Stick a Fork in Me I’m Done?

Although I’ve been training on TR for less time, your experience sounds a lot like what I went through. I asked a bunch of questions (see this thread if you’d like detail), but in the end the answer was the same one I’d suggest to you as others have:

You appear to be training too hard, and you don’t have the base for it. Your body can handle the intensity but not the cumulative workload… so you improve, you overshoot your fatigue limitations without realizing it, then you fall back and it’s hard to recover. It sounds exactly like what I did.

The solution to my problem was to back off the intensity for a while and focus on building a base: long, slow distance at Zone 2 power (roughly 60% to 65% power). This creates totally different physiological adaptations in your muscles and in your body overall, adaptations that are different AND complementary to what you get at high intensity. You really need to do both sweet-spot and LSD work if your body is not yet well-trained and well-adapted.

Since I’m in Miami, and it’s sunny/hot/humid and I always have winds, and I’m aging (48) and overweight (225 lbs), I targeted 65% power but with a HR cap at 75% of my max HR so I wouldn’t overwork myself. And then I just did miles and miles of “easy” rides… which were also kind of fun since I wasn’t working as hard and could watch the scenery and think a little.

A couple of months later, my FTP has rebounded to a new high (still just 199W, but my best yet!), I feel rested, ready to get on the bike, and I’m back to two 1-hour strength-training sessions (Tue/Thu), two 1-hour sweet-spot workouts (Mon/Wed), and one long/slow weekend ride to continue building that base. And I feel fantastic.

Your training is a marathon, not a sprint. First, rest and recover and shake off the overtraining… however long that takes. Then, build your base. Then you can come back and add some intensity back in, gradually. Do this well, and in 3-4 months you’re going to feel like a rocket ship.

TR is a great program, based on good hard solid science. There are other great programs, with slightly different styles but all based on similar science. I promise you are not facing a “TR is not for me” problem, just a “beat my body into a pulp” problem.

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Yeah I agree on this as being almost the exact same specs as you. If I threw myself straight into 3 days/week sweetspot right out of the gate I’d be a hot mess of injuries and grumpiness. I found the right formula for me was 2 sweetspot and 1 LSD a week. The LSD is more enjoyable outdoor and I can go from 1.5 - 6 hours depending on my mood. I slowly started adding 1 or 2 recovery rides a week or really, really low wattage (like 40%) for max 60 min. I find I stay looser with that then sitting and I get a bit of that LSD you’re talking about.

Right now I feel stronger on the bike than I ever have. I don’t really care what my FTP says (that’s a lie cause I have a watts goal), but I see all sorts of perks like noticeably stronger active recovery and endurance.

There is lots of repetitive strain that can kick in when you get a bit older. When I start hating my bike workouts that’s the time to switch things up and not be a slave to the program. Ride a leisure bike off road or go for a swim or something that will recharge your battery. Also consider strength training for a few months. Nothing wrong with “break even” on the bike while you get your head and body sorted out.

I’m sure the OP consider core strengthening and activation exercises as well. I find I can crush things more with a strong back and active glutes. When I first started, I wasn’t using my largest muscles at all … my glutes. I started adding bridges before a bike ride to make sure they were firing. It took a couple months to get them going. But enough about my ass…

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Thanks, what is “OP”?
Good feedback. I’ve been riding outside lately and feeling pretty good. Not sure what my FTP is but will worry about that in September.

OP = Original Post

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Hi @CaptainEndo,

I have had a similar experience to you and finally have made a breakthrough. I only got back into riding and very quickly into structured rising in 2017. About mid 2017 I had an ftp of about 250. I tried Zwift ftp build program which was total trash and way to much volume before I found TrainerRoad late 2017.

Now from here is were I have the ups and downs you talk about. I started with LVSSB 1 & 2 and moved to Sustained Power build. FTP tests seemed to drop me down to about 230’s. Summer came and I wasn’t enjoying the build program and stepped away mid way through to just ride and enjoy myself again. I was getting into negative mind space and training wasn’t effective.

