I have a bit of a dilemma here and would like to ask the collective hive mind of TR users for some guidance. I used to be reasonably fast - not world class fast but good enough to be competitive at local races - ~330W FTP @ 72 kg with a really strong 1-5 minute power. 2017 was the last season where I really trained and performed consistently, then life took a bunch of twists and turns - 2020 hitting rock bottom from cycling performance perspective.
Life is getting more predictable again and I’ve used 2021 to dig myself out of a hole, 2022 was just a stable year where I just consistently worked on improving my endurance and rebuilding the aerobic base through polarized training. Out of curiosity I looked at my power curves from 2017, 2020 and 2023 season (all starting at October 1 previous year):
I’m basically at the same place as I was at the end of 2016 now and therein is the question.
Can I train myself to get to the 2017 level, given I’m 6 years older now and in the mid-40s?
And what should be the approach? Try to rely on the adaptive training plan to get the best results? I’m very tempted to literally do a copy and paste of all my training from January till March of 2017 and just follow that plan as it worked really well back then.
Is this a flawed plan? I feel like I may be missing something and would love to hear others’ views on it.
Repeating what worked before sounds like a good place to start, but you might find that you need to tweak it here and there. Being older, your recovery might not be what it was, and you might need to do less intensity, but you can probably do a similar volume.
I’m a bit in the same boat - my fastest year was 2018, after that I tried to “train smarter”, and it didn’t work. 2018 I did about 30% more volume than the years after, so I’m going to try and bring the volume back.
If it worked before @konradkowara and you feel comfortable with it, there’s no harm but things have moved on training wise (TR have AI FTP D
and Adaptive Training) so you may want to try something new.
FWIW, 2017 saw me in my early 40s at a good level, 2018 saw ‘the wheels come of the pram’. Now in my later 40s, following a new plan, I am going better than 2017. Good luck whatever you do!
Exactly, I seem to respond pretty well to increased volume and training smarter only gets me this far. Now I checked what I did back in 2017 and it was basically a consistently executed high volume sweet spot base I and II. I think I may give it a go again but replace most sweet spot workouts with endurance rides - I do seem to recover slower than 6 years ago.
Depending on how important performance is to you, maybe this is the juncture where you hire a coach?
Here’s my reasoning. You are mid-40s and will turn 50 in a blink of an eye. If self coached training doesn’t work out, you could easily spin your wheels for a few years trying to get back in shape.
Your 2017 was your best year but maybe it could have even been better with a good coach?
I’ve never been coached but I kind of wish I had found better advice 7-8 years ago when I started training again after a long, long layoff. I’m 56 now and had my best numbers last year after several years of spinning my wheels, not improving, and figuring things out by myself. I can’t get those years back now so I kind of wish they had been more productive.
If you know what works for you, and really understand what/why 2017 was so good for you, I say go ahead and repeat what has worked for you.
Interestingly, I had my best year ever in 2017 as well as a self coached athlete. I tried to build on it, and improve, but went backwards in 2018/2019. In hindsight, I don’t think I really understood at the time what made 2017 so successful. 2020 was all messed up by Covid and I did more miles but less structure. and I started working with a coach in 2021 but never seemed to make much progress. Quit the coach this past summer, and really have studied what I was doing in 2017. I think I understand now, and have been self coaching the last 6 months and am just about to the place where I was in the beginning of 2017. Hoping for a good year, even though so much time has passed.
Your comment helped me a lot, I’m replying to it now as I didn’t want to theorize - just rolled up my sleeves, looked at what made my training successful in 2017 and instead of blindly following the same plan I took the best bits of it. Now after 6 weeks of base training I’m really happy with the results, here’s the season match comparison between 2023 and 2017 (with 2020 as a reference to my worst year):
I’m really pleased with the result, the bottom line is that I did not try to replicate the total volume but made sure there is consistency and progressive overload. Most important sessions are the weekly Vo2max on Tuesday and Threshold on Saturday - I make sure I’m rested on these days and I’ve been able to smash every single session so far. The remaining days are just endurance - no group rides, no wasted miles.
It’s quite mind boggling how a MV polarized yields a very similar result to HV SST - it’s only February and I’m curious how this will translate to real world performance but so far so good!
Yes I agree 100%! Volume is key and I wish I had more bandwidth in my life to tack on even more endurance rides! But at this point in life I decided all I can absorb is a mid volume plan (with additional easy rides to ramp up the volume a bit). It’s 7 hours a week on average and is almost exactly the same training time and training load as I did back is 2017, only I arrived at it differently:
There’s in fact 3 minutes total training time difference between the first 100 days of 2017 and 2023 . Only 30 hours of the 106 were interval days, the rest was endurance. In 2017 there was a lot more intensity with sweet spot workouts, but I figured these were not key to making me faster (even though I initially was convinced to the contrary).
It’s not just the power curve, but also other metrics like efficiency and decoupling are heading in the right direction, just 6 more weeks of base to go and I think I’ll be well prepared for the season. Hopefully the weather will get better soon and I’ll be able to ramp up the volume to 10-12 hours a week.
Short update - the approach seems to be working, I’m crushing it so far! I wasn’t even trying to go all out today, it was a 104% at ftp workout, I went by feel rather than trying to stick to prescribed watts.
I was tempted to jump into a high volume SS plan as that worked in the past but opted for a mid volume polarized base and I’m adding volume when I can just by additional Z2 rides. I respond well to high intensity workouts twice a week but I figured I do need more volume to really get the full benefit of training.
This means I do about 8-10 hours a week and I’m trying to keep the cumulative TSS on par with 2017, only I arrive at that tss differently than before. I never liked sweet spot workouts and while they did work in the past, I wouldn’t have been able to properly recover from them anymore.
I just make my 2 high intensity sessions an absolute priority and make sure I nail these workouts. Everything else is more arbitrary but basically I follow the plan and add volume only to endurance rides.
Get Faster with Adaptive Training
Sign up and Download the TrainerRoad app to start training. Available on iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac devices.
Ask a Cycling Coach Podcast
This is the only podcast dedicated to making you a faster cyclist. Listen to the latest episode and more.
We Are Here to Help!
Browse hundreds of articles in our Support Center or contact our world-class support team to get back on track.