Is it ok to over train?

I suspect I am over training, but I also think it might be ok?

Today I had Dans in the schedule.

Dans Recovery • Endurance 1.0 Duration 0:30:00 TSS 13

I went out for a 100km group ride with 1200m of climbing. Just over 4 hours and a TSS of 229.

I hadn’t planned to do this, but didn’t know what the group had in mind.

I have to admit this is a bigger Sat ride than normal but its not that unusual, I like riding my bike with friends at the weekend.

I’m in sustained power build HV, just finishing week 1. This is the second time through in this training plan as I started it in Nov for an A race at the end of August.

Tomorrows sweetspot is going to hurt. Next weeks two Vo2 sessions might be beyond me, but I think that every week.

If I complete my prescribed workouts, but am marking them very hard and sometimes have to go a lie down in a dark room, does this count as over training, or am I just about getting away with it?

Would I really improve quicker/more if I reduced the stress/allowed more recovery?

AIFTP gave me a miserable 3 watt increase on Monday, which is about the same as I was normally managing when doing the ramp tests. I know this is not the only measure of my fitness and in general I am pretty happy with where I am, but it does seem a bit miserly for the amount of work I am putting in.

I’m nothing special and am still trying to get to 4wkg (currently at an all time high of 3.93wkg.)

I do think I am probably over training, but since starting my plan in November, I have missed or failed very few TR sessions.

I’m not the greatest believer in an effective minimum dose, or at least I think I can get greater returns going past this point, as long as I don’t blow up, but this is the bit that is starting to nag at the back of my mind. Am I missing out on gains because I am pushing it too hard?

I realise what I am currently doing is high risk and many people before me have blown up, but if I fail a workout, can’t I just drop one of the Vo2 workouts for a week or two and make sure I take the easy days seriously?

The other thing is I am quite old (51), but not really prepared to accept this yet and don’t wan to use it as an excuse, after all Garmin says my fitness age is 20!

I do have quite a few events lined up this summer, all of which are multi day events including one that is 12 mountain top finishes in 14 days.

This is how I am justifying to myself that it is ok to be training like I am. I have got to get used to riding with tired legs, which is pretty much how I always feel at the moment.

This week will be 16 hours (Monday was a bank holiday so of course I snuck in an extra ride). Last week was 12 hours, so they are not really massive weeks, but I can feel I am near my limit.

Is this what we are all doing? Or at least are there lots of you doing something similar?

I know lots of us add TSS with group rides at the weekend on top of our TR sessions.

I admit this week has been tougher than normal and I am wary of this only being week 1 in Sustained Power Build High Volume, which I know isn’t easy, but as long as I adjust next week if I have done too much this week, I think I should be able to get back to just about surviving.

If it helps my weeks are;

Monday - Off
Tues Vo2 - very hard
Wed Vo2 hard/very hard
Thur Endurance - easy /moderate (I notice this week is 2 hours, which is more than I have normally done)
Fri Threshold - very hard
Sat Group ride 3 to 4 hours coffee/cake pushing a bit too hard up some of the hills, but I am one of the stronger riders, so normally not too much damage done unless we up the miles.
Sunday Sweetspot Moderate/hard

I’d be very interested to know what people think, I suspect I am nuts, but I am surviving and have got stronger, so maybe I am right?

I’m also thinking just because I have got away with it to now, doesn’t mean I will continue to and it might be time to start thinking more about being injury free for all the summer events.

It’s a quandary!

Yes, it’s nuts. Outside block periodization I have seen no litterature which suggests that 4-5 days of intensity is the optimal training distribution.

You are training on tired legs pretty much all the time, which is a clear warning sign. You are not getting stronger when riding. You are getting stronger overloading the body, and then allowing it too rebuild to be stronger. through recovery. Right now, you are just overloading the body.

P.S.
Of course there are exceptions, like the speed skater Nils van der Poel who published his fairly sensational training plan. But even he had back-to-back resting days and spent a lot of time doing endurance training before entering a heavy blok of (threshold) training.

3 Likes

You might be ok, for now…

Maybe. But you would also hit your hard workouts rested. You’re undercutting your training by doing threshold / suprathreshold / vo2max workouts fatigued. There are workouts where you want to be fresh and push max power to drive adaptions, but you won’t get that if you are chronically fatigued.

Maybe your FTP increases are disappointing for a couple of reasons: 1 - you are chronically fatigued and don’t give yourself time to recover and adapt. Work without recovery could be blunting your progress. 2 - some workouts, like vo2max ones, require max power to put the necessary stress on your body. If you are chronically fatigued you aren’t really giving those workouts max power and getting less training stimulus than intended.

