One key here is knowing your body and specifically your responses. When I take recovery, my HRV plummets. Start training again, and baseline goes back up and starts slowly climbing.
I don’t think daily HRV is a great way to schedule training, but the 7-day average is probably OK. I think the longer term trends are more valuable than anything.
I agree about random days off, especially with keeping mental health primed. It will become a benefit to know when you have some recovery coming up. I bet you’ll start looking forward to them. Good call on doubling up and taking rest (IMO).
No experience with Whoop, but have enjoyed my Oura thus far. It gives me good insights on things that can impact readiness, and keeps me honest on how I’m feeling. I like the stability of the overnight measurements vs. the single morning measurement I was doing with my Polar H10.
If you’re new to HRV, you might just try it with the HRV4TRAINING app and your smartphone or Polar chest strap before investing in Oura/Whoop. Honestly, I asked for the Oura for my birthday so I could be lazy and automatically get my measurements.
7-8 hours of intervals plus power lifting with zero true days off is kinda crazy. Odds are pretty good based on what has been posted that OP isn’t tuned in with when his body really needs recovery. That’s pretty common.
have you considered doubling up the lift and ride in one day (sorry if i missed that in these replies). You reallllly need a rest day, and probably two. If you’re not tired, then you’re either super man, or not lifting heavy enough / training hard enough, but that’s another thread!
Also, if you’re lifting for overall health and cycling, trim the workout to 60 min Max. Most would say 45 min. I agree, but I also love lifting and can’t let some of my tertiary lifts go! Lol.
Tues: 60min gym and 60min bike
Wed: 90 min bike
Thurs: 60min gym and 60min bike
Sat: 60min gym and 60min bike
Sun: Hill repeats
I’d also do something besides sweet spot all the time, but that’s another thread too!
I am wondering if you could use an endurance ride (weekly, say on Wednesday) to gauge your fatigue level. See how you perform on that ride week over week and pay attention if it is telling you to dial back or go harder.
Me? I just go as hard as I can until I start cracking and my FTP starts dropping and it’s too late haha
Similar thing used to happen to me but I took it that I was delaying my recovery and should have been taking a day off a couple of days earlier. One of the hazards of riding with more than one group of friends I guess.
I thought maybe the same, but even after three full weeks off the bike my HRV stayed depressed. When I started training, right back up to my old baseline. Marco Altini said in another thread that some respond that way and individual response can vary widely, so you have to watch it for a while and learn your trends.
My HRV also tanks due to life stress, so that’s a good indicator for me when other things are getting in the way and I need to reduce overall stress.
This is awesome, y’all gave me so much to think about. I’m going to try to re-capture all the common responses and my new adjusted approach which will start next week. Hopefully some day, someone else will stumble upon this thread and find it helpful as well
Firstly, most of you were pretty on target about my lack of appreciation for rest. I have a fundamental understanding of the physiological benefit - recovery = growth - but I’ve always been the “go too hard until you crash and burn” kind of person. I created this thread in hopes of breaking that habit. NEW PLAN - Treat rest as my most important training day(s).
Since it was asked:
Overall goals on bike.
Primary: Get “really” good at ultra races.
Secondary: Use my 30’s (turning 30 in 3 days) as the foundation to become old man strong
Underneath all of that and truly the most important thing, is keep this sustainable and consistent as it proves to be remarkably good for my mental health.
I did a few 24 hour mtb races and a single stage 350+ mile race over the last year, I find the format works really well for me, both in body and brain. I have a single stage 400 mile race on September 7th and a 370 mile race on October 8th coming up. I know my short time period / high intensity workout structure doesn’t sound like it makes sense for races lasting 48-72 hours straight, but I’m a small business owner and the days are short. Just making do with what time I have available until I can spend less time burying my head in the business.
Onto the updated training schedule!
Two rest days per week, and combining morning bike trainer session with evening lifting seems like a great way to achieve the balance of active vs recovery. It was noted that I don’t incorporate z2 rides, which is ironic given my goal. @brendanhousler encapsulated a way for me to achieve my current and preferred training schedule, with the inclusion of two rest days AND a 90 minute outdoor ride. See below.
