Threshold workouts killing me

I am a 68 year old male who has been cycling for about 5 years and using TR for past 3 years or so. I cycle for the workout, to stay in great shape and enjoy the endorphin highs I get doing workouts and outdoor riding. My FTP is between 57-60 and my power to weight ratio is 3.9-4.0.
I switched about two months ago from the Plan Builder workouts to the beta Polarized workouts which only give two intensity workouts each week; one at threshold and one focused on VO2 max. My FTP has gone up from about 190 to 217 over past 18 months. I also ride about 10-11 hours per week which include 3 long endurance rides around 3-4 hours each in addition to the 1-1.25 hour intensity workouts. I also feel great after my endurance rides but am completely wasted after doing the two intensity workouts. Losing weight also from all of this activity as I can’t seem to eat the 3K+ calories per day needed to maintain or even gain weight. Beginning work with nutritionist this week so that issue will be solved. Question for this group is is there any reason I need to do these killer intensity workouts each week given that I don’t race and am already strong enough to keep up with the folks i ride with? Can I maintain my current level of fitness without going through these 2 killer workouts each week? Would appreciate any feedback from this group. Thank your for your help.

  • I think you may be using the wrong Label. I am guessing the 57-60 might be your weight in KG (not FTP)?
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I would say the answer is yes, you don’t need to be doing threshold every week to keep up with your buddies. My theory would say your FTP is probably a bit overstated and that threshold is suprathreshold, which is really hard. Perhaps you test well, but you didn’t say how you are testing. Endurance would probably be enough by itself to keep up with the group because your group ride could be the intensity you need, but you might try doing some sweetspot for a while or lowering your FTP 5% to see how that feels. Either way I think you can totally get away with doing 0 intensity.

I wondered if that was a vo2max number.

My FTP is 217. My VO2 Max is 57-60.

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My weight is 55.33 Kilograms.

OK, I’d suggest that you edit the info in your OP to be correct for clarity.

Thanks. My FTP is from using TR AI to detect my FTP. I did have to lower my FTP today from 100% to 90-95% during a 4x8 Threshold workout. First time at this threshold and I just could not get through the 2-4th intervals. Did first interval fine but then could not hold on after 5 minutes of the 8 minute interval without lowering FTP and then was able to complete each of those efforts. HR was at my absolute max I want to see it aft 170 BPM. I try to keep it under 170,

I just did a threshold workout indoors, after doing them outside the during summer I was bit shocked how much worse the cooling was indoors even with 2 large fans. Just a thing to consider.

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I find the TR AI to be a bit generous and the ramp test if you were comparing the two is also probably generous to half the folks, so I think FTP may be part of the issue. The key to remember is the TR FTP is just a number. It is not your real FTP and FTP itself is nothing but a training tool to help select zones. Clearly using the number TR gives you isn’t setting your zones correctly, so lowering would make things much more enjoyable and probably effective.

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what @hubba said. I can’t do threshold work indoors, there aren’t enough fans in the world to cool a fat guy doing 300 watts, in the winter I can open a window and let the 10f air in and that makes threshold indoors possible for me.

Are you eating on the bike? That helps with the calorie deficit a bit.

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Yep this. I do threshold and above outside… it’s just better :grinning:

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I hate threshold workouts because they hurt.

That said, they are awesome for fitness, both physical and mental. I say you keep at them, BUT, if you cannot do 4x8 at threshold, then that really isn’t your threshold. I’m not one of those guys that says it has to be your “hour power”, but 8 minutes should be doable. If your cooling is good, maybe lower your FTP a few points, or let AI / AT do it. Eventually it’ll find the right setting for you.

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I would suspect this as a main issue. Keeping with food intake is exteremely important during threshold and vo2 max workouts. What is you carb intake during the rides? Do you fuel your rides adequately?

I also have a huge problem with food intake outside the bikewhen my volume exceed 10h - after 3 weeks I am flat and I need couple of days of easy riding and extreme eating to refuel my body, even if I do 90g carbs/hour every ride, the energy expendure on the bike combined with work is huge and I also have a problem to match 3-4k kcal requirement per day. When I am able to eat like an animal - everything is ok.

And from your workout descritption I assume it’s 4x8@105% suprathreshold workout and not normal threshold? If so, it’s basicaly 2x vo2 max per week. Maybe just do normal threshold like 3x15 or 4x15 just under threshold? Or you can do sweetspot progression, but long intervals like 3x20, 4x20 or 2x40 etc., or some sst with bursts (like 3x15@90% but spike to 120% every 2-3 min). Maybe this should be a way more managable for you.

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Possibly. If I recall the polarized plans were, and still are labeled Experimental? In my mind that’s not the same as beta. There is a thread where the goal was described as aligning with the recommendations of researcher Dr Seiler. But Dr Seiler isn’t a coach. It is all a bit confusing IMHO.

Beyond the obvious ‘your ftp might be set too high’ there might be a few other reasons such as fueling, overreaching, recovery, etc.

6 years younger then you and a couple hours less a week of riding. I found 2 rides of intensity and 2 of endurance for most of this year to be a good mix and led to steady improvement. I found though for certain periods VO2 and threshold in the same week for a few weeks in a row when the progression levels were higher to be just too much. I found toning down a workout or swapping out a threshold for a sweet spot worked fine as well.

For me I have found better success by watching how fresh I feel. Not by numbers but by how I feel. If I start to feel draggy or feel like I am missing the inclination to push then a bit more easier days works a lot better when I go back to the harder workouts. I do think we need to learn not to be fixated by a schedule and learn to adjust our workouts based on how we are feeling. When we feel good do we ride hard? When we feel sluggish why do we push so much? I am learning I am better off not to push so much. Take a day or two of an easier ride and then get back on schedule. I know father time is going to beat me but I can hang in longer with some breaks.

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My coach gives workouts with very little progression, but year round specificity (discussed on another podcast) and I’m sixty and averaging 3 “hard” workouts a week and 7.5 hours average since January 1st. We do things that I found works and not part of TR plans, like low cadence work (I’m 3 W/kg at ftp), training in the heat, doing max efforts, etc. Couldn’t be happier with results. YMMV.

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I don’t think TR accounts for age in the plans, and while it’s perfectly fine and possible to ride and train hard. @68 it’s simply not the same as @30… Specially the more intense stuff is a bigger toll and needs more recovery. I would suggest doing looking at your percentage endurance/intens. Polarized is something like 80/20 on paper, but in practice you need to look at your recovery.

For example, for a young athlete 4 hr / 1 hr might be way to easy and not enough load, but on the other end, a pro with all the time in the world will not do 24 hr endurance and 6 hours intense in 1 week…

I would swap the theshold ride with endurance and make sure you are rested for the vo2max day

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Your FTP is definitely estimated too high by AIFTP, reading this. You should be able to do 3x10 minutes at your FTP without having to empty the tank on the end, even on a relatively bad day.

I would encourage you to do one of the longer FTP tests (Kolie Moore’s Baseline test protocol is great and much easier mentally, if done right) or to simply lower your FTP enough so that the treshold workouts become doable.

Also, it sounds like you enjoy your endurance rides, are already strong enough for your goals (riding with your friends) and do not enjoy too much intensity. Add in your age and a probably higher need for recovery, I would say that 1 day of intensity per week is plenty. Especially if your group ride is also somewhat intense.

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Thanks for all of the great replies to my issues. I will implement a bunch of this stuff and hopefully have some success as defined by enjoying my workouts more and not feeling “dead” much of the week from my workouts. thanks again all.

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