I came back and succeeded with SSBMV 2 and lots of long distance outdoors riding on weekends and then Sustained Power Build MV where I tested at my best of 259. … But I found the volume was just a bit too much for me (family, work and leg pain). I took 4 weeks off the bike vacationing in the US with my family and when I came back (fatter) I wasn’t able to continue with Build program… I was finding my metatarsals were hurting and preventing me pushing power and frankly it wasn’t enjoyable. So I took more time off the bike and started running for the first time in my life, and actually made lots of improvements (which has also helped with overall base fitness on bike).

now here is where things take a turn for the better… well in respect to biking performance.

Covid-19 comes along and Melbourne goes into lockdown and I commence the biggest training block of my life… but Low Volume. I ramp at a all time low of 221, but from the podcast and here, I don’t let that define who I am, but rather to help set my training for SSBLV 2. I get through that but feet start hurting again and I start research. I ramp test again and get 240 (great progress) but my feet are hurting. I find a Francis Cade Bike fit Tuesday on cleat position on foot pain and here is where big gains start… first it was mental success, I got through the first half of general build with no foot pain. At the end of the first rest week I went for a hard outdoor ride and cooked myself (stupid me) and 2 days later when I ramped it came out at 240 again… I was disappointed. The nest couple of workouts I was failing at and when I vented to a mate, he recommended I skip my next workout. I did and it was the rest I needed. I nailed every workout after that.

Second gain comes here — Part way through the second half of LV General Build I move my pain cave out to my garage as it was winter and trying to train in house with heater can family was distracting and I was also overheating. I smashed the workouts and even doubled up on the last workout of Galena +2 by doing it again back to back (I was riding Mont ventoux on Zwift). With the rest week, I actually stuck to the program with no other riding and for the first time have made it to specialty phase. I ramped at 277 and all time high and have had a successful start followed by a couple weeks of workouts where I need to stop for a break (either tired legs or just not mentally strong). Either way, I finish the workout (or sometime bail) but feel I am getting stronger even if not finishing the workouts without rests.

TL;DR version
Started at 250ish had big declines, never got past a build phase got to 221 all time low before making breakthroughs and now at 277. (2.7 w/kg :sob: )

  1. Make sure I get enough rest. MV is just too much for me
  2. Make sure your bike fit/shoe fit is correct, pushing the cleats as far back as possible removed feet pain
  3. Make sure you aren’t overheating, that was killing top end performance.
  4. Its ok to not succeed in all workout. Just because other can do it, doesn’t mean you won’t improve. Find what works for you.
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Hey, I enjoyed this post! Can you go a little bit more into load and how someone can measure if they aren’t recovering enough?

Ha, everything I know about structuring a training plan I’ve learned from reverse-engineering the TR plans, so I’m probably not the best person to answer this question. When I say “load” I’m talking about “Training Stress Score”, and there’s a good explainer for that on the TR blog:

So using the first block from those Short Power plans as an example:

  LV MV HV
Load weeks 792 1328 1665
Recovery week 194 358 410
Recovery percentage 24% 27% 25%

The exact numbers will look different for you because the plans scale to your current progression levels, but you can see the gist: Recovery weeks are about a quarter the load of the previous build weeks.

The Rolling Road Race plans are similar:

  LV MV HV
Load weeks 676 1298 1322
Recovery week 173 319 341
Recovery percentage 26% 25% 26%

The load weeks themselves usually build on the previous week’s TSS by 5-10%.

Standard disclaimers apply, TSS isn’t everything, everybody recovers differently, listen to your body, fuel the work, and so on, but if I were building a plan from scratch, I’d start with that relative split and then see how my body reacted. It’s normal to feel fatigued and unmotivated during the recovery week, but if you’re still feeling that way by the time the next block starts, you might need a few more days.

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