The mere mortals journeys not to 5 w/kg

So, I am putting this here to just write and have some accountability for my goals and for us mere mortals that are not reaching 5 w/kg share our journeys.

My objective is to improve my overall health and try to reach 4 w/kg by the end of 2024, while improving my bike handling skills along the way.

So, some background I just finished the first complete year of structure training since around 2010. Started doing indoor rides in 2021, but with an old orange Tacx Flow that has poor power accuracy and repeatability.

In January, I purchased a KICKR core, changed my diet, and continued intermittent fasting, and I lost 7 kg (from 82 to 74). I am 39 years old and 1.90 meters tall. My “new” FTP in the ramp test using the KICKR was 166 in January and ended around 223 before getting sick in October and November. So I started with 2 wt/kg and worked my way up to 3 wt/kg. I finished the year doing the festive 500 for the first time.

Challenges during 2022:

  • Because I have small children, I ride mostly indoors, either early in the morning or late at night. So my average sleep is around 6 hours, which I know is too little to properly recover.
  • I love doing IF because of what it does for my focus in the morning at work, but it makes it challenging to properly fuel my workouts. So, I started doing them at night, but it impaired my ability to get to sleep.
  • Got sick from COVID and other things that kids brought from kindergarten.

Tools and apps used in 2022:

  • TR mid volume plan SSB then 40 km TT
  • Intervals for analysis (recommended)
  • Garmin Venu 2 plus for health tracking (good but regretting not buying the Epix 2 for the fitness features)
  • Veri for CGM for two months. It changed how I eat and what I do after eating, so highly recommended but expensive for continuous use.
  • Inside tracker upload plan with three blood samples a year. If you can get the blood work from your insurance or the NHS the upload plan is a good bang for your buck.
  • Kickr Core. It’s my first direct drive trainer so I have nothing to compare, but I am very happy with the purchase.

Objectives in 2023

  • Reach 3.5 w/kg with 73kg and 255
  • Focus on recovery
  • Increase sleep duration to at least 8 hours per night and improve sleep quality.
  • Schedule at least one skill-focused bike ride every two weeks.
  • Participate in the zwift Fondo series to make riding the trainer more fun.
  • Start strength training with Dialed Health

New Tools and Apps to use/try in 2023:

  • TR mid volume plan SSB base general build and climbing road race
  • Try other CGM apps to compare with Veri
  • Garmin Rally Power Meter for MTB
  • Maybe a Vo2 max test

Open Questions:

  • How to do IF and workout in the morning that is what I prefer.
  • What tools or methods to improve recovery
    • Massage Gun
    • Compression boots
    • Supplements
    • Mobility Work

The idea of this thread is to share your journey, comment, ask questions, recommend tools, criticize, encourage, and everything in between.

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You might want to add strength training in 2023, in addition to mobility work

Interested in your experience with the CGM. Could you elaborate more how you used it to make good changes?

I also train in the morning as it’s the only time I have before kids wake up. I force myself to eat something before my warmup is done. If I am doing a harder ride I will use a drink mix as it’s easier to drink the calories than chew a bar while working hard.

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Intermittent Fasting can be done in a number of different ways. Your fasting period doesn’t have to be during your workout period. Look at how you can move the fasting window.

Personally, I don’t care for watt/kg “goals” because you have no guarantee of an outcome. There’s no formula that says ‘do this training and achieve this level of performance’.

Watts/kg also implies that you want to go up hills faster. A big guy with a 350 watt FTP will leave a flyweight with a better watts/kg in the dust under many scenarios that don’t involve a hill.

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I agree. Process goals are much better. You can set a goal to average X riding hours per week and that’s something you have a lot more control of than hitting Y w/kg. But even then, life happens and it still might not be feasible.

Also, as you said, w/kg is maybe not even the most applicable measure of performance for a person. Peak power, threshold power or even duration that you can hold threshold (stamina, TTE) can be way more important.

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I’m also a father of young children. I have found that TR medium volume plans were too much for me. Not because I couldn’t handle the volume and intensity. (I used to do it fine before kids). It’s because I was too fragile when combining MV plus ~6 hours sleep, work stress, kids stress and the viruses the kids bring home. I would have good compliance then get sick and get derailed

I found that a low volume plan with extra Z2-Z4 time added manually as life allowed was much better for long term consistency. I had to learn to listen to my body better and back off when the recovery wasn’t enough. That’s working better for me.

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Have you compared how you feel if you don’t do IF and you do a fueled work out instead? I used to do IF when I was just weight training, and I slept SO much better. But I gave that up when I started riding more (need the calories) and I find that the concentration and sleep benefits from training are at least equal to what I was feeling from IF.

