Still failing workouts!

One year ago (April 14th) I was an overweight couch potato… so I bought a Cannondale Synapse from Mack Cycle in Miami and hit the road. My first real ride… all of 6 miles. :grimacing: Started using TrainerRoad in August, although I’ve never been very consistent about it. Still, between TR and outside rides, I gradually improved to the point where I can ride 50 miles at 16mph, with two short breaks.

I’ve lost 20 pounds. I’m now 48, 5-foot-7, 220 pounds, and my FTP is 195W, just short of 2 W/kg. I’ve made good progress, and I’m happy about it. I don’t race: I’m just doing this for health and fun (and I do want to get faster!). But I’m still failing TR workouts left and right. I don’t think I’ve completed any workouts without at least one brief pause off the bike during a rest interval, and plenty of them I just can’t finish at all.

I’ve added two upper-body strength sessions per week, and 2-3 half-hour jogs as well. Started a new SSB1 LV plan yesterday (and even Mount Field was hard…). I can think of possibilities why I’m failing so much and so often:

  1. Maybe these workouts are intended for people who are already in pretty good shape, and I just need to keep working for another year or so before they start becoming manageable. Maybe my condition was just too bad.

  2. Maybe I’m just not used to training this hard, it hurts like hell for everybody, and I just need to suck it up, keep going, and get mentally tougher. Maybe I should be able to handle it even today, and I’m failing because I think it’s not supposed to hurt so much and I’m wrong.

  3. Maybe I started failing because I sucked, and now I keep failing because I started running and I just can’t handle more TSS in my week. So maybe I’ve just kept adding work to keep myself “in a little too deep”, but I’ll gradually get better and I’m failing simply because I’m pursuing a very aggressive training load for what my overall condition would allow.

  4. Maybe I’m missing something obvious… which is why I figured I’d ask the brain trust.

I do try to fuel for the workouts (should one-hour workouts need that much fuel?). Starting about 20 minutes prior to the workout, I start consuming about 60g of carbs per hour. I’m also finding that I can’t work hard until at least two hours (or more) after a meal, though that’s a lesson recently learned. Not sure if I can add anything else that’s useful here.

Any thoughts, suggestions, or advice?


Are you doing the ramp test before attempting the TR workouts? im asking because the ramp test is proportional to your fitness, therefore with the effort youre able to put out on the ramp test is what your workouts will depend on.

if you are doing the ramp tests, try replacing the workouts with -1 or -2 variants, or if you have no time constraints try starting with a traditional base to completion before attempting a sweet spot base.


Although not as severe, I felt the same way after completing my first year of Trainer road. I spent the summer doing High volume zone 2 rides. This has allowed me to successfully complete SSB 1 and 2 this year. Just a thought

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First, congrats on the weight loss and the progress you’ve made so far! So there are a lot of variables for failed workouts. First, what is your cooling situation like? You mention buying your bike from Mack Cycles in Miami, so do you live in Florida? If so, there is a high likelihood that you are not cooling properly with this Florida heat and humidity.

How did you arrive at your FTP? Was it via the ramp test? If so, there are plenty of people on this forum who will attest that they struggle to hit the prescribed numbers from the ramp test, so maybe you should drop the intensity a little bit. Even though it may be a shot at the ego, decreasing the intensity slightly to allow you to complete the workouts will help you a lot in the long run.

When are you doing these 30 minutes jogs? They may be interfering with your ability to recover if they are too close to your workouts.

Lastly, fueling is extremely important and for a lot of people takes some trial and error to find out when is the best time to eat their last solid food meal before training. Stick to gels/high carb drinks within that 20 minute before a workout range.


When you start struggling is it the legs or lungs? I remember starting spin classes about 6 years ago and it was ugly, my lungs gave out before my legs. Those classes were at 5:30am and 45 minutes, never ate before and was fine. Nutrition can be very personal. I’d suggest trying workouts without consuming carbs just before and during, as an experiment.


One thing I have tried that has worked really well for me this week is filling a 750 ML bottle with 4-5 tbsp of table sugar and a few pinches of salt. When I drink that throughout the workout it helps give me the energy I need to get through intervals. Another thing I find helpful is Making sure you have effective cooling, for me that’s having two fans blowing on me during my ride.


Maybe a bit of number 2 (it does take a while to get used to suffering) but mostly I’d say it’s number 3.

