I’m hoping to get some insights into what I’m currently going through and some advice on how to move forward from my current situation…
Long story short, I’m 43y old and picked up cycling about 1y ago. I pretty much started with structured training from day1. I’m 187cm and my weight is down to 75kg from 96kg. My initial FTP was 207W (2.44 W/kg). Currently I’m around 280W (3.7 W/kg) and I’ve been stuck there for pretty much the last 4-5 months. Ramp tests are getting harder and I’m struggling to maintain my FTP.
I started my second TR cycle around the end of September, did 8w Base and just completed 8w Sustained Power Build, all at an FTP of 283W. None of the workouts felt very hard, and I even bumped the intensity on some. I’ve also replaced the typical Pettit/Fletcher/Beech rides by a slightly longer endurance ride to add a bit more low intensity TSS. During the Build, the first recovery week felt pretty weird and left me feeling flat by the end. Same during last week, also recovery. I also noticed my RHR creeping up and HRV going down during the recovery week. Also, my HR/PWR ratio during my recovery week was way higher than usual, however, I could not see any significant cardiac drift - most were around 0 and some even negative. My RHR & HRV reading were even better during week 7 of Build. I tried a priming workout yesterday (Truuli) prior to today’s ramp test, which went fine but I did not feel it had much effect. I really struggled during today’s ramp test and things were getting really hard at an estimated FTP of around 252W - I just felt I could not get enough oxygen in my system and my breathing was a lot more laboured than ever before. I pushed through to about 278W and called it quits. BTW - intervals.icu still estimates my FTP at 282W and Garmin estimates it to 281W.
I was quite frustrated and took my bike outside for a short one hour spin to get rid of my frustrations. Funnily enough I set a new 20 and 30 minute power PR (270W and 264W). It was a 104 TSS ride @ 0.95 IF (vs 283W) - NP was 270W.
During this sustained power build, I set several new power PRs: 5’, 10’, 20’, 30’, 1h, 2h. That said, I do feel like I would struggle with rides over 125km at a decent pwr average at the moment.
What is going on? It feels like I can hold a higher power for longer, but I’m unable to to increase my FTP? I’m struggling with higher intensities, which I did not during my first cycle, which was a General Build. I guess that is an expected outcome of sustained power build?
I feel like I’m struggling maintaining power for +3h rides, a lot more than I did during the summer.
Why did my RHR go up and HRV down during my recovery week? Why was it lower/higher during my loading weeks? Am I overtraining? I’ve read about parasympathetic overtraining of which a reduced RHR and elevated HRV are symptoms? Could that be it? Or, perhaps my body has been fighting bug over the last 1-2 weeks? (might explain why RHR went up during my recovery???)
Or am I running into the limits of what I can achieve given the current time commitments? If so, why does it feel increasingly harder to even achieve my FTP results of prior tests, even while adding a little more low intensity TSS?
Or is this expected coming out of a sustained power build? Does anyone else struggle with the ramp test coming out of Sustained Power Build? Would a 20 minute effort test be better suited?
Any suggestions for what to do next?
A couple of options I see:
- do the Climbing Road specialty which I had planned, at my prior or lowered FTP - I see no point doing that given I have no events planned. The only reason I for it would be perhaps to peak my fitness to regain confidence? I’m thinking there are better ways to use my time, eg further build out a more solid base?
- restart another Base cycle (6w of SSB MV 2) and move into a General Build or redo a Sustained Power Build?
2.a at my old FTP of 283W (disregarding today’s ‘failed’ ramp test) - if I’m actually overtraining, this is not going to help. However if I indeed have been fighting a lingering bug and this was just a temporary fitness dip, I may need the stress at this level to continue growing?
2.b at a lower FTP - eg 278W or lower - perhaps 270W or so. Maybe I should take a step back, reducing the intensity stress, reducing the recovery requirements, to be able to take two steps forward? Or does it not work like that?
2.c. in case I’m hitting the limits of what I can achieve given the current medium volume cycles, I could do one of the two above options, including some extra low intensity endurance volume/TSS? Or should I hold off adding low intensity TSS for now?
- skip base, and start a General Build cycle or redo a Sustained Power Build(?) at previous or lower FTP.
Note: about 50 days ago, I also started doing daily 15-20’ yoga sessions working on mobility and stretching. I would think this would not impact my performance negatively
Thanks for helping clear up my confusion!
I know everyone is different and much of this requires some trial and error, however, I think there are some very knowledgeable folks here with lots of experience, so I would hate to miss the opportunity to learn from them, so I can sort of reduce the amount of ‘error’ while trying.