Training Plan too Taxing

I am pretty new to indoor training. I started off with Zwift about 2.5 months ago and have switched to TrainerRoad,

I’m 59 years old and was a professional triathlete way back in the last century. I haven’t ridden seriously since the mid 80’s . My FTP to start out with on Zwift was 185. After a few weeks, it went to 215 and then a couple of weeks after that it was 248. I did the last test on both Zwift and TrainerRoad and they both turned up 248.

I answered the questions to get a training plan on trainer road. I am finding that it’s just way too hard to follow. I keep having to turn the 100% meter down after the first interval. I could keep going at 100% but I would blow up at the end and be wiped out for a few days.

I’m not exactly sure how to proceed. I am wondering if I should erase the plan and start over and put in a lower FTP or if I should just keep going and simply keep lowering the 100% down to whatever I think I can handle.

Is it because of my age that I am finding this to be too much? I realize I could have handled these workouts easily when I was in my 20s, but I am concerned with getting totally burned out.

Does anyone have any experience like this and any suggestions?


Either too much volume, or FTP too high i’d say.

What volume of training is being suggested, and how was FTP tested (i.e ramp)? Given increase, inclined to say FTP too high.

Remember 5 hours structured, is much different to 5 hours riding in terms of recovery etc if you’ve been out of the game a while.


Originally I had chosen the mid volume which I think is what was suggested. After a week , I deleted it an lowered the volume. I don’t remember exactly what the choices were, though.

I think I will start over again, both lowering the FTP and volume. I can always do more if I want.

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Oh, and yes, I believe I did the 20 minute ramp test in both Zwift and TrainerRoad that gave me the 248 number.

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Mid-way through the 1st block of base training, I really felt wiped out. I think this was because, although my FTP was set fairly accurately, my nutrition was lacking. Once I got my food/fueling under control (thanks to all the great podcast discussions and especially Amber’s nutrition principles which you can find on youtube’s search engine ), the training became more bearable. Basically, fuel with carbs unless you’re just doing a 45 minute Z2 workout.

I found that I could tolerate much more intensity, over time, once I started focusing on fueling and recovery.

At the risk of talking about things that I know nothing about, you say you did a ‘20 minute ramp test’… You might not be totally clear what you did to determine your FTP. Make sure your FTP is accurate. Some people think they get inaccurate results from certain testing protocols.


I think the mistake in plan builder is asking how much interval training you’ve done or how much time you have. In my opinion, if you’ve never done TR and are not a pro, you should start at LV at least for base. You will still get faster and then you can see how you feel and slowly add volume. But 3 serious TR sessions a week is no walk in the park.


Woah, holy FTP increase! Makes sense given your history, but that’s still super impressive. Downside of that is that I feel like (at least in my experience) a significant FTP increase sometimes comes with a bit of an adjustment period with regard to RPE and how I feel after the workout- I can imagine that effect might be pretty exaggerated in your situation. In any case I think either lowering your FTP or the workout intensity until you feel like the training load is at a more sustainable level is a good place to start.

Also how many hours were you doing prior to starting TR? If you’re still fairly “new” some more time in the saddle might be enough to keep the improvements coming and get you in a better position to tackle the higher intensity plans later on. (Trad base is a good option too!)


I think your FTP is too high for your actual fitness. That can be pretty common for the ramp tests. You might benefit from trying a 20 minute test, at least for now, which should give you a better estimate of your power at MLSS. The ramp test is pretty good for a lot of people, but it also overestimates FTP for a pretty big segment of the population. As a former pro, you probably have a pretty hefty anaerobic contribution to your ramp test result, which will cause a higher estimate of FTP. Great for the ego, but not good for your actual training.

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Yes, that’s what I’ve done. I deleted the plan and went with the 3 times a week plan. I did forget to lower my FTP though. So, I may have to start over again!

That’s what I was thinking too. Even though I haven’t ridden seriously in many years, I still have a “big engine” I suppose (relatively). I was a dedicated martial artist for 15 years as well but had to stop. So, I think that just given my past and my ability to inflict massive pain on myself, that the FTP number is just too high. Also, I just haven’t put enough time in the saddle to feel comfortable going hard for long stretches.

Prior to Trainer Road, I had been riding the six-week plan on Zwift and riding twice a week on the road. That’s what got my FTP up from 185 to 248. But, I am really burnt out now. Before this, it was very sporadic (my cyclng training).

