Physical and emotional struggles on the bike

I’m not going to lie, I’m feeling pretty crap about myself and my training/ fitness at the moment. My training has dropped off a cliff, and subsequently my health and strength has followed.

Every time I get on the bike (which is not super frequently at the moment) i just feel like its beating me. My training frequency, completed workouts, and FTP have dropped like crazy. Today I decided to give it a fresh go, started with a ramp test and I tested at 205w, a drop of almost 50w compared to a few months ago.

I really don’t know what’s going on, and how to get myself out of this slump.

Apologies if I sound whiney, or full of self pity, I’m just very confused and upset… I’m also concerned as I have my first baby on the way in around 5 weeks, and I’m expecting my training to take another hit because of that.

Any advice or similar experiences?
Thanks.
Tim.

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If you feel like something is physically wrong, I would recommend going and getting it checked by a dr. a 20% drop in fitness is pretty significant and could be a sign of something else.

However, assuming that it’s not something physical, I would accept the 205w FTP and use it as an opportunity to gain some confidence. Your drop wasn’t probably all physical. Given your self-described mental state, I would imagine pushing to your limit like you need to in a ramp test is probably more than you can ask for. If so, that 205w should be within your capabilities and your workouts should feel really good while you are working on regaining your form. At some point around this time of year and we’ve all peaked and are a little run down from training for a year, I like to drop my FTP. Last year I dropped it from 305 to 295 on my own. That helped me train confidently at 295 and ultimately I was back at 305 much sooner this year than last year. 10 watts is much less than 45, but given what you have going on and what you have in front of you, taking the intensity down a notch and giving yourself some breathing room seems like a recipe for healthier and happier workouts.

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Yes, I’ve had a similar experience and then had a heart attack. See a doctor

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Don’t discount too all the stress of knowing a baby is on the way! This is a huge life change and I’m sure you and your partner have alot to think about.

I’m sure many new parents have their training fall off a cliff, so if I were you, I’d try to make peace with that now and just do what you can on the bike.

Don’t let this worry cloud an exciting time for your family!

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Thanks a lot guys. Appreciate your replies.

FWIW, I don’t think I have any underling/ serious physical problems. I live a healthy lifestyle (bar 1-2 drinks too many every now and then :upside_down_face: ) and am functioning well outside of cycling.

I had thought about ignoring todays ramp test, however perhaps I need to reframe my training, even though its a hard pill to swallow…

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If your riding/training experience has changed for no clear reason and your fitness has dropped more than you would expect (you didn’t say how long this has been going on) GO TO THE DOCTOR.

My wife is training for an Ironman. For about 12 months her performance drifted down for no good reason. “Over training”, “smoke from the wild fires”, “stress from work”, “stress from the pandemic”, “a bad lunch”. All sorts of ways to explain why today wasn’t a great work out. We never looked back at the data to see just how badly her performance had suffered.

Then she had some tightness in her chest. Nothing “serious” but after 3 days she decided to visit urgent care. Nothing seemed wrong and they took some blood. One test (D-Dimer for you playing along at home) was marked stat. This was a Friday afternoon. We joked that as long as the doctor didn’t call on Saturday it was no big deal. 9:05 Saturday morning the phone rings. 30 minutes later we are standing in the ER.

My active, heathy, fit wife had multiple massive pulmonary embolie. That’s blood clots in the lungs. Fortunately, she has an incredible aerobic base. She was and is fine. She spent one night in the hospital (ICU according to the bill) while they started her on blood thinners. The nurses came it to marvel that she wasn’t on oxygen. Her hematologist jokes that he doesn’t see very many healthy people.

She’ll be fine after she completes the course of blood thinners. OTOH, if she had ignored it she could have died. We sat and read her medical file while I had an image of the pulmonary system on screen. She would read out where she had a PE and I would point to the screen. It was a long list.

Don’t ignore potential warning signs. It might be nothing. It might not be nothing.

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In 2018 I had a massive slump which I put down to overtraining. Turns out it was cancer blocking iron absorption at then 43 it was the last thing I was expecting. Thankfully however, once that was removed I almost got better overnight even though chemotherapy I was stronger (actually stronger than I had been in 2017 when I won the club championship). After my experience I would implore anyone going through a slump to see a doctor.

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As very well stated above:“go see a doctor”

If all comes good, forget FTP and ramp tests, forget TR and Zift and go ride your bike for the fun of it (don’t take power meter or HR strap) - I been there and this is what sorted me.

Good luck!