I’ve never done two-a-day’s (bike morning / gym evening) before due to feelings of time constraint, though I believe I can find ways to set myself up for success here. Only one way to find out if this is achievable and sustainable right?
The wednesday rides will probably go longer than 90 minutes when I can afford it, but they will always hover around z2 to make them an active recovery type ride.
Re: HRV discussion… I’m not sure I’m ready to dive into that world yet. I like the idea of starting off with the app, but time and research is needed before I’ll be ready to commit. For now, I’ll continue to work on improving self awareness, and ACTUALLY responding to sensation of overworked. FWIW, I did so successfully this week. I took monday and tuesday off, partially because of time constraint due to a quick vacation, but also with the awareness that I’m trying to stay ahead of the overtraining curve.
Love this discussion y’all. Thanks a mil for the input.
Here’s hoping others are gaining something out of this as well!
Z2 work is essential for building your aerobic base. A good aerobic base is not just crucial for the events you are targeting, but it’ll enable you to recover from anaerobic work more quickly (in any sense, in between intervals as well as across workouts). You wrote that you are following a low-volume plan, which means you have three days of intensity, and you heap another day of intensity on top. That’s not a good idea in my opinion, you should have at least one, better two endurance days. (The third workout in the LV plan is a sweet spot workout. You could swap that for an endurance workout.)
Yes, and if it isn’t, cut workouts according to your priorities. AFAIK the usual recommendation for most cyclists is to have two gym workouts per week. If you have strength goals beyond cycling, you can do more, but that may come at the expense of your cycling fitness. Just make your priorities explicit to yourself and follow accordingly.
I think that’s a good idea. IMHO you should first work on the training basics. Additional data can just add to noise and cause confusion if you don’t know what to look for. Plus, none of these tools can change the training essentials: if you are doing too much and your Oura ring agrees with your tired legs, what have you gained?
Sure. But overtraining is a thing and it may not be obvious to people that it’s that bad just fatigue. And with overtraining it can be a lot longer than just a day or two of rest to get yourself out of that hole.
@OreoCookie (It’s ironic that I don’t incorporate z2 rides because my focus is ultra distance racing which leverages z2 most above all. It would make more sense for me to do more z2 in anticipation of spending 48-72 hours at a time hovering around z2/3 as my most optimal racing output. As mentioned above my days are short, and whether right or wrong, opting for shorter and more intense rides is my answer for not adding additional time-stress and reduced sleep to my plate… but something has to give here. Too much high intensity intense stimulus really isn’t an option)
I’m inclined to go with your advice that tacking on a 4th day of intensity (hill repeats) to a low volume plan will be too much stimulus… looking into next block of training on the plan I can see what you mean.
The schedule as currently written shows me following the low volume with the addition of a 90-180 minute endurance ride on wednesday, and most likely a 90-120 minute hill repeat (which I’m going to call tempo/sweet spot - I don’t work terribly hard on these hill climbs, based on the fact that my races inevitably end up with me climbing hills in the granny gear at 3am)
Incoming block will feature v02 max - sweet spot - threshold
The following block will feature v02 max - anaerobic - threshold
IIRC, the higher intensity the stimulus and muscle development, the faster it falls off when training that specific zone stops. Those higher zones are super helpful for the punchy sections of my 24 hour mtb races earlier in the season, but I don’t have any coming up in the immediate future. The incoming races will be a mixed bag (gravel,tarmac,singletrack) which leads me to believe the anaerobic and v02 max training rides would be ideal to switch out for endurance/tempo rides.
Instead of following the above schedule, I propose I switch the highest intensity rides out for z2/3 on each block:
Incoming block will feature endurance/tempo - sweet spot - threshold
The following block will feature v02 max - endurance/tempo - threshold
(Plus the wednesday z2/3 and the sunday z3/4 rides… I don’t have a power meter on my bike so I’ll be using RPE and HR to estimate what zone I’m in, making the power output a little more variable and inconsistent)
I realize this contradicts your suggestion to swap sweet spot for endurance, but given the increased info about my race schedule, perhaps that changes things?