I was pretty much doing what you are doing before Christmas. My runs would have been a bit longer, but I’ve years of training. Though I’d stepped back with no real structure the last 2-3 years. I’m a bit younger as well (41). I was making it through the workouts but blew up in the second last week of SSB2LV.

The workouts are quite intense with the LV plans, to make up for the lack of volume. The weight training will add a good bit of fatigue and if you’re not used to the running then your body is working a lot harder than a regular runner. I’m not sure there’s such a thing as a recovery run unless you’re a true runner.

I switched over to the Tri plans to better accommodate the running, I just deleted the swims. I’m definitely fresher than I was. I still suffer a bit after the weight training days but so far so good.

If you want to stick to SSBLV I’d swap out one of the harder sessions for a recovery or endurance spin and maybe crank the running back for a bit and then slowly build them back in over a few weeks.


I’m unintentionally doing a tri plan minus swim minus some runs right now (covid) and it’s a good way to absorb it.


Yeah I have to say I’m enjoying it. Workouts are a bit different too. 2km exercise zone here so no point getting the bike out. The runs are keeping me sane :joy:.

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Words of wisdom there… and riffing a bit on that thought…

here is what I think… pull up Traditional Base 1 (“TB 1”) and give it a read:

I’m pointing you toward mid-volume. Its low-intensity to build up an aerobic base. Just enough structure to hopefully accelerate the process you’ve started, without the workout fail part.

From the description, this is what I’d recommend reading a couple times:

“New cyclists as well as those who are focused on weight loss may wish to repeat this phase back-to-back thereby extending it to twice its length for a total of 8 weeks.”

Try TB-1 for two months. See how you feel. I went from zero-to-hero in 2016, pushed it even higher in 2017 and ended the year with enough base to do SSB-1 High Volume. But then 2018 and 2019 turned attention to fixing non-cycling issues and absolutely loved doing Traditional Base 1 and 2. Its helped me build a more durable base and re-discover my love of riding outside. I’m back up to consistently putting down 8-10 hour weeks and continue getting stronger.

Hope that helps, and good luck!


Yes, I’m doing the ramp tests. Last one was this Monday, and I got 191W which was close enough that I decided to keep my 195W.

Why might traditional base help me? I don’t know much about it, just that TR recommends SSB for most people.

go slow for awhile. It works. Give traditional base 1 a double tap / back-to-back - 8 weeks and I think you might be surprised.


Possibly. I do better outside by far, so I’ll address inside only. I had a Lasko pedestal fan, switched to the carpet-blower type Lasko fan so often recommended around here, and I’m now about to get another pedestal fan so I can use both types simultaneously. Cooling may be an issue, I’m still not sure.

Yes, it’ s a shot at the ego, but I’ll take it. I’ve started gradually decreasing intensity inside a workout; if there are 5 intervals, I’ll try to do 2 @ 100%, then 2 @ 95%, then the last at 90%. Something like that. Still sometimes not enough. Is it better to skip all that effort at finessing intensity, and just take a -1 version of the workout right off the bat until I can usually complete those? Or is what I’m doing a good method?

I run/bike on alternate days. Run MWF, bike TTS, rest on Sunday. I know it’s possible that I just have the conditioning yet to do all that work; but if so, is it better to do less? Or is it better to do what I’m doing, keep doing as much of each workout as I can, and I’ll finally start completing TR workouts over time as my conditioning improves?

Still learning, but I’m thinking that I need at least 90 minutes, maybe 2 hours, between my last meal and a workout. Certainly less than 90 min doesn’t work, as I feel heavy and slow and sluggish.

When I started, my lungs gave out first. Right now, it’s my legs. I allow a max HR of 185 and I’m quitting at an HR of 172-174…

Definitely true for me right now. All I want is to run 5K, but I’m not there yet and every “run” (still half-jog, half-walk) is definitely 40 minutes of very hard work.

Why do the tri plans feel different to you?

Read the TB description. Interesting… need to think about this more, but do I understand correctly that what you’re saying here is, that I need improved endurance more than I need improved power?

Also, why TB1 twice instead of TB1/TB2?

Yeah I can’t help, did the zero-to-hero thing and 7 months later did 8 hours of climbing as a Clydesdale. Everything now seems easy by comparison.

Huge thanks to everyone for the guidance and advice, for just taking the time to lend a hand. Much appreciated.

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Base before power. Base takes months and months an months. Power can be shaped and refined in a month or two.

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What’s your cadence? Is it in the 85-95rpm range?