Struggling to finish base?!

I started Trainerroad last season and saw a nice boost in fitness over my 12 week mid vol sweet spot base period. I had little consistency due to outside factors and didn’t even break a 400tss avg per week until the final couple weeks of base, but I was crushing the harder workouts and saw a sizeable jump in FTP going into build.

This season, I decided to give it my best and really focus on completing my mid volume sweet spot plan without skipping workouts. I’ve done a great job at executing the schedule and I’ve been above 400tss weekly avg for 5-6 weeks now. I’m in my fifth week of sweet spot mid vol base II and I’m failing workouts left and right. Stuff I was crushing last year on much less training, I’m not even making it halfway through now. I expected that my disciplined approach and completing would yield greater fitness but I couldn’t even get 5 minutes through the second interval of Lamarck.

I have no idea what’s going on, but my guess is that I should back it off to low volume for build, as it seems like maybe mid volume is just too much training stress for me and I’m beginning to move backward.

Any thoughts?

Maybe you’re training too much? Why is 400 TSS a benchmark for you?

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You seem to have figured it out yourself: your low consistency last season gave you an artificially high estimate of your then-current ability because you got a lot more rest than you were supposed to, then the “sizable jump in FTP going to build” made every unit of TSS much harder work than it used to be. You got stronger, but you didn’t get much better condition, and now it’s coming back to bite you.

I recently went through a similar thought process (see my thread on choosing between Base and Build for all the gory details), but my conclusion would seem to apply to you: you’re failing due to fatigue, and backing down to Low Volume would be the best choice. Once you’re comfortable and thriving on Low Volume, you can always add a ride or add intensity… I’m doing LV plus a weekly long outside ride, and loving it, whereas MV was killing me.

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Eh, It’s just easy to see where the line crossed 400 last season and where it crossed this season, and I can see that I’ve remained above 400 for quite some time this season in comparison to last.

I would agree with those above that it is a fatigue issue. You completed these plans last time but with more recovery due to skipping workouts. Also, you are in your fifth week of continuous loading so your fatigue should be at it’s highest. I don’t know your age, training history, lifestyle, etc. But maybe the issue isn’t that you can’t do the MV plan but that 5 weeks of loading is just too much. I would just skip ahead to the rest week and drop that fatigue. Before you drop down to a LV plan I would consider this first. Build will be more fatiguing than Base but it is also a 3 on-1 off pattern as opposed to the 5 on-1 off pattern. So even though every week is more fatiguing you may get on better with the more frequent rest weeks. So LV might be the answer. But you also might want to consider an alternate work-rest patterns for base the next time you go through it.

Disclaimer: I’m not a coach but just wanted to put another option out there to consider.

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Thanks. I’ve been riding for several years at a moderate level. I’m 30 years old with a current w/kg just over 4. My first go at structured training was last season, and I ended up having an injury that derailed the season… so realistically, this season is my first go at really “sticking to the plan” so to speak. I put in 5000 miles last year, which is fairly low but I did spend 3 months off the bike. This year I’m expecting 8000+ and will be doing quite a bit of road, gravel, and mtb racing.

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From that it does sound like you have all the attributes to support 400 TSS a week.
It also sounds like you have built up too quickly with insufficient rest. Mid volume is probably OK for you but you need to manage your rest better until you get stronger and more accustomed to the load.

How old are you? I ask because full compliance with the mid volume TR plans does not agree with some masters athletes.

edit - see you’re young. Stop whining. You have a decade or two before the dark ages hit :wink:

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One thing to consider if you have the time is to opt for Traditional base. Lower intensity makes recovery easier.

Ha! I’ll stop whining whenever I can make it halfway through a workout without total failure. I’m just frustrated because I don’t feel tired and I’ve put so much time into following the plan, but here I am failing workouts left and right, and I’m left scratching my head as to why…

Definitely don’t have the time. I work four 10 hour days per week, with the occasional fifth day. So I usually only have an hour or so after work to ride. I can get in 7-8 hours per week and that’s about it.

Others have diagnosed your likely fatigue issues, but I wanted to highlight what I think I’m reading from you here.

You maintained 400 TSS outdoors for an extended period last year, but while following structured training you were consistently below 400 TSS last year.

This year, you’re attempting to take your prior year’s outdoor weekly TSS number of around 400 and apply that to a more structured plan.