Also, how little are the kids? I’ve come to accept that I can’t do mornings, so I’ve taken to doing my trainer rides right after I make dinner (single mom), so I get on the trainer in the living room while my daughter (8) eats, starts her homework, plays nintendo, reads, and/or watches netflix, all while making fun of me for sweating so much. Then I eat my portion of dinner while helping her with any remaining homework. Done by 8-9. Also, nothing is better inspiration than your kiddo cheering you on.

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73kg at 1.90cm tall seems rather on the light side?? Obviously I have not idea on your physiology but, I wouldn’t worry about dropping anymore weight

(I’m 1.78cm and my ideal weight for triathlon is 74kg, dip into 73kg and I begin to suffer)

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Just looking at your goals, I get a vibe that I don’t like, it feels kinda unhealthy how you present your aims. Here are a few things that caught my eye:

  • You are 1.90 m tall, a body weight of 74 kg is quite low. You did not mention e. g. body fat at all. Aiming to weigh less could be (and maybe already is!) compromising your performance. I am way smaller (1.78 m) and my “natural” race weight is not too far away from 73 kg.
  • If your natural weight is much higher, aiming for 4 W/kg is prohibitive, larger, heavier riders often have their strengths at absolute power rather than relative power.
  • You quote a lot of outcome goals, and quite a few at the same time. It feels like you want to “focus on everything”. Especially for someone who picked up the sport recently, I think you should spend a lot more time thinking about building your aerobic base.
  • You write that you have small kids and you currently average 6 hours of sleep per day. This is likely your limiter as far as recovery is concerned. I have two small kids myself, so I can sympathize. My training volume is mostly dictated by how much I can sleep. 6 hours is nowhere near enough if you want to really do better.
  • I also know what it is like when your kids bring home diseases. Being sick is the most common training interruption for me as well. You won’t be able to shield yourself completely, but sleeping more will help reduce the frequency. Plus, it’ll make you a better partner and dad, too.
  • When you picked your training plan, were you motivated by anything other than FTP? You should pick a training plan that suits your riding style, not what you think might maximize your FTP.
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Yes I will add strength training using Dialed Health Plans.

Regarding CGM I got some insights:

  • On what actual foods and food combinations that give me insulin spikes. Some are a surprise, and what triggers me doesn’t necessarily my wife, for instance.
  • To move after eating specially after lunch (usual my first meal of the day) that reduced the afternoon slump This is almost common sense but with data is easier to justify doing it.

In training I just make sure I had my blood sugar high when started VO2max or higher intensity. But during training it doesn’t react fast enough to fuel only when you see a drop.

bin this list and just get a lot more sleep.

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Yes, I somewhat agree with you guys that process goals are important and being consistent in training is the only thing I can control. I don’t even know if 4 w/kg is possible for me. But I tend to be more motivated by performance goals than the number of hours of riding etc.

Here’s the advice you don’t want;

  1. Don’t lose any more weight.

  2. Train in the morning, Hit the sugar when you wake. You’re doing 60-90 min workouts. It’s not that big of a deal either way.

  3. Do a Low Volume plan, focus on more sleep. You’ll see bigger gains.

  4. With the extra time incorporate some strength and mobility. You’re approaching 40. Ultimately this is going to be far more important to your overall health than 4w/kg.

  5. You’re gonna hit 4w/kg. No doubt. Just give it time and don’t focus on it.

  6. I’m pretty sus about this current obsession with intermittent fasting.

  7. Ditch the Garmin. Get the Assioma pedals.

  8. Have fun baby. You’re in it for the long haul not the smash and grab!

:heart:

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You can define it as different power-based goal(s) that are useful:

  • extend continuous interval at SS intensity, 2h is hard but achievable goal, for example
  • ability to keep FTP for 1h (i.e. extend TTE, Time To Exhaustion, usually it is in 35-50min ballpark)
  • and so on
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I actually think your low weight is the biggest performance inhibitor, even more so than the six hours of sleep.

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My kids are 5 and almost 2. With the 5 year-old, I can do what you describe with no problem; she can play for the length of my workout. I sometimes do a variation of this on weekends when the smaller one is taking his nap. But before dinner time, this is not possible with the smaller one trying to stuff things in his mouth.
Regarding IF and everyone’s feedback, maybe I will just go off it for a while and see how I feel.

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As someone who has been intermittent fasting for over 5 years and recently gave it up I might be able to provide some insight. I am 6’1" and went from 277 lbs to 215 with intermittent fasting alone. Then went from 215 to 173 with with intermittent fasting and exercise.

However I noticed that I had plateaued in my weight loss and how fast I was getting on the bike. I recently started adding high fiber foods for breakfast and have gained minimal weight while my strength on the bike has improved.

