For those following the What Workout Did You Do Today 2023 thread, I’ve failed most of the workouts in Specialty since starting that phase almost three weeks ago. Below is my entry into TrainingPeaks from Thursday and is a decent summary / tldr of what’s going on. Even though it begins with “over-trained / under-recovered,” this is really a story of under-recovery. Confession (err … lessons learned) follow.
Over-trained / under-recovered. Was trying to make it to CFL before taking a break but the lack of sleep and recovery has caught up with me, especially with getting up earlier during 3SHM. In addition to general fatigue, my legs feel heavy and my left knee / IT band is sore.
Will take nine days off and see how I feel when I get back from vacation. Assuming I am recovered by then, switched the plan to Low Volume and intend to fill in days with Z2 rides, structuring it similarly to a Polarized plan but with the option for a long ride on the weekend.
Mountain Mama Road Ride is almost certainly a no-go. I already had concerns about the amount of climbing and this has shaken my confidence.
Need to watch what I eat and my weight. It’s already toward the top end of the band I like so now I need to really put effort into making healthy choices.
I’m writing this in the car on our way to family vacation at CFL as my wife drives. This has given me a little time to reflect and will be a bit of confession to hopefully get this off of my mind for the next week.
With long work hours I’ve always been a morning workout person, usually being done by 5:30 or 6:00 am so I could be to the office in time. Three years ago we moved and my commute went from 20-minutes to 60-75 minutes each way. In January work travel significantly increased. At the beginning of June I transitioned to a position of increased responsibility and while I haven’t traveled much the last three weeks, that will change as soon as I get back from vacation. Mid-June my wife and I also started carving out some time each morning. Additionally, I switched from Polarized Base and Build MV (with effectively two days of intervals and one long ride per week) to Sustained Power Build MV (four days of intervals per week).
In an effort to not miss interval workouts (some might say I have a little bit of OCD), I started waking up 20-30 minutes earlier. Then with all of the work travel, I often did back-to-back days of intervals. After two months of Sustained Power Build, the increased off-the-bike stress combined with lack of sleep (recovery) finally caught up with me and I started failing nearly every Specialty workout.
So… I’m taking a week and a half off. I already am starting to feel better after two days. The wife even offered to let me bring my bike on vacation but I decided against it to force myself to stay off of it. Nine days may be excessive but I’d rather fail conservatively in this case since I’m not racing and have no real attachment to the Mountain Mama Road Ride, other than it being a great challenge to complete.
Lessons learned, in no particular order.
- Off-of-the-bike stress is real. Even though I knew the increased work demand was adding life stress, I thought I could compartmentalize it separately from cycling. Nope, the body doesn’t care. Stress is stress.
- Listen to your body, it really does tell you what is going on. I was recognizably more tired and cranky, especially after work when I should have be joyous to see my family (I’m usually out of the house before anyone is awake).
- Listen to your spouse, they also tell you what is going on. This is the “I told you” section, even if they don’t use words that directly connect the dots between mood at home and the cause (e.g. lack of sleep / recovery).
- Put away your ego. This might be the one I’m struggling with the most. I really do feel that I should be able to ride a 5 - 5 1/2 hour century on a whim. Given everything else going on that is probably not realistic, not that I even have the time on the weekend to ride that much without a lot of coordination of family schedules. So why am I sacrificing sleep to train so much?
- Be flexible. I’m going to finish out Specialty on a LV plan and add in 1-2 Z2 rides per week, travel permitting. I also need to be ok with missing a ride or two when life gets in the way. I’m hoping that by reducing hours on the bike each week in favor of sleep / recovery, I’ll actually be fresher and faster. I’d be happy if I just maintained my same level of fitness.
Anyway, it’s probably my time to take a shift driving. Thanks (again) for the one way therapy session. I would be interested in anyone else’s story of under-recovery and what you did to overcome it.