What I think is likely happening is that when you ride outside, during the summer, you are doing what many people do and getting in lots of miles/time but not with regular structure and a lack of consistency to your intensity. By getting this lower quality TSS you have increased your expectation of what you can handle indoors on a structured training plan

Assuming I’m interpreting your posts correctly - the fatigue is real and you haven’t previously maintained this level of training in a structured manner. It isn’t a big problem, just try reducing your volume indoors until you get back on top of things

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Actually, I started last year with a mix of trainerroad and outdoor riding but was very inconsistent. I broke 400tss avg for a very short period between the end of base and beginning of build and then tore my bicep tendon and quit riding completely for a couple of months. Once I was cleared to ride again, I just rode for fun outdoors but was putting in a TON of miles and broke 400 tss avg again for a short period before taking a break in which my avg dropped into the 200s and that’s when I began the base period for this season, and was back into the 400s after 6-7 weeks of trainer workouts only.

Last season’s tss was definitely very rarely, if ever, a product of consistent training… this year’s is solely a product of consistent training.

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with SSB for several years. I’ve found that if i get myself into a fatigue hole, its hard to get out of if you keep trying to do every workout as scheduled. They seem easy on an individual basis but cumulatively, there’s a lot of potential fatigue in there over time. If I don’t let myself recover, I enter a death spiral.

I’ve developed my own little “emergency recovery” process I go to when needed: If I catch things early enough, this almost always works. The big thing for me is radical sleep. I add a minimum of 1 hour to my normal target and ideally 1.5 hours. Sleep like its a ramp test - nail it! Often just 1 or 2 nights of that can get me back on track. Next, I eat like a horse for a day or two plus up my fluid intake. Last but not least, I will also skip a workout or at least take a hard workout and make it an easy spin.

Depending on how deep a hole you’ve dug you might need more but its always going to focus on the big 3 - sleep, fuel, and backing off.

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Outdoor TSS doesn’t mean much to me. When I ride 45 miles outside, TR tells me that is 200 TSS. To get 200 TSS, I pretty much have to do 3 structured workouts. There is no way that outdoor TSS correlates with indoor TSS. Not all TSS is equal, so I would forget about what you did outdoors and reset your expectations to what you can do indoors.

If your outdoor TSS is that jacked up, check the FTP setting on your head unit.

if your settings are consistent across all devices, all TSS is actually equal, or at least the same for the same efforts.

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The TSS is correct as is the power output and FTP setting on my unit. Podcast has stated MANY times. TSS across different activities is NOT equal.

That is a true statement but it is also one that is widely misinterpreted by people who hear it, but don’t really understand TSS. A hard 45 mile outdoor ride very well can be as fatiguing as 3 one hour structured workouts. 200 TSS for a hard 45 miles is probably accurate [I misread minutes for miles]. 65-70 TSS for a 1 hour interval workout is also probably accurate. You’re going to build up some fatigue from that 3 hour ride and, there’s a decent chance it was not in your plan so you might have to make some training adjustments to not end up in a hole.

What the boys on the podcast are talking about is if you go on a 3 hour sightseeing cruise/ice cream run with the kids and rack up 70 TSS in the process, that is not the same training effect as a 70 TSS 1 hour interval workout. You don’t get to sub the easy ride for the interval work just because the TSS matches.

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I don’t think that is what they are saying.

Take mountain biking for example. If you bike with a power meter you know that your average power is typically lower than it is on a road ride, but the effort required is much higher. TSS for mountain bike rides is typically lower per hour, but the fatigue created by that mountain bike ride is much higher because the intensity is higher, but the overall power output is less.

A group ride at a steady pace will still be hard at moments, perhaps you will feel it a few times, but you will have time to recover, efforts are spaced out, and you are probably going at a lower percentage for longer. However 80% for 3 hours adds up from a TSS perspective, but overall, you could probably do 3 or 4 of those rides a week. 600 or 800 TSS from 4 group rides would definitely not equal 600 or 800 TSS of purely structured workouts.

The intensity and the limited time for recovery make indoor workouts harder than outdoor ones, but TSS doesn’t reflect that.

This threat is about cumulative fatigue. Unless you’re wearing a Whoop 24/7, a power meter + the TSS formula, while imperfect, is the next best way to track cumulative fatigue. In fact, ramping TSS is the basic method coach Chad and every other coach of any repute uses to structure a training plan by building fatigue then resting and repeating.

The TSS formula takes into account energy and intensity. It does tend to break down on the extremes (long super slow rides and very short but super high intensity interval workouts). But for most riders over most rides, over time TSS is a very useful benchmark.

Certainly, if someone like the original poster is failing workouts, looking at TSS over time is a great way to compare the workload between two periods. And, when he did that he got some valuable insight into what is going on here. It turns out he’s doing way more TSS this year vs last year.

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