I believe it is because my glycogen levels are more consistent. Instead of trying to catch up before and after exercising with whatever food I could find (typically high sugar) to replace the glycogen, I now eat high fiber carbohydrate rich foods earlier in the day that provide the steady energy I need later to tackle my workout.

Additionally while I feel IM curbs some unhealthy eating habits it also creates unhealthy eating habits by condensing eating to a short period that results in binging when trying to consume 2.5-4k calories depending on the days workout. I was a staunch advocate for IM and still am for someone that needs to lose a significant amount of weight but not for athletes trying to fuel endurance exercise.

On a side note my gut health significantly improved with IM however I feel I am getting even better benefits breaking my fast early with high fiber foods.

As far as the clarity of an empty stomach in the morning (as someone who starts work at 6am I can appreciate this) I can say that a fiber rich breakfast will not make you feel groggy. Instead it will actually provide you more energy and focus. Additionally I would get sleepy after eating my first meal with IM however now I do not get this lag.

I think what made this clear for me was the fact that on days I had longer fast rides I was not intermittent fasting because I knew I needed to preload those calories to avoid bonking. That in and of itself was enough evidence for me that IM is not fueling strategy but a weight loss strategy. Once you lose the weight you need to transition to fueling to achieve the best result possible.

(Edit: I am 38 years old, I have been cycling seriously for about a year, with children ages 5 and 2, train 6-8 hours a week, and have an FTP of 268 (I would like to obtain 4.0w/kg as well).

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My advice is stop thinking about the outcome and the future - you are limited in time, so the more time you spend being frantic over the details - the less time you have actually training and resting.

Get 8+ hours of sleep - eat more, especially on the bike. Get on the trainer 3 times a week (low volume), easy on easy days, hard on hard days. Done…

Oh and don’t get the Garmin Rallys!

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For those wanting/striving to get to 4.0 w/kg.

I started with TR at 2.5 w/kg. All I wanted was to get to 4 w/kg. Well I eventually got there years later and it was very unfulfilling. It felt cool for about a day then I was back to training. I’ve gained far more satisfaction from process goals and performance.

There is no prize at the end. The journey is the prize so enjoy the development and improvement.

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I am going go against the forum echo chamber here a bit:

Outcome goals are fine as long as you are not hard on yourself for not hitting them. This is true for process goals as well. Moreover, anyone with an A-race has an outcome goal. It might be to finish, but having an A-race means you want to do well (whatever that means for you). If you don’t care about doing well, why is it an A-race? The problem arises when you don’t do well and it you are hard on yourself.

More to the point, the act of training implies an outcome goal. It might be to maintain fitness, improve fitness, etc., but it is there. If anyone thinks this is false ask yourself the following question:

If I hit all of my process goals for training but my fitness, performance, or whatever is driving me to train decreases, am I going to do the same training plan again next year?

For me, the answer is a resounding no. It would be no regardless of how much I love training.

I would also argue that process goals can be just as bad as outcome goals. I set a process goal for cycling this year and just last night I was feeling conflicted about wanting to do other hobbies. I wanted to go snowboarding but I sat on the indoor trainer instead. I have since changed my goal. Why do I care about biking a certain number of hours when at the end of the day I want to see fitness improvements? I know more volume will likely lead to more fitness (which is why I set the goal), but if I could get to 4 w/kg on 6 hours a week I would do it.

This is how I feel after hitting all goals, to be honest. Maybe on Dec 31. I will be proud that I hit my process goal for the year. On Jan 2 I will be back to training.

There is nothing saying you can’t have both. A while back I had a goal to hit 3 w/kg. I hit my goal despite several setbacks. It made me feel proud and motivated me to stick to my process goals despite having setbacks.

It is always people with high w/kg or FTP who tell others not to focus on it - that those things don’t guarantee performance. While true, there is also a base level of fitness that is needed to perform well. If you already have that base level, it might not be worth focusing on those. If you don’t have that base level, it is.

When I was 31 I made a goal “to have the fitness to finish on the podium” for a specific race at age 35. Maybe I have a bad day, maybe I get a flat, but as long as it is not my fitness that holds me back I will be super happy. However, this goal literally won’t be possible unless I get my FTP to a certain level. I’d like to have an FTP of 350. I might only need 320 to achieve my goal, but having an FTP of 350 will only increase my chances.

FTP of 350 is not the only thing I am focusing on. I have dialed in nutrition. I have dialed in pacing strategy. I have improved my ability to descend on sketchy gravel roads, etc. At the same time, perfect nutrition, pacing, and everything else doesn’t matter if I don’t have the fitness.

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