Failing Threshold Workouts

Breakdown is this. I started using TrainerRoad on the Rolling Road Race LV Plan on Christmas 2021. I’m 69kg and I’ve increased from 280FTP to 295FTP since starting. Base 1 - 280 to 286, Base 2 - 286 to 294, Build 1 - 294 to 295. Since March 1st I have failed 3 Threshold Workouts. These failures have occurred since being bumped from 286 to 294 using the AI FTP detection. I do extra rides on the weekends, mostly Z2 or I’ve traded out the threshold workout for that Friday with a race on that Saturday.

Today I failed Robion half way through the 2nd set. I knew in the first set that it felt way too taxing and midway through the second set I could feel the spiral of death occurring and I simply pulled the plug and finish out with 30 minutes riding Recess -5. I had limited sleep last night; in bed for 8 hours but awake off and on all night because my son crawled into bed. Wednesday’s workout was Olancha, which I was able to complete but it left me crawling on the floor afterwards. Should this be a cause for concern?

I feel a bit defeated today not being able to complete the workout; especially having failed 3 out 5 threshold workouts over the past 6 weeks. Otherwise I am able to complete all of the VO2Max and Anaerobic workouts.

Should I reduce my FTP to 286? 290? Work in more rest? Perform a manual ramp test? I am thoroughly enjoying trainerroad workouts but this feels like I am approaching too many failures to be beneficial.

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Stop feeling that way. Don’t know a nice or coach-y way to say that. Just stop. That’s it. No more. Ok? Good. :+1:

Calling all fast-twitch / anaerobic-y riders. Help this rider out. Good with VO2max and Anaerobic but failing Threshold. Not a new thing (but something I cannot relate to…I’m the opposite, kind of). What should they do?

Likely no. Don’t dork around with your FTP. It’s fine (or close enough).

Not a bad idea.

No

Every time this happens just drop down and ride Zone 2. Always (unless it’s so bad you shouldn’t be on the bike at all…you’ll have to figure that out). Zone 2 or off the bike when you’re tired. That is as absolute as you can get in a sport where there are very few absolutes. Whether you are on a TR plan or not.

Let’s wait for more wisdom to flow in!

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Looks like you are overreaching or your FTP is set too high.

How I approach it: in case of doubt, recovery (no bike) during at least 5 days. Every time I feel guilty, depressed to do this, but I come back stronger than I was 90% of the time. I start again with a few zone 2 rides outside, with some random short efforts of 30s-1mn depending on the terrain as I feel it.

Then I do an ftp test. A real one, not a ramp test. 20mn or Koolie More protocol. I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but those ramp test are terrible, and you should be able as a cyclist to perform a long test every few weeks.

Also, ask yourself if the TR plans have the right approach for you. They tend to be really focused on intensity and used to burn me out in march even on LV. Very fast early gains and even faster collapse.

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Chances are your estimated FTP isn’t your threshold. Try a threshold test to check.
Something like the Kolie Moore Baseline test

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Wow, that is a good one to try and unpick. @tshortt has given a good reply.

Do you have AI turned on?

Using the TR system you IMO need to dial down the Threshold sessions and keep the VO2max / Anaerobic levels where they are, which is your strength, you could let AI/AT do this for you.

I would normally say decrease your FTP and use resistance mode for anything above threshold, this is probably a good approach but against TR setting everything off FTP, which is well known to be flawed, adapted training tries to address this issue.

I too am interested in others thoughts.

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Wanted to start a thread just like this. I have a similar issue with 2*22 min threshold intervals in TR while I can do almost 1hour at threshold in Zwift on Alpe du Zwift. So both on the same trainer setup same fan etc.

I started experimenting and found two improvements:

  1. I stopped using ERG mode, for whatever reason I can hold threshold much longer in resistance mode.
  2. Distraction. Loud music with lots of guitars and screaming men seems to work for me

Still have not nailed both intervals yet, but came to 75% on the last interval last time.

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I totally failed a VO2 max workout a few weeks ago. Just took it easy a few days and came back the next week strong.

Also AI should kick in if you failed the workout. Did you mention how the workout was rated for?

Also, let me clarify based on what @rizaulait2 and @Bbt67 replied (good input):

It is not that I don’t think your FTP is set too high. It might very well be set high, but you have one of two options:

  1. get a “truer” FTP based on what we would call a “long test”. This will almost definitely give you a lower number. Do workouts based on that number
  2. use the ramp test FTP (because you need a number) and adjust the workouts

Ramp tests tend to do well measuring max efforts or capacity. How high can I go? (think "intensive’)
Longer “steady state” tests (like the one mentioned above) tend to answer “How long can I go?” (think “extensive”).

Ultimately you would want to know both. But for now (and if you’re using adaptive training), I would just adjust the workouts as you go along and not get hung up on the number.

I was tempted to write almost exactly the same but on this occasion thought I would approach it in a different way. But I totally agree with you.

