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Advise on Late Season Fatigue

krispenhartungkrispenhartung Posts: 10
Hi all –

I’m looking for some feedback from the coaches or race veterans here on the forum regarding an issue I’m experiencing with fatigue resistance and power loss this season. It is very frustrating and I am somewhat concerned and not sure what to do. Before I jump into the issue, I’ll provide some background on my cycling history to help with the troubleshooting.
    1. I’m 48 years old 2. I started road cycling for the first time late summer, 2013 – roughly 3 years ago (yup, I’m a late starter  ) 3. For the first year I was only a recreational rider – road 2-3 times a week to get out of the gym, an occasional century or charity ride, etc 4. I didn’t start training with any discipline or structure until the winter of 2015 (with TrainerRoad), which is when I started using a power meter 5. Up until this point my focus was mainly endurance riding, centuries, and Time Trials (not road racing) 6. In 2015 I entered my first race, the Idaho State TT Championship; I placed 2nd in Men’s Cat 5; I also place 2nd in my age group in the bike leg of a triathlon; aside from this I was still doing mainly endurance riding, club rides, etc 7. Thinking that there wouldn’t be enough opportunities to race TT locally, I reluctantly made the decision to start training for the 2016 road race season 8. In January of 2016, I started a TrainingPeaks premium coaching engagement with a local pro Cat 1 racer 9. Up until this point, my training was not seasonal, and I in no way followed any format regarding Base, Build, Peak, or Specialty periods; I just trained non-stop week after week; 10. When I started with my coach in January 2016, my FTP was 272w and he said it was way too high to start the new season and training; I would peak too soon and burn out; so in December he had me take a week off from cycling so that we could start fresh with Base training and slowly build my fitness for my first race 11. After a few week of base training, I did another FPT test and it was still at 270w. And my TrainingPeaks mFTP is at 280w. It didn’t drop with the week off; but we continued with a slow and gradual base plan and slowly built it up with tempo, threshold, and VO2 max interval training 12. So far my training efforts have paid off. Here are some highlights:

2015 Emmett, Idaho Triathlon (40K bike leg) - 2nd Place in Age Group
2015 Idaho State Time Trial Championship (40K) - 2nd place, Cat 5
2016 Idaho State Road Race - 3rd Place, Men's Masters 45-49, Cat 4/5
2016 Lyle Pearson LP100 (80 miles) - 1st Place in two-man team 100 mile relay)
2016 Idaho State Time Trial Championship (30K) -- 4th Place, Men's Masters 45-49
2016 Utah State Time Trial Championship (30K) -- 3rd Place, Men's Masters 45-49
2016 Treasure Valley Grand Prix TT (15K) -- 9th out of 30 from Cat 1 down to Cat 5 (1st in Cat 5)


But here’s the problem. Around last March I started noticing some issue with fatigue resistance. This wasn’t fatigue on endurance rides, because I can pretty ride indefinitely in the endurance zone and even the low to mid-tempo zone. I noticed the fatigue resistance issue in mainly the Threshold and VO2max power zones. My FTP has been all over the place. Last June it was 260w. Two weeks ago, while in Oregon and climbing Mt. Hebo, I set a new one at 280w. And the odd thing is that my average HR on races is going up….wattages is going down, HR going up. My LTHR suggests that I am performing at threshold, and in fact, I “feel” in terms of perceived effort that I am pushing hard at threshold effort, but my power is 20w lower. For example, earlier in the year I could have maintained 260-270w average in a 40K TT. Now I am lucky if I can maintain 250w, and yet my LTHR is still what it was when I could maintain 270w.

One last update. This weekend, I had another TT, the last one listed above. It was a 15K TT. I did it in 22:10 (25mph ave) but I was only able to maintain 254w average for the duration….yet, my average HR was 171bpm. This is crazy. Normally, at 171bpm, I would be pushing about 300W. It’s like my heart is working harder but my legs are not delivering.

Any ideas on what is going on here? I have felt tired lately, sort of deep tired feeling inside, and sometimes shaky. It also takes a long time for my legs to recover. Am I on the crest of burn out? TrainingPeaks does not seem to indicate this. My TSB has been good, and never below -20 for quite a while.

I have 2 races left, and I’m going to keep at it and finish the season. Beginning September, my season ends (I don’t race Cross), and I plan is to take 2 weeks off, then start with a gradual base training program. Unlike last year, I’m going to see if I can get my FTP to calm down to about 245 or so, and then slowly build it up to 280w or higher.

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. For now I'm taking a week off the bike.
Kris

Posts

  • marykamaryka Posts: 746
    If you're actually feeling overreached/overtrained, you need to stop training and visit your doctor. Pushing through extreme fatigue is not wise. But only you know whether your 254w was a one-off or something more serious. How was the heat/conditions, was your powermeter reading properly? Was the time for the TT in line with what you'd expected or way slower?

    Have you not been able to hit the watts in training at all recently? If so, then time off the bike, or time off "training" is what you need to do. Fitness is built with rest as much as with work. You might find a couple of very easy weeks lets you recover to the point where you last races are ok.

    But either way, you're way too obsessed with FTP. It's a metric designed to inform your training, "descriptive" not "prescriptive". Go and read Coggan's book to inform yourself. It's very easy to get trapped into the myth of FTP but tbh it's only an objective metric that doesn't take into account subjective conditions. Goals that revolve around a power number are generally the tail wagging the dog. It should inform your training, not dominate it.