I think the answer to the question is in the asking. Anyway, my 2c, there are plenty of people that think they need to abuse themselves and beat themselves into the ground in order to make progress… Maybe, just maybe, there is a middle path where you slowly increase training load / stimulus and do it at a rate that pushes you just enough to make progress and that your current fitness level allows you to recover from. We all need to find that for ourselves, but I think you have the answer just by asking the question.

Again, the middle path… There are times where people will feel fatigued and do workouts in a fatigued state. Doing vo2max workouts fatigued is a waste of time and effort. Doing threshold workouts fatigued is a waste of time and effort. If you can dial in the recovery / rest portion, its really nice to hit some hard workouts fresh and see what kind of power you can really do. Its also nice to do a long endurance ride and not feel completely destroyed. More is not always better.

Good luck.

2 Likes

You’re doing all that and AIFTP gave you 3 watts? 3 watts is a rounding error. I think you already know the answer.

2 Likes

It’s OK until it isn’t. And eventually it isn’t… for everyone. You will have to pay the piper. If you want to be as good as you can be, you should be training with way less intensity. If you don’t care if you burn out or just underperform your capabilities, then keep beating yourself into a puddle of goo and hope for the best. But that’s what will happen: injury, burnout, or just serious underperformance.

But make no mistake: you’re not really training and improving. You are just piling fatigue on top of fatigue, and you’re not going to make any progress on your current path.

Good luck.

2 Likes

If you have to ask if it’s ok to overtrain you either don’t know what it means and/or you’ve never been there.

8 Likes

Take it from a person with direct personal experience with a very severe level of overtraining; if you want to fail your A event in August just keep doing what you are doing. If you want to do well in that A event then heed the advice you have received from the above respondents.
Trust me you don’t want to go down the very dark hole of overtraining. Quality training is about slightly overreaching your limits and then recovering from that so that you establish a new limit.
My recovery has taken 3 years and I have recently been able to ride and work out at the gym although at much lower levels than 3.5 years ago.

7 Likes

Overtraining was discussed on one of the podcasts maybe 18 months to two years ago. Basically it’s not a nice place and you should really avoid going there.

You say you don’t believe in Minimum Effective Dose but what isn’t often stated is that there’s also a Maximum Recoverable Dose. As you get older MED goes up but MRD comes down so you have a smaller and smaller range of volume (TSS or whatever metric you care to monitor) that you can actually use to get better. At some point the two cross and no matter what you do, you’ll decline at some rate dependent on how sensible you are. I’m 63 and have to be noticeably more careful about volume/intensity than even a couple of years ago. That’s with a lifetime of endurance under my belt.

One pretty consistent message from the TR podcasts is that for the vast majority of riders the Low Volume plans are sufficient. If you want more riding, just add Z2 or even Z1. Your “just about surviving” comment reinforces this.

This is anecdotal, but if you are really overtraining you might feel great now, but it’s a ticking bomb…

Back in early 2016 i was training for the Boston marathon. Goal was under 3 hrs. I started doing the back of the book jack Daniels plan. I thought the Wo were hard but I felt confident about my abilities at the time. But i didn’t read the fine print that said that the plan was meant to be done by the top 1% of the 1%, so people cracking 100+ miles per week. Me and my training partner did like 75% of the plan… We cap about 80 miles per week and the split was about 50% were hard miles. One of the Wo i feel more proud of was a 54321, this are miles at threshold and then time rest… We did it… It was crazy hard… 4 days later i did a half marathon in 1.24… then 1 week later i struggled badly to finish an easy 20 mile long run… And when I say struggle I mean really struggle. Like lots of stops and walks. This is the day that overtraining destroyed me. It took more than 6 months to recover and start feeling my old self again while running. Overtraining is no joke…

So, just be careful.

1 Like

Thank you everybody for your replies and sorry to be slow replying to you all.

We are sponsoring a Ukrainian family who arrived with us in the UK yesterday, so things are all up in the air a bit at the moment.

Overwhelmingly, you all seem to think my training plan is too much, which i guess is what I was thinking.

It’s sometimes difficult to know what’s training hard and what’s too much.

I am wondering though, if this is too much, why have TR built it for me as a training plan?

Saturdays aside, I am following the adaptive training plan TR built for me and there has been progressive overload week on week.

last week for instance I did a 6.9 Vo2 on Tuesday, this week I have a 7.3 in the schedule. It will be very hard, but then so has everyone before it and I thought this was the idea?