I hear you. My primary goal is to be a good cyclist, and that does mean that the first thing to go in my plan will be the third gym workout if/when I find I’ve overextended myself. What can I say though, I’m an ambitious person and I have a tendency to take on more than I can manage, especially in the physical realm. As I mature I’m learning this about myself and I continue to reduce the amount I over-fill my plate believe it or not.
This current plan might be too much, and I will suffer the longer lasting consequences of overtraining if so. I’m willing to accept this truth and still try regardless
Not really. You seem to view this from the vantage point of simulating race-like efforts, but that’s not how you structure a training plan across a season. Endurance is involved in any training plan with your volume, and simulating race-like efforts is not one of them (even though it may be true for the type of races you are doing). Endurance work is also not “a replacement for a ‘real’ workout on days where you cannot manage proper, intense workouts”.
Training in the endurance zone has many direct benefits, including that it specifically targets your slow twitch fibers, you are working on your cycling economy and you strengthen your cardiovascular system, just to name a few. Apart from the direct benefits of working in Z2, endurance workouts are usually used to improve e. g. your pedaling technique, your aero position, do cadence drills and the like. You can do these much better when hitting your power targets is not an issue and does not need all your concentration. Lastly, it teaches restraint, something I reckon is crucial for your endurance races.
You wrote you don’t have time for a 3-hour endurance ride. Okay, then do as much as you can, say 2 hours or 90 minutes. Any balanced training plan should include endurance work, and the more you train, the more Z2 you should do. But four days of intensity is nuts, especially if this is in addition to gym work. Just to give you an idea, I’m fairly well trained (4.6 W/kg, 339 W FTP), I train 5 days a week, but I currently have only three days of intensity, and I’ll cut that to two days in the next block because of fatigue. I would prefer 3 days of intensity, I like my intense days. But much of endurance training is about managing fatigue.
But are you being ambitious or impatient? Your plans seem driven more by the latter. Crash-and-burn is not the recommended strategy, it seems like a shortcut but really isn’t. Ambition is great, I think most of the people active on this forum could be described as ambitious. But ambition needs to be tempered with patience and smarts, because if you are really serious about something, you gotta take the long view.
Fatigue is a funny thing that you don’t necessarily see coming very easily. It’s a common mistake people make: they can manage several weeks or months of a training plan that has too much intensity and volume for them — until they fall apart. So a plan that has the right intensity will likely feel way too easy — initially. Sometimes you will either miss the signs or misinterpret them.
Learning to respect rest and knowing when to push past discomfort or fatigue and when not to are two crucial lessons most of us (including ) have learnt the hard way. Usually when people get started the advice is to start low and increase volume bit-by-bit. Rather than planning three gym sessions, for example, how about starting with just one at first, and scheduling that for the weekend (assuming you work Mondays through Fridays)? Just learning how to marry your training schedule with life is not easy, especially if you plan on training twice per day on some days.
@OreoCookie you are really challenging my view and I’d like to say I greatly appreciate the time you’re taking to spell this out for me.
I’ll continue trimming this down. I spent 6 months doing 2 days workout + low volume plan + random fun rides last year and didn’t notice any detriment to my energy, so I confess I won’t be willing to drop below 2 days of gym work. I’ll drop the squats/day 3 of gym… no promises I won’t throw it back in once winter hits and it’s too cold/uncomfortable to ride outside. That said, ski touring season will start shortly thereafter so maybe I’ll need to completely reconfigure my approach when we get snow.
I’d also like to reiterate that my gym workouts aren’t terribly intense. They’re designed specifically for cyclists (plus one compound movement I added for fun). I schedule 60 minutes because I take a hefty chunk of rest between sets. RPE in the gym hovers around 5-6. You might shake your head and say that is intense… My background is powerlifting and crossfit before that, so in comparative terms I’d consider what I’m doing right now to be fairly lowkey.
