Hi … I posted this as a comment/question for debate or maybe the podcast on the Facebook “Ask a ….” site and several good people suggested it worthwhile maybe posting it here as there tends to be a better interaction regarding such posts here (not that the comments weren´t useful or interesting there). A couple of people did take exception to one comment, but I think since the original clearly wasn’t meant as any slight of offense intended I´m gonna let it stand as it was.
Hi …Hope you´ll indulge me the long post. As a long term TR user of at least 3-4 years I´d like to raise my one (hopefully constructive) criticism of TR. Thats is, as an older athlete, I´d like to hear a little bit more to help some of us older athletes.
The programme is, as Jonathon says, aimed “at making you a faster cyclist”. But what about those amongst us who are older athletes who are trying to “remain a faster (relatively!) cyclist”? I´ve found over the years as much as I´ve enjoyed the blogs and podcast, for the most part it´s aimed at those trying to “get faster” and not so much at how to “remain fast”. As my experience with the program has grown, I´ve come to realise that there´s a little gap in the information available for us older athletes, and that there´s often a little bit of flexibility required to get through blocs, especially for example in the 3rd week of build phases and so on.
To provide a little context, (hopefully without being egocentric!), my details are as follows. I´m 56, 180 and (when in good shape), about 80kg´s. Over the past few years testing has given me a FTP of something between 280 and 300, with a high last year of about 315. It´s quite normal for me to be able to do a ride of 4-5 hours of 120-140km with say 1500mtrs of climbing with a (NP)power of something around the 200 mark, so it´s fair to say (I think) that although I´ve lost some of the top end “sprint” I once had, I´ve become a fairly efficient diesel. My best outdoor ride of late was probably last years Tour of Flanders at 176km at just under 7 hours and an np of 223. (These are measurments with Garmin vectors, not Strava estimates) I’ve been riding about 30 years, and, as is fairly typical of many my age came to cycling through the MTB boom of the late 80´s and early 90´s, then progressed to road, racing (mostly club and metro crits), then as a young family came along drifting off to tt´s, being somewhat scared off by seeing someone carted off to hospital every weekend as a result of over zealous newbies sprinting for 15th place, figuring at least if I binned it doing tt´s i had no one else to blame other than myself. As an ex pat English Aussie now living in Germany I often do a very full Spring classics program having done all the Spring Sportives numerous times over.
In the summer I tend to enjoy the weather more and whilst trying to do a couple of indoor short intensity rides following a plan, I like to do longer rides of about 4 hours (I don´t usually bother getting out for under that), usually around the 70% intensity mark. My training in winter is mostly in the cellar where I have a Wattbike Pro which is practically a 2nd bike, and the gym. Unless it´s for “headspace”, riding indoors during the bad weather brings me more “bang for buck” and, with a young family, time. It´s not a question of being “hard” as I´ve done more than my share of 0`temp rides here, but I´ve seen friends go down on black ice and you´re frequently being so careful you don´t actually achieve very much in terms of fitness.
Of course, I fully realise that most of the tenants that Coach Chad and Co are recommending are just as relevant to us as older athletes as younger ones… patience, being honest with yourself, objective and so on. But what do they, or anyone else out there recommend or do to maintain a long and healthy athletic life? I hope to be able to someone ride Flanders or Roubaix with our youngest son Ziggy when he´s old enough (he´s currently 9), as he has begun riding and racing MTB´s in a local club. Could Chad or anyone else recommend any other things or dedicate some section of a future podcast to help pursue this? Amongst other things I´ve also found the following things to consider -
Gym strength work is CRUCIAL. There´s no way you´ll retain power and muscle strength to maintain ftp without it. Gym twice a week is as much a priority as the TR program. (and who wants the bone density of a 65 year woman anyway?). This is not “gym bunny poseur” stuff but functional strength, particularly squats and so on. There´s no doubt in my mind that I sit better on the bike and can push out more power when doing consistent gym work. (A protein drink after gym or a long ride or intense ride is also a help).
Stretching has always helped me as well, also heling to avoid injury.
Recovery…the important one. Sleep, sleep, power naps… as Indurain once remarked when asked what was his favourite hobby, he replied succinctly - “sleep”!.
This is the “interesting bit”. When it comes to the TR program, I´ve found it necessary to be flexible and intelligent about the programme, particularly in the hard3rd weeks of “build stages”. I´ve found that sometimes it´s usually quite possible to complete the programmes rides when fresh, but have sometimes struggled with consistancy in that last week. I´ve come to see a tactic to deal with this is to try whenever possible to maybe do a “-” version, to attain the intensity but perhaps justnot so long a duration. Importantly, I think as an older athlete, I´ve come to believe that winding down the intensity just a touch (in terms of time at that intensity, NOT the actual intensity itself), is a good tactic to help cope with that. Would it perhaps be better to pull the recovery week forward?
I haven´t (and don´t ever intend to) try “fasted training”. A) I´m too old and not serious enough to try that sh*t and inflict the pain and psycological trauma from both a mental and physical safety aspect of family life! I simply don´t figure it worth it unless you´re at the absolute last 2-5% of your capabilities and lets be honest - how many of us out there are anywhere near that point in reality?
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly. At this age, we are, regrettably and obviously “getting older”. Yes, I hate it too. But remember (and I´ll be the first to admit i haven´t always), your health is primary. Contrary to what some of my friends might believe, I have no intention of dying whilst on the road. So get a regular heart check. You never know what´s around the corner, and there´s nothing to be gained by being wilfully ignorant. Your family will (hopefully) thank you for it.
Interested to hear any constructive commentary, and would really appreciate some podcast chat on the subject.