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You can get fast just riding. Put away the PM and just go ride your bike whenever you can. Pick a different route each time. If you feel good ride hard. If not, enjoy the view. Say hi to other cyclists. Smile. Wave to courteous drivers. Its just a bike. Most of us are just coming out of the collective trauma that was/is the pandemic.

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Yes, this. I was going to say something similar. And as Frank said above, don’t under estimate the stress of a newborn arriving.

Stop “training” for now. Ride for relaxation and fun when you can. Soon there is going to be less time for it as well as sleepless nights. Maybe do something different during this next phase of life? Join a gym. Swim laps? Go on long hikes with your baby in a carrier. Get a jogging stroller and do some runs or a Bob and hit some trails.

I’ve had this happen more than once over the years. Excessive fatigue caught up with me, and everything hit a brick wall.

Thankfully, no physical issues on my end.

It could be a number of things. See a Dr. to rule out any issues, but also a break helps.

Get into some other kinds of exercise and (maybe) get back to cycling sometime in the future. There are lots of different and rewarding ways to stay/get in shape with: rowing, lifting, running, swimming, CrossFit, etc.
Not worth doing something that doesn’t make you happy. Especially with your child on the way!

I took a year or two off cycling in grad school. Went from 4-5years of at least 10hpw and competitive racing to lifting, rowing, and riding a gym bike 3-4 time a week for 2 years. Now I ended up getting back into cycling and have been doing so for about 2 years. Maybe that will be the case for you

I second/third the recommendation that you should get yourself checked out to exclude something physical. Maybe it is only stress, but maybe not.

Otherwise, I’d stop what you are doing and only ride your bike for fun. I don’t know what your idea of fun on a bike is, that’s personal. I sometimes like a difficult workout. Other times I like a Z2 ride outdoors. Or a ride where I am unreasonable and just go for broke. But only get on the bike if you know it brings you pleasure.

Lastly, prioritize sleep. You’ll need it when the baby is there. Treat sleep like a squirrel treats its nuts: get it any way you can. You have 30 minutes of downtime? Good. Take a nap. But make sure your sleep is more regular and longer. When I train, my body yearns for 8 hours and I am currently not able to give it that.

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If it’s not too prying, did they say what caused the pulmonary embolie? Is it a genetic thing or ?

Glad she is okay and you caught it before it was any worse.

This has happened to me multiple times over the last few years. The numbers are similar to my ramp test results after life gets in the way of training consistently. 200 to 250 are the fun gains that happen relatively quickly and vanish much the same.

+1 Get a check up at your doctor. It can’t hurt to tick that box.

Suck it up and start training with the new number. Your physical fitness will come back up quickly if you stay consistent.
The main thing I’ve noticed is that my ramp test ftp estimate fluctuates rapidly even though my on the bike performance stays quite stable.

The mental side is a hard one. Everyone I know deals with it at some stage.
I totally agree with the advice about getting out on your bike for fun. That’s the main point after all.
Another thing I started doing awhile ago is ignoring the ramp test estimated FTP as a measure of my success. It’s very easy to get depressed by a lack of instant gratification due to an unfavourable result.
Personally, I’m always getting slightly faster IRL and my ability to keep going/recover is way better than in previous years. That’s the important thing.

Congrats on the little one on the way.

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Tim, from your opening sentence, my tingling sense is “just” that you have lost some motivation and are being a bit tough with yourself. Yes, there might be underlying physical things going on (if you feel it’s worth it, get a check, do some blood analysis, whatever), but the key to me seems that.

Don’t beat yourself up: we all go through those phases, and the key is to embrace it and work around it.
I’ll be controversial here: don’t train. No workouts, no FTP, no VO2max, no over-unders.
Get out on your bike, without power meter, without head-unit (or at least, without numbers), discover new places, find back your love for the pedals. Time for training will come back once you are back in love, and you’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll regain those 50 watts and proud in yourself.

My 2 cents and a hug.

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Beat me to it.

Leave the bike computer on, but have it in a pocket (or map with no metrics). I wouldn’t focus on any data (HR, RPE, power etc), just try to enjoy getting out with no expectations on “performance”.

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Plus one for accepting the lower ftp. Maybe even go a bit lower. The key to getting out of a slump, ime, is starting at a point where you can complete workouts easily and building from there.

No opinion on whether you need to see a doctor, other than that it’s better to be safe than sorry.

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Agree with the “don’t train” shouts. Don’t ride your bike if you don’t feel like it, if you do, just do the rides you like. Take the scenic route, stop for pictures, find new cafes, ride with family, or friends you don’t usually ride with. Don’t worry about FTP or fitness.

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Thanks all, I won’t comment on everything, however I’ve read and appreciate all of your comments and advice.

Thanks again
Tim

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