I am having thoughts now that I just don’t want to get on the bike, whereas just a couple of weeks ago I was really enthusiastic. I am taking this as a sign that I’ve just been doing too much too fast. There is a disconnect in my mind given that the last time I was totally into getting stronger and faster (and basically obsessed) was 35 years ago when I was young. I find it really difficult to take a different approach now that I’m 59.

The other thing is that when I was riding seriously many years ago, most riders, even the best of the best road mostly by feel. You would go out and have a rough plan of what you were going to ride that day, but your body or the group pretty much dictated. It was always sort of an unknown adventure.

Now, with the more scientific approach that seems to be prominent in these computer-based programs and on the road with bike computers, the more adventurous, even artistic, component of cycling seems to be gone and I am finding that to be a challenge as it seems to take some of the joy out the whole endeavor.

if you read this far, thanks!

I appreciate everyone’s help here. I am going to figure this out!

I’ve also been struggling with insomnia which (thank heavens) is almost fixed.


The other thing is former pros whatever their sport know how to suffer…but that doesn’t help once you get old and the fatigue kicks in after several weeks of unfamiliar training. So maybe the ramp did overestimate…still no harm in dropping the intensity - it’s got to be doable especially when you get to your 50’s like we are!

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A common refrain about the Zwift plans is that they are very intense, I’ve seen them described as spin classes! I looked at them and just thought “no way can I sustain that!”

Some of the questions you get asked by plan builder are a little counterintuitive in what you should answer - the one about experience in training being one of them.

Generally the older you are (I’m 61 BTW) then look at the lower volume plans no matter what’s suggested and even if you have forty hours a week available. Rest/recovery is just as important, especially at our age.

Experience should really be “recent experience”. The more “experienced” you tell it then Plan Builder will emphasise more towards the Speciality end of things which probably isn’t what you want.

It’s worth running through PB a couple of times to see what plan different answers result in.

“20 minute ramp test” isn’t clear. Did @Ray_Renati do the ramp test or the 20-minute test? E.g. did he do a building ramp up to the highest power he could hold for a minute, or did he do a 20-minute sustained effort and take 95%? I assume the former. I recommend he try the latter.


It’s not gone.

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You are able to lower your FTP independent of your training plan. You said you had been lowering the intensity of some of you workouts. I would maybe start with that value for your new FTP. If you go into your account on the website there is a field for FTP. If you just replace the value there with your new, lower FTP then it will automatically be applied to future workouts.

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Many top riders still do lots of this. They may have power data present during the ride or only afterward to review but they do a lot by feel and use the power data to inform that perception. It’s a balance of using the data but also learning what it feels like. If you feel too restricted by the power numbers then there are lots of ways to throw in some looser structure while still complying with the “macro” structure.

Most of the super rigid workout structures are only there because smart trainers require a specific wattage target to hold. Computers just aren’t able to comprehend “3 min as hard as you can” so you have to tell it “3 min at 400 watts”. But in reality those 3 min VO2 intervals should basically be “as hard as you can”.

Also, because you aren’t a pro cyclist looking to eek out that last 1% to win the Tour there is nothing wrong with going a bit off plan to have some fun, adventure, or just mess around on your bike to keep you happy and motivated. You may just have to be aware of what impact that may have on your ability to complete your planned work and either reduce them or add in rest.

This can be different for everyone! For some that may be changing their lives to perfectly fit the perfect training plan. For others, that may be taking current science and folding that into their existing routine to make it better. And for others, that may just be planning cool routes and just going and enjoying the scenery with no care in the world for the watts they are putting out. And none of those people are doing cycling right or wrong.

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When I first started TR I began with Sweet Spot Base mid-volume 1 like you, I regularly shortened workouts and/or lowered intensity based on how I was feeling during that block. I was new to cycling structured training and going through SSBMV1 once using modifications then repeating the block trying to adhere to the plan has been a good approach for me.

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You don’t need to start over again to lower your FTP. You can adjust your FTP under the “Account” tab before any ride.


Yes! This is exactly the conclusion I came to this morning. I really just want to be able to keep riding for as long as I can here on planet earth. So, I am going to scale any hard training down to one day or possibly two days a week and the rest is just going to be relatively easy. There is no way I can keep going as I have no matter what the algorithm is telling me. Yes, I have become stronger quickly but it’s becoming a huge drag and I’m wiped out.

My guess is that most of these programs are created with younger people in mind. I now they as you age but I don’t think it’s really being factored into the training plan. As we get older the vast majority of us simply need a lot more recovery time after hard efforts, at least until a gradual build-up of harder training has allowed for a shortening of the recovery interval.

It’s amazing to me the deterioration the body goes through with age. My new mantra is going to be “just because I can, doesn’t mean I should”.

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