Mon: 60 min indoor bike (v02 max)+ 60min gym
Tues: 90+ min outdoor ride (endurance)
Wed: 60 min indoor bike (threshold) + 60min gym
Friday: 90 min indoor bike (endurance) switched from SS per your suggestion & cutting out day 3 of gym
Sat: 90+ min Hill repeats (tempo)
Hill repeats moved to Sat to bunch workout groups in 3-day & 2-day increments.
That’s 2 days of intensity, 2 days of endurance, and 1 day of tempo… which doesn’t really feel like intensity to me but no accounting for naivety - It’s also an outdoor ride with friends that I’ll catch 5 out of 8 over the coming weeks until my A event. I can skip or reduce time/effort on those as needed.
After every 4 weeks of gym work I’m also planning to throw in 1 deload week. I don’t know how complicated it would be to adjust the trainerroad progam to match deload week on bike with my deload week in the gym, or whether that would be of any substantial benefit. Seems just as good to have deload weeks land on different periods of respective training blocks. Sort of an ebb and flow?
Ha. If you must know, I’d categorize myself as Ambitious/Impatient/Naive/Hardheaded/Depressed/Going through a bad breakup/Want something to distract and punish myself with until my partner moves out of my house.
I don’t drink, so I use exercise to manage my pain and stress.
No excuse for making longterm goals suffer though, which is why I’m grateful for your input. I envision of future of being smart and patient through my cycling journey, the long view as you say. Definitely willing to concede that I should back off my original plan, but doing low volume + 1 day a week really isn’t going to be enough right now. Not for a couple months. On the other side of my A race I expect I’ll be in a much better headspace to critically evaluate what is possible on the long view sustainable level.
Your second schedule looks better. Sunday should be off of the bike. I would actually flip Friday and Saturday because having 90+ mins of tempo hills, even with a day of rest in between, will probably degrade the quality of your VO2Max workout. However, you can try it out and see how you’re feeling on Mondays.
You’re coming from a Crossfit background where you’re used to people doing these one hour high-intensity sessions 3-6x a week. This can be sustainable in Crossfit because good WOD programming will rotate the exercises around so you’re not overusing a muscle group. For cycling, the targeted muscle groups are the same every ride. Piling on intensity day in and day out is not how you get faster on a bike. You’ll end up with too much fatigue and the quality of your interval workouts will decrease, which in turn will decrease your gains. IIRC, we have evidence to support that there are diminishing returns after 2 high intensity workouts per week. And like @OreoCookie said, you need the endurance work to get faster. High intensity will not help that much with endurance but endurance work will help you with your FTP/speed.
I pretty much agree with @OreoCookie’s suggestions except I think you could get more lifting in on Thursday or Sunday if you wanted (not Crossfit stuff–very anaerobic lifting). Just make sure you’re taking at least a day off of the lifting. With lifting it seems that total volume matters more than frequency (given studies). I have no issue with lifting 3-5x a week alongside my cycling training. I lift heavy. 5x5-ish for compounds with 1-2 RIR, not including warmup sets, 3x8-12 for accessory and core (though I might be upping the accessory sets to 4).
Here is my idealized schedule. I don’t follow it to a T and will skip/shift things around when life gets busy.
Mon: optional lifting; cycling OFF
Tuesday: lifting; TR VO2Max
Thursday: lifting; TR threshold
Saturday and/or Sunday: very long endurance ride
Lifting and cycling operate independently. I’ve found that DOMS doesn’t affect my interval work too much–just makes for a sluggish first interval. Interval workouts are stacked immediately after lifting because it is dangerous the other way around. No two-a-days. My lifting is structured “warmup + compound + accessory + core” with a goal of one hour or less. I’ve got five schedules based on 1) bench, 2) squat, 3) deadlift, 4) snatch OR push press + bent over row 5) clean OR overhead press + pendlay row. I’m an ultra endurance athlete so I pile all of my endurance hours into a single long ride (5-10 hours) on the weekend (the nicer weather day gets the long ride). These long outdoor rides should have plenty of Z3 so I only rarely bother with Z3 intervals. I usually focus more on training over particular features (eg, picking a course with rolling hills).
