Help with Analysis: Drop Volume or FTP?

I think I have a decision to make. At the end of SSBII MV, I posted the following: Recovering from Training Plan Collapse

What happened next was that I took my recovery week and felt strong at the beginning of the first week of Build - Short Power MV. I didn’t get much sleep before the Ramp Test largely due to work stress, and I ended up with the test recommending a 250 FTP. That’s a 2w drop from what I was going with during base based on this test: App froze during ramp test.

I decided to go with that since I assumed I would have tested stronger had I been less tired. Maybe that was a mistake, but more on that later. Fast forward 4 weeks, this is where I am at:

I struggled with the first Thursday workout, where I essentially fell apart a minute and something before the end of the last interval. At this point, I also had decided that I had underfueled for much of base and started eating a lot more during workouts. I then felt strong during Spanish Needle -3 and aced the next week of the build block. This also coincided with the cold weather in the Midwest, so I suspect my RPE was slightly reduced as the temperature on my garmin was 5-7 degrees colder than usual. Anyway, I felt strong and Lion Rock felt way too easy so I started all-out sprinting at the opening bursts instead of following the prescribed wattage. The next day, Sweet Spot felt way harder than it should! Then the problems came back: Tuesday I had to backpedal for 5s through the final hard interval of Bashful +6, Wednesday I took the sprints in Mokelumne to mean all-out, and Thursday (Mitchell) I fell apart in interval 4 our of 6. I gutted it out and had to backpedal and skipped bursts quite a bit.

I kind of want to give Junction a shot at full intensity because of the way I felt during Spanish Needle -3 and Lion Rock, but I’ll decide on that depending on how I feel tomorrow.

Here’s my actual question. Given my collapses during the last weeks of SSBII and SPB MV, I should probably make some adjustments. Here are three options that I am considering:

  1. Ramp test after recovery and take off 5% hoping that that will give me a perfect block and put me back on track. Then maybe always do that after the ramp test.

  2. Ramp test after recovery and only reduce vo2max. I actually find it hard to decide what workouts to reduce in Short-Power Build. For example, I have no idea if my problem with Mitchell is the burst intensity or the valley intensity. I worry that turning down the valley intensity would rob the workout of its effectiveness.

  3. What if my problem is recovery? So I suppose the third option is to drop to LV for the second half of build or just skip the Wednesday zone 2 workouts to get some more recovery and proceed with an unmodified FTP. The thing with that is, that I am not sure that my workouts right now are so unproductive that the “failures” outweigh the gains of the volume. Hard to say.

I hope this isn’t too much detail. I hope that spelling this out a little more might be helpful to others too. Here’s a link to my workout history: https://www.trainerroad.com/career/cyclhist/calendar.

Personally, I don’t see anything there to worry about. I think you’re being too hard on yourself. These are all hard workouts, whether in SSB2 or SPB. It’s pretty common to have some workouts where you fail or dial down late in the workout. To me, the intensity looks pretty dialed in since you’re generally making it into the final set before failure. It’s not like you’re starting your workouts and failing during the warmup, which might indicate that a plan change for more recovery is approprate.

I think if it were really a recovery issue, you’d have a much harder time completing those 2-hour Sunday workouts, but you seem to get through those cleanly. My advice would be to press on, start Junction at full intensity and if you feel like you need to dial it back or you fail it late, just move on to Tallac and your rest week.

One option you could try that I’m implementing is swapping the longer Saturday workout with the shorter Thursday workout, if you have the time. I’ve had issues completing the Sunday workouts coming off of Saturday workouts like Mary Austin and Kaweah. So, I’ve swapped Leconte with Lamarck, and hopefully that will allow me to recover adequately to get through the 2-hour sweet spot work. You could try something similar where as opposed to reducing intensity, perhaps changing your weekly structure to move the more challenging workouts to a time where you might be less fatigued going in.

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Thanks! I’ll definitely add that to the list of options, especially if the Sunday workouts start becoming tougher to make it through. Also, thanks for the encouragement. I suppose sometimes it’s hard to keep the long-term perspective.

If you’re looking forward to the w/o’s than just keep at it. If you’re not looking forward to them it’s not going to derail everything by just dailing it back until you’re mentally fresh again.
I thought your Mitchell ride yesterday looked pretty good for someone that isn’t really feeling it.
I did notice you eat and drink way more than I do for a roughly one hour ride. wowsa. Maybe I need to look into that. Sometimes when it’s just an hour or so I barely drink. Especially if I’ve eaten in the last hour. I am just starting to look into nutrition on the bike though.

Thanks. Definitely looking forward to Junction today, so going right ahead. Honestly, I am not sure I’m someone to look to for nutrition. I suspect I am currently overcompensating for basically not eating during workouts before. After the @ambermalika podcast, I decided to try the fueling thing and it’s been a revelation but mostly off the bike. I started using MFP and realized that I really hadn’t been replacing the calories I was burning at all (i.e. running huge calorie deficits), so I started eating at least 50% of the calories on the bike + recovery (and I do have a breakfast 3h before riding). I feel a lot less tired throughout the day, and so far, my weight has dropped back to race weight from last season and stabilized there, so I think I’m doing something right. But more monitoring is to be done.

Anyway, there’s lots of good advice in the two threads on the podcasts with Amber: Special Guest: Amber Pierce – Ask a Cycling Coach 193 and Intermittent Fasting, Lab Testing, Why Sweetspot is Hard & More – Ask a Cycling a Coach 194.