Thank you all, gives me a lot to think about. I mentioned reactive hypoglycemia, proper race day nutrition and warmup, and also getting to know your body and limits better…and he still insists that it’s sleep. He’s willing to experiment with nutrition and warmup over the next few races though, so that’s encouraging.
It’s been way cooler than usual in Central VA this year, so heat/humidity hasn’t been an issue. Last Sunday was the race he actually DNF’d so I talked through the whole morning with him. The race started at 11:00 and we had a two hour drive to get there. He ate two big bowls of cereal around 7:00 and nothing else before the race other than a few sips of a Gatorade/malto mix from his bottle. We warmed up by doing the first ~3 miles of the course, with a minute or two above FTP, then a few hard efforts up a short climb and spun around a bit before staging. The start was very hard. He was trying to hang with the group Jeremiah Bishop was leading, which didn’t last long. He backed off a bit then was caught by a kid that he “knows” is slower than him. I caught the two of them, which is pretty unusual, so I wondered if something was up.
I dropped my chain at that point and lost them. I caught my son in another 5-10 minutes, after he was dropped by the other kid, and he told me he couldn’t go on and was going to bail. When I finished the race, he told me he felt very tired and had a headache. This is very similar to what he described in the other races I mentioned he underperformed at in the OP. Again, to me it kind of sounds like a bonk, although I would never bonk 10 minutes into a race unless I was severely restricting calories or something for the week leading up to it. I know he wasn’t doing that, but maybe growing bodies are different.
smooh - all blood work is normal. I’m going to get him a Whoop strap to monitor sleep so he can either rule that out or figure out how to fix it.
hope you find answer. it just sounded a lot like a friend that had same issues . that is, of course, not science or actual evidence based advice but figured I’d throw it out there just in case. nobody likes to think a 16 yr needs cardiology clearance but an easy box to check,
I asked way up at the top if he was monitoring his CTL/ATL with a performance manger chart. Does it say he should be fresh, tired, or somewhere in the middle? Are his legs sore when he walks up stairs? He might have come to think that the feeling of training and being constantly tired is normal. When did he last have a real rest week?
He’s 16. I’d be looking at unknown drug or accessory usage potentially. Gummies, even OTC stuff can have an effect on performance as you likely know. Is he ‘in’ at the beginning, or does he feel ‘pushed’ to do the event. (Is it attitude) I would definitely look at medical testing just to rule out congenital issues that could be limiting performance. (I was on the train to be an amateur Tour de France racer, and found out that I have a minor heart issue. I got just so far in my desire to be the next American racer. Some days, I’d feel 1,000%, and other days 80%).
But aside from drugs/supplements, does he spend an hour on his iPhone at night?
Is it performance anxiety? Over-training? Circling back to attitude… Does he need some time off? Possibly don’t over play it, and keep moving on? Maybe have a ‘heart to heart’ on his future as a cyclist? So much could be in play.
I apologize, I forgot to mention the PMC. Yes we use it an he was close to fresh for the race on Sunday. He did a good taper leading up to it, as we do for most races, but it has been a couple of months since he’s taken a week completely off. This started in April though, just after his first solid training block of the year.
I’ll talk to him about drugs and supplements, thank you.
Performance anxiety and attitude…absolutely. I think that when he’s further back than he feels he should be in the beginning of the race that it gets in his head and he spirals downward. I’m working on that and thought we were making progress, but then last weekend’s race was bad.
I get the attitude. I’ve had races where I’m dropped quickly and just want to quit, but just keep riding, and concentrate on smoking people as the ride progressed. Finishing last sucks, but being in the middle and dropping a half dozen on the way to the end feels good. Better than quitting at least.
It could be sleep or, as @AJS914 pointed out, overtraining, too. What does his training plan look like?
I think this could be an important learning experience for him, finding out what is wrong and then go about fixing it. Learning that I (= my body and mind) are not things I can override by “trying harder” was a really important life lesson I learnt in my late 30s.
Sleep is an easy one: you can’t get enough of it. If he claims it is sleep, find out how much sleep he gets and you could simultaneously at the very least decrease his training volume. Sleep and overtraining could go hand-in-hand. The training volume and intensity I can handle when I consistently get 8 hours per night is higher than when my sleep is inconsistent and closer to 7 hours per night.
Lastly, you are right about wanting to work with him on his mental game. You wrote that he couldn’t keep up with another kid who “is slower than him”. At that age kids have growth spurts and the like, so perhaps the kid was slower than him last season, but grew some muscles, trained well, etc. and is faster than him now. In any case, even if he is not part of the front group, there is plenty to learn from racing. Managing expectations can be hard, too. If you are used to competing against your neighboring high school and usually winning, it might give you a skewed perception of how good you are relative to others. But if you cast the net wider, you will eventually compete against people who are plain better than you.