You say you’re aiming for ultra endurance. I’m going to echo @OreoCookie and say that you’re not doing enough endurance work, even with your revised schedule. There are adaptations which are gained by riding long hours that you can’t get via high intensity work. Unless you’ve previously put in a ton of endurance work and stocked up on endurance adaptations, I am skeptical this training plan will prepare you well for an ultra endurance event. Endurance adaptations seem to stick around a lot longer than FTP gains so once you get them, it’s easier to coast off previous endurance gains.
I posted my Unbound XL training plan in a different thread and several other ultra endurance athletes have commented that they came up with nearly identical plans. It’s low volume but doesn’t skimp on endurance work. I doubt this is the only way to train for ultras, but I do think it says something that many of us came up with the same regimen independently.
One comment on the Saturday ride: I assume the intention is to practice race-specific efforts. That’s a very good idea. Depending on how you feel and where you think your weaknesses are, you can address them here. For example, if you are having trouble with the last climb of the event, you could put the hill repeats towards the end of your tempo ride. Although if the event is long, then practicing sweet spot efforts instead of VO2max hill climb repeats might be a better match for the event.
Oh, and you might want to consider doing a taper 1–2 weeks before your event. Basically, you drastically reduce training volume, but keep some intensity. The logic is for you to be fresh for your A-event and cut fatigue. After the event you should also take it easy. I think you wrote in your initial post you are doing XC marathon events, but I might be misremembering. But the longer the event, the more of a break you will need. Basically, I’d do a recovery week afterwards.
And after that you could use the Saturday ride for other purposes. Rather than just doing hill repeats, you could use that time to practice skills, cornering, pacing and the like. I find that pacing smartly (e. g. exploiting and maintaining momentum) and learning to go on or off the power smoothly is quite different from keeping power in a zone. Hill repeats are nice and all, but you are already addressing the fitness component of cycling on the other days. It could be a good idea to address things you cannot train indoors and/or cannot do on an endurance ride.
That makes sense, but probably you want to synchronize that with rest weeks in your training plan. TrainerRoad’s plans have a rest week after 3 weeks (4-week blocks) or after 5 weeks (6-week blocks). With training plans generated by Plan Builder you see more variation.
Don’t worry, we understand. My mom died last year of cancer and structured training helped me keep a (more) level head. Not gonna lie, I wasn’t always easy to be around and Covid didn’t help. But having some me time, having structure and seeing progress really did help me. The day after my mom died, I knew I’d either want to do a really hard workout or none at all. I started a hard one and figured out after 15 minutes my mind wasn’t in it.
Going through a breakup really sucks, we’ve all been there. Keep an eye out for your mental health. Some days your mind might not be in it, and it might be better to adapt the training plan or cancel training and do something else.
Very good comments. Thanks for your input on weight lifting, an area I know little about.
One question: as far as I understand @Henry is time-constrained and cannot do long weekend rides. How would you work time constraints into a workout plan for someone targeting an ultra endurance event? Also, you wrote that you are doing long Z3 rides, and the purpose is clear to me. But is that something you only do prior to your A-event(s) (= specificity) or something you start earlier? Even long, hard Z2 rides (think IF 0.7 and up) can leave you quite fatigued, especially if you have a higher FTP and burn a lot of kCals that need to be replenished.
OP. I usually train every day, often twice a day actually. Also work a physical job 5 days a week.
I listen to my body and when im getting tired or irritable, I back off a little for a day or two.
I don’t do structured intensity, just go hard when I feel like it.
I mix up gym, running and riding. Like you, it keeps the demons away. I think I’m probably ADHD, but am glad as it has brought me countless wonderful experiences and daily joy.
Honestly, I don’t know. It really depends on if he has the endurance adaptations built up to do whatever his target event is. Perhaps @Henry could comment on the event he is training for and his prior experience with ultras.
The way I make my schedule manageable is minimizing the amount of time I’m on a bike (only 3x a week, usually). I also lean on lifting as a weird sort of ultra endurance cross-training. As type I fibers fatigue over very long distances, your body will recruit type II fibers to pick up the slack. I also keep my lifting very anaerobic. Lower reps, heavier weight, no rushing between sets. I save the aerobic stuff for the bike.
