Help, I've lost my ability to suffer

I have always felt like I have a real good ability to push myself further than most, but recently it is just the opposite.
I will be 55 next month and just started cycling about 15 months ago and started TR about a year ago. I haven’t looked back to see exactly, but I would say that I went for months without quitting on a singe interval and truthfully couldn’t understand why anyone would, short of passing out.
Then a couple months ago I took a ramp test, around 5:00 am and I quit long before I had to. Like my FTP was probably around 250 and I quit at around 220. It wasn’t that I couldn’t do it, I just didn’t want to suffer and just quit. I chalked it up to doing it so early and on my next test I took later in the morning and did fine, pushing my max heart rate to 196.
Then I took another ramp test about three weeks ago and again, I quit really early. Somewhere around 220 and I think that my FTP is around 260 and my max heart rate during that test was around 170.
Up to that point it was only on ramp tests that I was quitting early, but last night I had Bashful +6, a hard but very doable workout. I somehow pushed through the first set of intervals without stopping and I “finished” the entire workout, but I stopped often to back pedal during the rest of the vo2 intervals.
It would be one thing if I just couldn’t do them, but that wasn’t it, I could have physically done them, I just wasn’t willing to push hard enough.
I think that maybe part of this is that I haven’t done enough vo2 max work and I need to get back to that to get more accustomed to that type of suffering.
Does anyone have any other tips or suggestions?
Thanks

  • You started cycling ~15 months ago. Have you been into sports prior to that?
  • VO2 max workouts get you close to your maximum heart rate and you seem to be having difficulty working close to your maximum heart rate. Assuming that you tried your best to push through, I can say that you might be overtraining. If your heart rate is lower for a given effort over a very short time (say for 3 days), then you are overtraining. I cannot say for sure, but I think that is the case based on the information you provided.

  • What plans were you following? How many hours per week did you train, and what was your TSS on average?

  • How did you feel during the recovery weeks?

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I suspect this is a roller coaster we are all on. I have a similar experience and have found that after a few weeks of being somewhat quick to pull the plug, that I’m conditioning myself to go deeper and deeper again. I’m not sure exactly what the cause is, perhaps you are mentally fatigued from the training and need to try something else for a bit, perhaps you are physically fatigued? Perhaps you are bored? maybe your goal is no longer resonating with you? I’m not sure, but I suspect it was mental fatigue for me. I did a few things to get myself reset and now it’s a bit of a progression.

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This is a super complicated thing to diagnose over the internet but I think things to look at are:

  • Cumulative Fatigue
    ** Do you take enough rest days/weeks. Have you noticed mounting fatigue in your everyday life?
  • Lack of nutrition
    ** Have you been adequately fueling your workouts and recovery?
  • Lack of Sleep
    ** Lots of studies show that if you are short on sleep than your ability to endure pain is significantly impacted. This could be a possibility if you usually do your workouts in the early morning.
  • Life Stress
    ** Similar to lack of sleep, high levels of stress can impact your ability to push through. You have a limited amount of will power and if you are using it in other areas of your life you might not be able to put 100% into your workouts
  • Not enough recovery
    ** This goes hand-in-hand with the cumulative fatigue but do you actually take recovery days or do you use that as an opportunity to do yard work, go on long walks, or other physical work/play?
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All of the above and Bashful +6 is tough. That was my first failed workout, almost certainly due to cumulative fatigue. I’ve had a couple of other failed workouts since then and attributed each to one of the items @mwglow15 listed. BTW, the occasional failure means you’re pushing yourself and probably have your FTP set correctly.

When was the last time you had a recovery week? Any time completely off of the bike? Have you been doing the same plan(s) over and over again, or do you have variety?

As for doing VO2Max work, several of the plans have good progressions in them including SSB MV and Sustained Power Build.

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Not any real help but I have lost my ability to suffer too but it seemed to have let me go more sustainably on road :thinking: I suspect with me its 99% psychological. I restricted myself too much to 90% efforts during my chemo last year that I am not breaking that last bit that I think a ramp test needs. I am better at the longer 20mins test. Work out wise though I am better with the shorter VO2 max stuff now :exploding_head:

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Many of us are dealing with this. I had one tri this year. We are lucky enough that I could do a couple more MTB races this year, but tore a nice chunk of skin out of my foot so I can barely walk, never mind standing on the pedals (believe me, I have tried!). Plus we have a cross series happening now. And I am mentally fried with the unknowns of life.

Take a few days rest. Go do a fun ride. Eat enough good foods. You will find it come back.

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Thanks for the response.
I don’t “think” that I am overtraining. I think that most of my problem is mental. I don’t think that my heart rate is lower for the same effort, I just think that I am mentally giving up.
I have thought that I need to take a week off, but I have not done it since I started TR a year ago, though I have had a few days off here and there.
I have been on the mid volume plan all alone, mostly doing SSB and Short power build, though I am doing general build right now.
Most weeks my TSS averages between 400 and 500.
And I generally feel good really good by the end of a recovery week.
I may be slightly overtraining. At my age I think that I may be pushing the envelope, especially since I only average about 6-1/2 hours of sleep a night.
I have a little race coming up in three weeks and then I plan to take a week off.

I suspect that you are dead on.
My son told me a little while back that he doesn’t see how I am remaining motivated without a real goal. I think that I most likely need to take some time off, but I have the type of personality which makes it really hard. I have committed to taking a week off at the end of September.