    I've never heard of a coach saying that an FTP was "too high" in the off-season. Without seeing exactly what training you did and the training load and where you started from, it's hard to know but it sounds like you did too much too quickly in your first season of structured training. So not surprising that mental/physical burnout may be the cause of your diminishing performance.

    And I wouldn't advocate deliberately dropping FTP to the tune of 15%+ in the off-season, that's madness. My FTP certainly doesn't fluctuate much more than 5-10% over the season naturally, and that happens as I take time off the bike or just ride easy for a few months. Maybe different in the USA where you can't do lots of volume in the winter? Personally I never even test FTP in the off-season, I only have a look at it once I'm ready to start structured training.

    What does your coach have to say about all this?
  • jgsijgsi Posts: 5,027
    Finish your season..... take a month off... 2 months club riding / coffee stop rides on the winter hack.
    This doesnt mean 1 ride a week.. far from it... ride and ride.... but start to enjoy a bike again without the stress of 'training' 'training' must do 'training'... if you ride with your mates over winter . they'll probably tell you to get a life anyway, if you start riding if it were a race.
    Then pick up structured training again....

    You are right to worry about the correlation between heart rate and output however... it affects us all from time to time.
    Sometimes I think amateur cyclists lose all sense of proportion when it comes to riding a bike.
    You pay your coach, so he has a vested interest, which sometimes is not in YOUR best of interest.
  • I certainly feel over-trained, and so I will follow that vs. anything else. A lot of this is by feel, but I am very much in tune with what I can do in training or in a race in light of power. All the details and power obsession aside, the gist is that I am fatiguing faster in training and races than earlier in the season -- less ability to maintain higher power for longer periods of time, while HR stays the same or higher. My heart is working just as hard or harder but results are declining. A really simple example is my 3x12min Threshold power intervals. I used to be able to power through these no problem. Now, by the time I get to the 3rd interval, I am lucky to be hitting higher tempo power levels. This has become a trend, starting mid season.

    On the beginning of season FTP thing...that is interesting. My coach, who is a pro cat 1 was fairly adamant about lowering FTP significantly in the January time frame. As I understand it, if you start too high, then you have no headroom to build and you'll peak too soon before your first A race.

    Power meter....Yes, I am suspicious of my TT bike's meter. I plan on doing some tests soon. I obtained some test protocol from Stages, to test my TT stages meter, in comparison to the Quarq on my roadbike, Stages on my backup roadbike, and Wahoo Kickr. Generally speaking, I am seeing the power issue only on my TT bike. I set a new FTP last month on my road bike on Mt. Hebo, but there is no way I could replicate that on my TT bike. It's either under-reporting by at least 20 watts, or there is something about the ergonomics of me on my TT bike that is reducing my power.
    maryka wrote:
    If you're actually feeling overreached/overtrained, you need to stop training and visit your doctor. Pushing through extreme fatigue is not wise. But only you know whether your 254w was a one-off or something more serious. How was the heat/conditions, was your powermeter reading properly? Was the time for the TT in line with what you'd expected or way slower?

    Have you not been able to hit the watts in training at all recently? If so, then time off the bike, or time off "training" is what you need to do. Fitness is built with rest as much as with work. You might find a couple of very easy weeks lets you recover to the point where you last races are ok.

    But either way, you're way too obsessed with FTP. It's a metric designed to inform your training, "descriptive" not "prescriptive". Go and read Coggan's book to inform yourself. It's very easy to get trapped into the myth of FTP but tbh it's only an objective metric that doesn't take into account subjective conditions. Goals that revolve around a power number are generally the tail wagging the dog. It should inform your training, not dominate it.

    I've never heard of a coach saying that an FTP was "too high" in the off-season. Without seeing exactly what training you did and the training load and where you started from, it's hard to know but it sounds like you did too much too quickly in your first season of structured training. So not surprising that mental/physical burnout may be the cause of your diminishing performance.

    And I wouldn't advocate deliberately dropping FTP to the tune of 15%+ in the off-season, that's madness. My FTP certainly doesn't fluctuate much more than 5-10% over the season naturally, and that happens as I take time off the bike or just ride easy for a few months. Maybe different in the USA where you can't do lots of volume in the winter? Personally I never even test FTP in the off-season, I only have a look at it once I'm ready to start structured training.

    What does your coach have to say about all this?
  • kajjalkajjal Posts: 3,380
    One thing top pros do is know when not to train and are able to do less intensive rides in a controlled fashion.

    For normal riders this is very hard to do as other things distract you and cycling can be something you really enjoy so you can easily overtrain leading to repeated colds, strains, fatigue etc. I have been there and done it several times, going from fast and fit to over reaching myself and either being ill or suffering from fatigue of sorts. I learnt to listen to my body.
  • cyclecliniccycleclinic Posts: 6,865
    rest is the answer. I have halved my training load since winter/spring and I am riding quicker than ever. Now all my training comes from racing (I am racing 2-3 times a week). the other days I roll to work and back (15 miles total) at a sensible pace. I do a session or so if a race gets cancelled. I keep on improving. So rest and next time do the volume over autumn/winter and begin interval training in spriing and drop the load coming into summer when you are racing.
    http://www.thecycleclinic.co.uk -wheel building and other stuff.
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