Taking a week off to do a long distance trip that just piles on volume day after day could be helpful if seeking endurance adaptations.
Oh, I don’t do long Z3 rides. In the process of doing a mostly Z2 outdoor ride I will get plenty of time in Z3. Sometimes I might do 30 min Z3 intervals, especially if the ride is on the shorter end (5 hours). I will sometimes work in C events for these rides. When I am actively training for an ultra event I am out for 5-10 hours on the weekend and I try to stack it into one big ride.
The exception to this is training for winter ultras. Last winter I barely trained Z2 endurance during the winter and just rode off the fall season’s endurance gains. No issues. Like I mentioned, endurance adaptations stick around for a while.
“Short” ultra races are typically over 20+ hours in the saddle with minimal breaks. The longer, multi-day ones involve 12-16 hours of riding, per day. Getting used to long hours is important from a physical, psychological, and bike fit standpoint (there are often bike fit issues that won’t crop up until you’ve been riding for eight hours).
My understanding is that some of the endurance adaptations gained from long Z2 rides are ones that help with fatigue and efficient fat burning. For me, a 500 TSS/0.8 IF/5000 calorie weekend ride with 1-2 days rest totally off the bike is the upper end of sustainable in the schedule I outlined in my previous post. But it takes endurance training to get to that point. Imo, a racer in this category should at least feel like they could go for a century ride any given weekend if they wanted to. The only consideration should be scheduling.
Triathletes face this situation constantly, ie, to maintain performance you need to train each discipline twice/wk, to improve 3/wk.
The advice (as opposed to genuine research) isn’t conclusive.
What is common is separate the two by at least 6 hours.
The second depends on your aim and priority. Eg,
if you are a sprint cyclist and hence may need to focus on your power and strength, then weight training may be your priority, and hence Gym in the morning and cycling 6+hours later.
If cycling endurance is your priority, then cycle in the morning
You could also do cycling on a day when your Gym focus is upper body.
Depending on what phase of your plan, you can also switch the focus, eg, if you are using a traditional periodised plan then typically Gym work would get priority in the early phases, as the plan progresses, you could drop some gym work so that you can focus on more intense rides, eg, increased Threshold and VO2. With polarised periodisation you might mix Gym and endurance rides, leaving the HIIT workouts for single workout days.
Although athletes often refer to the day off as recovery, the coach term is ‘Adaption’, and research indicates it is critical. Hence, 1 day adaption per week is essential, and also one week in every block, typically every 4th week is also adaption, for all your disciplines, ie, Gym and riding.
Adaption occurs in times of maximum rest. The body uses the chemical markers that were established over time, to make the physical changes required to meet those changes tomorrow, next week, etc.
I have decent endurance adaptations. Centuries aren’t really a big stretch for me, but I could always be better I’ve done a few 24hr mtb races and one ultra race @ 350 miles in the last year.
Glad to hear your training schedule supports your endurance, it sounds very similar to my structure, and you do the races I aspire to be good at. My upcoming race is the Idaho Smoke and Fire 400, followed by the Big Lonely in October, which should increase from 350 miles in previous years to ~375 due to a route adjustment.
I also took a peek at the training schedule you linked to, tons of valuable information in there, thanks for sharing!
I couldn’t get a half race effort ride in last week (3 weeks prior to event) so I’m thinking I’ll get one in this coming weekend that goes through the night, and use the remaining 9 days leading up to event as z2/3 only. Maybe throw in one interval training session on the early side if it feels good.
@OreoCookie Yeah I’m time crunched but at this point biking is such a big priority that I’m just pushing other extracurricular activities out of the way to accommodate waking up at 430am to ensure I can get longer rides in. Over the last couple weeks I’ve found it’s easier to maintain 2x days a week of lifting, and I’m combining those days with intervals on bike. I’ve upped my endurance days to 2-3 days a week and it’s feeling really good. Thanks again for the input!