Not directed to anyone in particular…

I think most people’s resistance to reducing their FTP or accepting a longer form tests results (if they do them) is that they want to believe their FTP is higher than it is and/or can handle VO2max efforts and Anaerobic efforts so FTP must be correct. Not that I am saying this is the case in regards to the OP

As is generally accepted these days, efforts above FTP do not scale with FTP. This is still an issue with TR even with Adapted Training, although it goes some way to solving the issue. Although I am still yet to be convinced it can adjust enough for an inadequate set FTP or zones above FTP.

Peg everything off Threshold and work from there maybe?

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are you using adaptive training? When you failed the other threshold workouts what did you rate them? Did it adjust your future workouts?

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are you using adaptive training? When you failed the other threshold workouts what did you rate them? Did it adjust your future workouts?

I appreciate everyone’s feedback. A few similar questions here to answer back to but yes, I am using AT. I NAILED Dana 4 weeks ago (Threshold 5.6) but the key there is that it a short over-under workout with a short VO2max for the over. Followed up with Emerson +2 (Threshold 5.9) and failed; knocked me down to Reinstein (4.5), one backpedal but otherwise a hard but successful workout. Robion (Threshold 5.0) may be pushing too far up too quickly; today’s failure did not modify future workouts.

When AT bumped me from 286 to 294 weeks ago I selected a stretch on hitting Dana and it quickly raised my progression level. This is probably the heart of the the issue where my VO2max/Anaerobic pushed me through that workout but I don’t have that longer sustained threshold capacity and I am paying for that now.

What I am thinking of doing for the future is manually dialing back the threshold progression levels if AT does not do it for me over the next several weeks to regain the confidence and train that system.

@tshortt,

Stop feeling that way. Don’t know a nice or coach-y way to say that. Just stop. That’s it. No more. Ok? Good.

fantastic response, thank you. Digging myself out of that hole of doubt and the responses here are very helpful.

Endurance, Tempo and Sweet Spot = movies and tv shows

Threshold++ I have found that loud music pounding in my ears does wonders; eyes and brain have no desire to do any work.

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We have all been there. Hopefully we’re coalescing on some good guidance.

Looks like you preemptively threw in the towel before actually struggling.

Not apples to apples, but here’s my most recent TR workout, Striped -4.

Not pretty, but not a failed workout. You don’t need a perfect workout graph to get most of the training benefit.

OP, go listen to the latest Kolie Moore podcast - 10 minute tips on FTP testing - over an hour long. :slight_smile:

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I don’t have any advice for you but I feel your pain. I’ve failed 3 of my last 5 Anaerobic and VO2 Max workouts after having trained consistently since November. I have my A race in June and I’m feeling defeated too. Good luck. I hope you get things sorted out.

When I find myself in the middle of a bad day (and it happens on over-under thresholds for me). I use to bail out. Now I dial back 3%, then if that doesn’t work go 5% or 10%. I think it is better to finish at a lessor percentage and then rank the ride extremely hard then to not finish. Get something out of the workout. The next time it will probably be better.

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Limited sleep - problem for today.

VO2max and Anaerobic workouts alongside Threshold, and I’m assuming 3 interval sessions each week plus additional riding - problem for your training plan.

FTP based on AI FTP detection instead of actual performance - there’s a problem here, too.

If you’re failing that many threshold workouts, 294 isn’t your threshold, and you need to do something that shows you what your actual threshold is instead of trusting some algorithm that you don’t understand to tell you what it is. Look I get ML and AI is great, but the fact is a computer can’t tell you what you’re actually capable of; at some point you’ve gotta go actually do it if you want to keep progressing.

Too much intensity all based on an FTP that’s too high is the real issue here, IMO.

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I think you have the right idea here. Try Barker. Same format as Robion but lower intensity. If it seems “too easy,” that’s fine; just nail it and regain your confidence. If that one is too hard, then the FTP is probably too high.

Generally I find the workout levels to be pretty reliable but the last time I tried Robion I found it to be harder than advertised.

For me, the Threshold workouts are always the hardest, and they have the highest variability on what I can do on a given day. I’ll cruise through a 5.0 one week and then crawl to the finish line on it the next week. To address that, I usually start those workouts with the mentality of “no matter what happens, no matter how I need to adjust, we are going to complete this workout.” If I start to feel like that’s in jeopardy, I adjust it down, significantly. For Threshold, I think it’s good to do that adjustment downward and complete the duration, rather than staying at the proscribed intensity until sudden failure (whereas in VO2/Anaerobic I’ll stop sooner if I can’t hit the targets).

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Made the same mistake. Selected a stretch workout when I was feeling good, nailed it and then AI bumped me up for the consequent workouts which were just too hard. Eventually failed one, stepped back to the threshold level and now I just don’t go for ‘stretch’ anymore.

I guess selecting a workout stretch or higher only makes sense if: 1, you are just getting into training, 2 something in life gave you significantly more time/rest capability.