Maybe a little mental burnout? Take a week or two off the bike, maybe set a new goal or two, and then jump back in.

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I have not taken much time off, actually none scheduled.
I think that my nutrition is dead on.
No doubt, lack of sleep is my limiter.
That is interesting that lack of sleep is tied to inability to endure pain. This may be my biggest problem. I was getting up at 4:00am every morning to ride, but in order to get more sleep, I have tried to adjust that, but it has made it a little harder for me to get my workouts in. I still have not done a good job with my sleep and at best am averaging around 6-1/2 hours per night.
Yes I have some life stress going on.
It is strange, but I never attributed stress or lack of sleep to an inability to endure pain. If that is correct, this may be what’s going on. I have just decided that I was a quitter.lol

When was the last time you had a recovery week? Any time completely off of the bike? Have you been doing the same plan(s) over and over again, or do you have variety?

Well I have taken the standard recovery weeks that are planned with each training plan, but that is it.
I have not taken any time off of the bike since I started. I just find it hard to make myself.

Thanks. I am starting to see a pattern here and thanks for the help everyone.
I don’t do fun rides, because it will mess up my training, after all I am training for the … wait I’m not training for anything. lol
Sounds like I need to get more sleep and take a week off of the bike
Thanks for all of the help!

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I think most of us are struggling with this right now. Most races are either cancelled or at a places we don’t really want to be around people (Im looking at you dear Florida).

I am training like FL70.3 is happening and like I will also have an Oly race on November 1.
More than likely they will not happen. But if you imagine they will, maybe you will be slightly more motivated.

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I do long distance stuff, so I’m almost hardwired to restrict my exertion so I can maintain pace throughout a long day. It’s difficult to translate that to a 20 min all out effort

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Your expectations might be too high. These are tempered over time with experience.

Also, and perhaps more importantly, an FTP bump usually means that some limiter has been nudged up. That doesn’t mean that each component of your body has improved across the board. As you begin pushing closer to the limits of each of your energy systems, your joints and ligaments, etc, things simply become harder. That is, riding at FTP is harder when it’s higher than when it’s lower.

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Every year since my thirties (now early fifties) I hit periods where mentally and physically I was just tired and ambivalent about hitting numbers. Literally, didn’t care. Time away from riding and even looking at a bike was the only cure. I know world glass riders who take their bikes apart each fall to ensure they take a much deserved break.

The more TR forums evolve the more users seem to be new to all of it (cycling, training, power, plans, pushing it etc…) and it’s just common for that group to make good gains, push it a little too much, stall, get tired and the combo usually results in the rider complaining like the OP. More disturbing, many don’t seem to ride outside much which I think is mentally liberating and the whole reason we ride, and/or train & race. With out that outside release it feels like incarceration to me. JMO

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I had the same issue when doing the ramp
test, so I stopped doing it. :laughing:

Like Landis mentioned, getting outside and riding or doing your workouts outside makes a big difference.
My biggest improvement from working outside is getting that “ability to suffer” back, especially when chasing a PR on a segment.

I’ve done a few indoor workouts lately (including the ramp test) and noticed an increased ability to go deep when I need to in a workout. I think that comes from the outside workouts.

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Sean Yates is 62… (great read – an makes me at 66 feel wholly inadequate so I hope it’s not more depressing to the OP :wink:)

Photos from a thread on professionals that look good on the bike over at the Paceline Forum (yes, grammatically it should be pros “who”…)

Yatesy in his pro racing days:

and today:

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Remember why you ride?..enjoyment.

Go out for a couple of pleasure rides, see the sites, grab a drink, look at attractive people and enjoy biking for biking sake. Go long if you want to go long. Sprint if you want to sprint. Totally open the tap if you want to do that. Just have fun and forget about ftp.

Rinse and repeat until your motivation returns.

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Also in the realms of not wanting to go too deep during my training… up to a few weeks ago I could and mentally don’t feel I want to at the moment. When legs were screaming before. I could ignore and carry on suffering. Know that on some of the workouts I could finish them if I really wanted to, but I don’t.

So I’ve binned my workouts for now, probably been 8+ straight months and am now going to do random bike stuff. Did a Zwift race the other night and really enjoyed it, went harder than I have done in a workout for a while and have another race tonight… will also do some pleasure group rides for some variety and maybe some Zwift group workout sessions, not going to plan far ahead at all, just ad-hoc, what I feel like stuff.

Will also get out and enjoy the biking whilst the weather is good… I’ll look at starting base again Sept/Oct/Nov ! I not committing to a date which is a good thing I think.

Sounds like you may be in the same place, just got to find a way to reset imo, this is my attempt, just taking a mental break from the structure.

Thanks everyone. There is lots of good advice here and I think it is all telling me what I already suspected. I need to take a little time off.

The more TR forums evolve the more users seem to be new to all of it (cycling, training, power, plans, pushing it etc…) and it’s just common for that group to make good gains, push it a little too much, stall, get tired and the combo usually results in the rider complaining like the OP. More disturbing, many don’t seem to ride outside much which I think is mentally liberating and the whole reason we ride, and/or train & race. With out that outside release it feels like incarceration to me.

This is so dead on, describes me perfectly and really silly when you think about it.
I ride on the trainer inside so I can get faster outside. But I never ride outside, because it will mess up my training. lol

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