I am having trouble reconciling that fact that this is the plan TR has built for me, but it is too much intensity and I need to adapt it. Doesn’t this kind of defeats the purpose of using a TR adaptive training plan in the first place?

Not sure where to go from here, do I just back off to a mid volume plan? It is likely true that I’m not really the ideal candidate for a high volume plan.

Would that be enough to keep my training on track?

Looking at the difference between the two, they both have 2no Vo2, 1 threshold and 1 sweetspot a week.

Sessions are shorter on the mid volume and the high volume has an extra day of endurance, but they are not wolds apart from each other.

Thanks

Just my two cents.

  1. Trainerroad plans aren’t made specifically for you. TR plans are pre-written plans. Generally they are good but don’t take your individual needs into account. The coach who designed the plan didn’t know that you are going to do add hard group rides to the training plan. You are the only one who truly knows what’s going on and how you are feeling. You have to be mindful and not just follow something blindly. It takes some amount of brainwork but definately pays off.
  2. Generally, if you are questioning whether you are training too much, you are. It’s best to do a bit too little than a bit too much. This way you have some room for error.
  3. Overtraining is not ok. At best, it blunts your progression and at worst, you are never able to train seriously ever again. I’m not kidding, you can find pretty unsettling stories of overtraining if you want.
2 Likes

what they say.
If it is ok, it is not overtraining. If it is overtraining, it is never ok.

I think one of my issues is understanding what a hard group ride is and the effect it is having.

This week I have a 2 hour endurance ride on my plan for Sat. 102 TSS, nothing above 78% of FTP.

Most weekends I’m out for a ride with friends and looking back averaging 170 TSS(ish).

There will be periods in or above sweetspot on some of the climbs, but its not usually anything really heavy.

I’m not sure this is the bit I should be worrying about so much? Even if I just did the 2 hour endurance ride on the turbo, my impression is I would be in a very similar place to what I am at the moment?

Don’t get me wrong, I hear what I am being told and have made the decision to back it off, but is it really the extra bit of fun riding to a cafe on a Saturday morning that is doing the damage here?

It is that “extra bit” that is doing the damage. It is like the saying, The straw that broke the camels back.
The good news is that you can do that fun cafe ride if you ease up on something earlier in the week.

The big problem is that most of the time you don’t even know you are overtraining, until it hit you like a brick wall,

1 Like

TR needs to do some rebranding and more education about their HV plans. If you go to plan builder and say you have 9hrs/wk to train, they will most likely give you the HV plan. Which, in my opinion, is a mistake. Unless you are someone who can regularly handle 16hr weeks but then only have 9 to train then you can probably handle HV. But for the average 9-11hr/wk rider the HV plans are going to be way too much.

1 Like

It’s not the riding to the cafe that is doing the damage but the fact that you are doing it in addition to 4 other days of intensity. The HV plan is really intense so any additional intensity (SS included) is likely to be too much.

I think you are focusing on the wrong part of this schedule. It isn’t the cafe ride with a little SS that is worrying me. It’s more the Tues - VO2, Thurs - VO2, Fri - Threshold that is more worrying with the SS on the weekend’s tacked on.

If this were me, I would drop the second VO2 (maybe do SS then if you’re feeling okay), then drop SS on sunday and do endurance.

So the schedule would look something more like

Mon - Off
Tues - VO2
Wed - Tempo/SS
Thurs - Endurance (real endurance avoiding Z3+ as much as possible)
Fri - Threshold
Sat - Group ride
Sun - Endurance (real endurance avoiding Z3+ as much as possible)

Even that can be a pretty tough schedule but it is probably much more manageable in the long term.

It seems that you can’t see the forest from the trees. It’s not the group ride or some other individual thing that’s causing the problem (I just used the cafe ride as an example). You should look your training and recovery holistically. Of course you can do a hard group ride on weekend but as said above, make room for it and don’t just pile it on top of all the other hard training you’ve scheduled.

1 Like

Thanks, this is very helpful. I was thinking if something is going to give, it would probably be the second Vo2 max session.

I’m also thinking of mid volume, rather than high, to give me a bit of bandwidth to make a few mistakes.

3 Likes

MV + extra endurance riding is a great option for most people with more time to train vs jumping up to the HV plans.

The one thing to be careful with is that most of your extra endurance riding is actually endurance and you don’t get sucked into doing too much SS and tempo. Especially if you have a lot of climbing around you it can be easy to get caught out putting out too much power too often. This is what people commonly refer to as ‘training in the gray zone’. Where your easy rides turn into not too easy and you are then too tired to go hard enough on your hard days.