Those of you who have increased or decreased graining volume over the years, can you comment on how those changes have impacted your fitness?
I’m trying to plan out my 2024. As a very broad goal, looking at trying to dial back intensity while upping volume significantly. Have been 8-10 hours during the summer with…probably too much intensity. Thinking I could pull off 14 hrs next summer consistently.
For me, bumping up my volume from ~12hr/week to ~22hr/week (as a triathlete) for a few months really increased the rate at which I adapted to whatever training I was doing, especially in the water. Even after the higher volume period, I’m back down to around 12hr/week up until my A race and still really seeing a lot of improvements. I can also recover between hard sessions a lot quicker.
I did the highest volume (10-15 hrs) when I was in my mid 20s before kids and other obligations ramped up.
As life commitments piled up I changed to lower volume, higher intensity and that worked well for most of my 30s.
This is the first year it really hasn’t worked for me. With increased work stress, kids constantly getting everyone in the house sick, and just getting older
I think it is time to up the volume but lower the intensity.
I still plan to do a low volume + cross training focused offseason, but something that looks more like a mid-volume polarized plan moving into next spring.
Edit: over this entire timespan my training as been focused on long endurance events. Ironmans for a number of years, later into more endurance off road events. My peak fitness was when I was doing high volume triathlon training, but it was also 15 years younger. I still was able to do comparatively long events on much lower volume later though.
2015 came our 3rd child. 2016 I went back to more serious training and racing after a 5-6 yr break. A very active break though.
Bumped up my volume from 8-10hr to >20hr per week. Did traditional base winters with many weeks > 25 hours. Did volume training camps and so.
I did win a few 12h events. Was doing pretty well at shorter distances as well. However, I attribute this mainly to my weight. I lost a lot of weight (in relation to my build) and this was a true game changer. Skinny bloke ride up mountains faster. I could only hold this weight for two years and than I gained some again. 3-4kg can make a difference between podium and not making top 10. At least in XCM.
Now a few years later I still do 20hr (so I’ve been doing them consistently since 2016). But I’ve gained even more weight despite being quite meticulous about it. I don’t race anymore (most events died after/during Covid). However, my power is still up there but my W/kg sucks now. And I simply notice getting older.
Just riding a lot is not a magic bullet either. I’d say - depending on the target event - 10-12hrs is sufficient when somehow talented. Other factors like weight or talent can play a more prominent role.
Always difficult with n=1 self-reflections, though.
I am HAPPIER with more volume and less intensity, because it makes me want to ride more (and outside) and I rarely dread the upcoming workout like I do when I am in a low volume, high intensity plan. The only downside for me is that high volume, low intensity adds up sneakily on me and I don’t realize I need the rest as obviously as I do when I’m doing harder workouts. This is especially true in summer, when the heat really takes a lot out of me. So…if your body ends up like mine, don’t ramp up the hours too quickly and really pay attention to your body. For me, the obvious triggers are that sleep starts to suffer and I get grumpy/low patience.
For me, volume (across running, cycling, and powerlifting) has provided me with a sufficient base that I can maintain and then enter events with relatively a short notice period. During that notice period, I can specialize and shift training focus accordingly.
Point in case - I entered a 50km running race with three weeks to go - the base that I had accumulated / maintain gave me confidence that I had “the lungs” or “the endurance” to complete the race strongly, and I spent the three week lead up period focussing more of my training time on running / shifting as much residual fatigue as possible. I’ve done similar for long cycling events too.
always been working home-office. Project based work (at that time). At that time no particular interest in changing this. This means no commute. And flexible hours. On rest days I would work 12+ hours.
I was in bed at 9pm and got up at 4:30am. A cup of coffee and straight to the computer for work. On the week-ends often straight on the bike for a long ride.
getting in 2-3 very long rides 5+ hours per week.
wife’s a doctor and works crazy hours in the hospital. With shifts and fairly long commute. She’s often not at home.
we have a lot of family close by. One day a week kids were with the grandparents or with my mother. Sometimes they were with their cousins somewhere else or when I was at home the entire bunch was in our house. There was no need to “parent” all the time.
Grandparents usually picked them up from day care/kindergarten. When older they walked home from school on their own. Here the kids are back for lunch. This means despite my life I had breakfast, lunch, and dinner with them for most days. The two older ones are twins, expensive but logistics are easier. And with the third one everything is more relaxed anyway.
and more, and more, and more. Of course, it takes a certain obsession. No other hobbies.
Things have changed now. I don’t race anymore, don’t have that drive anymore. And I changed roles, got a people management position. Now I spend a lot of time on Teams. Still do 18-20 hrs but these are mainly the result of many 2-a-days and regular single very long rides/runs. Much easier to manage.
I upped my volume to around 8-10h a week for this year, especially since march. Had a bad basse period until then with lots of sickness thanks to the kids and life stress… I would say I improved FTP, 5min power a bit, the biggest Imporvement I find is the recovery. After long events where I went hard I was wiped last year for 3-4 days. This year I feel pretty decent after 2 days again, And I feel stronger until later in those long events, also I seem to recover better from hard sessions and can do 60-75 min TiZ Threshold session easier.
I have noticed a tiny bump moving from an avg of 5.3 hours a week in 2022 to so far in 2023 an average of 6.98 hours per week. My main focus currently is maintaining a minimum of 6 hours per week plus 2 gym session per week. Once I’m nailing that consistently and able to get my 2 intensity TR workouts per week then I am planning to work towards 8-10 hours per week (with the 2x gym sessions per week).
The odd thing, that may be aging rather than training related is my weight went up this year, in correlation with focusing on doing the higher volume consistently. Only a difference of 4-6 pounds but at my weight equals 3-4%. I think as I am still <60kg most would say this is likely a good thing as power>weight but it has stuck around. I stopped creatine for about 3 weeks leading up to my wedding and was able to shed 2-3 of those pounds but a week after the wedding, back on creatine with some wedding indulgence that 2-3 pounds is back. May see if I can shed that 4-6 pounds of weight over the off-season but don’t want to do anything at present 3.5 weeks out from my A race for the year.