Sep), I’d average between 6 - 8 hours on the bike. I did have other sports on top of that with ~2-3 hrs in pool and ~1-2 hours running.

Off season, cycling is more like 3 hours with more time in the gym (weights, core, flex) instead.

I live in Vancouver so goal is a better Whistler Gran Fondo time. Sitting on a bike for 7 hours weighing 225 lbs, really, really SUCKS!

I definitely say my best season was when my weight was closer to 200. Ideally 185 lbs, but one step at a time.

I want the weight loss to be sustainable (no yo you). 1-2 lbs per week with some weight training to sustain muscle mass.

Not making excuses (but I am lol). I had a pretty bad bike accident in May/2017. I broke my collar bone and several ribs. But I relatively healthy and definitely motivate now!

Thanks again!

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I need to add, that most of my experience and info is pure cycling based. So the multi-sport aspect of your training likely adds some complexity.

But I do think more and improved intensity is a path that will help you work towards your goal.

Edit to add this link, which came from another discussion, but may be useful here as well.

Try to follow the low volume plans all way through (ssb1, ssb2, build speciality) and sure you will improve dramatically.

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Focussing on building one habit at a time tends to work best for me and of your list I suggest that cutting out refined sugar is the most crucial.

It will suck for about two weeks and then you won’t miss it anymore. That’s my experience anyway.

But, one big dish of ice cream and you’ll be craving for a few days again. Just treat the stuff like cyanide. You wouldn’t take that “in moderation” :slight_smile:

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I think the bike improvement is the least of your concerns right now. Consider seeing a medical specialist like a physical therapist for your back and your leg. It’s quite possible the two are very related. See your doctor, get a checkup including cardiac health, and possibly a nutritionist. Once these things are in order or at least on the right track, you can take on the rigors of the more intense training described by others above. Start with the basics.

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Thanks. I given up all refined sugars for January and replacing them with fruit. Still sugar, but hopefully absorbed slower and with some nutrients. Baby steps.

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“I need some help. I’ve been riding quite steady for about 5-7 years now. I put in roughly 4,000 km’s last year.”

Cool, I can give my opinion as a peer, but not a qualified pro - changing up from steady to progressive training will help.

“I am frustrated in the lack of gains in 2018 and want to see a turn around in 2019. My power curve numbers haven’t move like I want them too and I typically am in the bottom 10% of all riders in races.”

Probably due to steady riding rather than a structured training plan - TR is the right place to be so get on a plan, that’s one box ticked :+1:

“ Late 40s
225 lbs (yep over weight and struggling)
FTP = 220 (2.15 watts/kilo). Tested in a lab.

  • Overweight (30% bf) :rage: And a love Ice Cream”

Not a limiter, but a good opportunity for improvement that will reap the rewards you’re after. :slight_smile:

Personally I agree with your general approach so far, I think high volumes of aerobic activity will help your general health. Intense workouts should be measured, and infrequent. Personally I like intensity in my bike and swim, but none in my run. Make sure your walk or run is nose-breathing (in and out) or use an HR monitor to keep HR way down - it’s out of fashion and a little too faith based for me, but I still think Phil Maffetone’s podcasts are good messages for people who need to get healthy first, then get performant.

“ - Anxiety/Depression. This doesn’t stop me from riding though.

  • Sleep can be a factor for sure. I shoot for 8 hours per night, but my back is a limiter for sleep quality.”

Join the club, who doesn’t? :slight_smile:
In my opinion people on the whole worry too much about worrying, and worry too much about the assumption that everyone sleeps 8hrs uninterrupted and they are the weird one…they don’t, and they don’t need to.

“- I did several longer races (100 km range) as well as a triathlon and an Aquabike (1/2 iron man minus run)”

You’re already in the cool kids club then :sunglasses:

“Changes for 2019”

I think you’ll see the most benefit, health and performance, from keeping your easy days easy but making your hard days harder

“ I want to do a 1/2 Iron Man by 50.”
:+1:
Totally achievable.

How many days can you train SBR, and how many years have we got?

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Heart is all good. Had that checked. BP, resting heart rate good and trending down from the exercise.

I have seen a nutritionist. But lets face it, I know eating ice cream daily isn’t helping my goals. So I am cutting refined sugars for 31 days to start to try to break the habits.

Yep on the leg and back.

Thanks for the support.

I appreciate the positive messaging in this note a lot!

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As everyone one is suggesting your diet is key. Tests have proven that diet drink actually work the opposite way, they can actually cause you to gain because of all the chemicals. Also i may have missed it but i don’t think anyone has mentioned it yet. The time of day you eat is almost as important as what you eat. Also as everyone has said your intensity is too low its just maintaining your fitness it wont improve it. Low back pain and calf pain can certainly be linked to back issues. I know this because i have two rods and 6 screws in my back and suffered back/leg pain for years. I never really had real serious back pain its was all lower leg and hip pain. Good luck on your journey of self improvement. I started TR and by the end of the first year i weights 40 lbs less by just following SSB1-2, General Build and instead of specialty i just did Sustained Power and eating better. I am in my 50’s so it can be done

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Thanks Chad.

I’m mostly a cyclist at heart. I tried the triathlete route last year to gain some cross training and in theory reduce injuries. (Also a great way to connect with my daughter).

I am likely to mainly stick to cycling.

Cheers
Jeff

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Keep up the good work and do not give up. My first and biggest suggestion is to get rid of the diet pop. It triggers a insulin reaction the same as sugar and will cause you to gain weight no matter what else you do.

I would also suggest you read 2 books. The obesity code (this is the important one). And the the complete guide to fasting(this is totally optional). The obesity code will help you figure out how what you eat and drink effects you.

I am in the same boat as you. Almost 50, And trying hard to drop the pounds. Im down over 50 with another 30 to 40 to go. I rode 12000 km last year but still had issues with my eating.

If your looking for an interesting read look into “what doesnt Kill Us” by Scott Carney. Also Look into the Wim Hoff method. Warning, its out there.

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