How do I know if off the bike stress is affecting my training?

Amber brought up a really good point in the ask a cycling coach podcast, saying that stress off the bike should be considered as it affects us whether we realize it or not. I would like to give a bit of a context. I am 19 years old (turning 20 soon), and my FTP is currently at 293W. (I weigh around 67-70kgs). I am a full time student at a university, and have a part time job (usually work 4 hours a week), and I ride my bike for 6 days a week.

I have been using trainerroad ever since 2018, but 2020 was the year (and still is!), where I finished the base-build-specialty cycle. Given the above situation, my FTP went as follows in the year 2020 (till now).

Note: I added endurance rides to all the plans, so none of them are in-fact “low volume”

starting SSB LV 1: 273W
starting SSB LV 2: 293W
Starting short power build LV: 286W
Second half of short power build LV: 302W
Start of century LV: 308W
Second half of century LV: 311W

–1 week off followed by 3 weeks of unstructured training—

Now I started a new plan with plan builder, and it is putting me through SSB 1, SSB 2, and 1 week of rolling road race to peak. My FTP is now at 293, an expected decrease as I didn’t have any structure for 4 weeks. I will be resuming strength training soon as I now have access to weights, and will that unlock my potential to improve my FTP?

I am able to complete every workout without fail, and have never said no to any day of riding. Can I assume at this point that off the bike stress is not affecting me? I want to increase my FTP both in absolute numbers, and w/kg.

You’e 19? And male? and have only been on any type of structure for less than 3 years? And still making gains?

Ride your LV plan, add as much weight training and extra volume ( “endurance rides”) as you think you can tolerate. When you start “failing” more than one workout every 10-12 days, rethink your total WORKLOAD.

Or ride a MV plan, add fewer weight days and volume (“still endurance rides”) as you you hope to maintain over a course of time… When you start “failing” a “key” workout more than once every 6-8 days, figure out where you WANT to back off. Might be weights, might be volume, Its your life and I don’t think you’re getting paid to ride…

Or, if you have professional/elite aspirations, just go high volume and add weights very, very slowly.

Lets not kid ourselves, I’m just a guy, with a power meter and a modicum of experience.

My grumpy old man’s answer would be to wait a couple of years until you have a family, kids, a full-time job, a pile of bill to pay, and a mortgage and we evaluate how stress affects you then. :slight_smile:

But since I don’t want to admit to myself that I’m a grumpy old man I try to answer it in a different way (well, actually you answered it yourself already by quoting Amber):

How do I know if off the bike stress is affecting my training?

Doesn’t matter if you know it or not because the simple answer is that off the bike stress is affecting your training. No one is immune to that. Stress drains you mentally and physically and can also affect your recovery (for example, you can’t sleep because you worry about sth, probably not ideal for recovery). How much off the bike stress impacts your training is something that is probably next to impossible to quantify. Everyone reacts differently to stress and it’s also hard to quantify off the bike stress.

Regarding your situation: It seems like you make consistent and good progress. The added strength training sound like a good idea. Keep going your way!

To make the full circle from grumpy old man to wise old man I quote the Dalai Lama because I feel this is applicable to your question regarding stress:

“If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it’s not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.”