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Recovery vs sustainable intensity

MishMash95MishMash95 Posts: 104
Hey, new here but have an issue regarding how best to optimise training.

I recently designed a new training plan, aiming for 10-12 hours a week. I wanted to get some structure in and for the first two weeks, it was going well, however I began to build up fatigue and going into week 3 could not complete the first threshold training session that I had set.

For a bit of info, I aimed to ride 4 to 5 days a week:
Monday - Rest
Tuesday - Threshold intervals (3x15, 2x20, or some other high intensity interval workout)
Wednesday - Club ride, 2-3 hours at a tempo pace (mid Z3)
Thursday - Rest/easy spin (if not racing on saturday, another 2hr tempo ride)
Friday - Rest
Saturday - Race
Sunday - Club ride, 3 hours (low Z3)

I felt good at the start and was able to complete everything well, however going into week 3, I had built up a fair bit of fatigue. The sort of volume was nothing new, but I had kicked up the intensity in an effort to make every ride more meaningful, but now feel like i'm not getting the most out of the workouts.

Part of the issue is that I seem to take a while to recover back up to feeling good. I see people on here with super packed training schedules doing 6-days a week and just have no idea how people are ever fresh enough to consistently bosh out high intensity. I feel like i follow a reasonable recovery routine: Recovery drink straight when getting back, followed by stretches and cooldown exercises to loosen up.
I will say that I am quite consistent with being able to ride at tempo, however when it comes to threshold and hard VO2max sessions, I only seem to manage them for a bit.

My understanding is that training stress stimulates your body to improve at the thing you are stressing, however i'm torn on how best to improve, but have a few potential thoughts, and wanted to know if anyone could extend on this:

1) Dial down intensity of threshold sessions to keep volume up but be able to complete an easier workout. My thinking here is that even if the intensity is not as high, I could potentially train my body to better deal with subsequent days of training?
2) Remove one of the weekly rides. The winter racing series ends soon, so that could be a logical one to throw out, as that acts as a high intensity session.

I'm struggling to figure out what yields the best improvement over time. I'm somewhat hesitant to reduce volume too much, as for most of october/november, I had a lower volume, only riding 2-3 times a week and didn't really see any significant improvement.

Is speed of recovery something that just improves with time? I see a lot of club riders getting in quality intervals whilst also maintaining a relatively high volume and just don't quite see how they manage it. I'm also quite confident that my FTP is dialed in correctly (270w) (if not is set a little low) as when racing fresh, whilst I have not ridden at my exact FTP, I recently rode at 98% (264w avg) for 55 minutes in a race and whilst i was tired, I felt that I could have gone harder in places if I really dug deep.
I guess my performance just ends up being quite inconsistent, from me feeling really strong when fresh, but feeling quite sluggish when fatigued, even after day of rest. It can feel like my practical performance drops by 25-30w on those days, and takes a good 3-4 days to fully recharge.

Any suggestions/tips greatly appreciated :)!

Posts

  • Use Stravistix's "Multisport fitness trend," Premium Strava's "fitness and freshness" or https://cricklesorg.wordpress.com/ (or something similar) to gauge your fitness/fatigue/form.

    The above have at least two differing scales, over-training is considered to be a "form" of -30 or more negative in Stravistix, while this is -10 for Strava (still not sure about cricklesorg).

    Adjust the intensity so form does not get too negative, or perhaps alter your program a little, adding an extra rest day every two weeks or so.
    ================
    2020 Voodoo Marasa
    2017 Cube Attain GTC Pro Disc 2016
    2016 Voodoo Wazoo
  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 11,258
    Bit more context needed. How long have you been riding and what volume/intensity of riding were you doing before you started this plan.

    Superficially, the plan does not seem unreasonable - but if you've come at it from a low base, then you might be doing too much too soon..
  • Do you have proper 'rest weeks' planned into your schedule? (Not stopping riding but really reducing the intensity and distance).

    For someone relatively new to structured training (myself also) I was advised 3 to 4 weeks 'on' followed by 1 week 'off' - you would therefore expect to be carrying a decent amount of fatigue by the end of week 3, but should really see the improvements after the rest week.
  • RichjRichj Posts: 240
    As others have said you probably need to give a few more details in terms of what you have been doing prior to this plan.

    Looking at it, seems a lot of tempo when you are also racing and doing threshold sessions, but I guess the club run and mid week ride aren't all at tempo and entire time.

    Personally (but someone will be along soon to say I do it wrong) I do two threshold sessions, 1 tempo then a load of zone 1 & 2 riding, doing between 8-12 hrs a week. I have ridden for years and know how I respond to training and have always enjoyed and coped better getting in the low intensity rides.

    If you are struggling, but looking to push up your FTP I personally would drop one of the long tempos to an easier ride and see how that goes......or.....get a coach :)
  • Saturday = Race. What type of race is this? If you have destroyed yourself then gone out and ridden 3 hours the day after that might be putting you in a bit of a hole. I'd imagine that club ride still involved some big efforts?

    Do you use Training Peaks? Have a go at the free trial and see how your sessions impact the numbers (CTL, Fatigue, TSB etc) and if that correlates to how you are feeling. Also, don't rule out underlying illness.
  • Had similar issues myself recently (at the age of 55 it has to be said!). Found Joe Friel's blog to be a good source of advice, particularly:

    http://www.joefrielsblog.com/2017/01/ho ... olume.html
    http://www.joefrielsblog.com/2017/04/tr ... ion-1.html
    http://www.joefrielsblog.com/2017/04/tr ... ation.html

    To summarise: high intensity is more important than volume. Joe suggests that you do as much volume as possible 'so long as it doesn't interfere with your readiness to do high-intensity workouts'. 'If necessary cut back on long duration or weekly volume and allow more recovery between sessions.'

    Sounds to me like you're maybe overdoing it and should listen to what your body is telling you. I found it hard to cut a session out from my training week but I did and I feel better for it.

    There's a lot of other good stuff on the blog on this subject - would recommend.
  • Tom DeanTom Dean Posts: 1,723
    3) dial down intensity of tempo sessions! If you want to do 10-12 hrs/week some of it will probably have to be below level 3
  • Thanks for all the replies guys, really appreciate the feedback, wasn't expecting it so quickly! Will try and add detail through the replies:

    @NitrousOxide I do have strava premium, and my form is current sitting at around -16, though it did get as low as -20, so I guess thats a reasonable indicator. The one odd thing is that it does seem to give quite a high training load for longer rides that aren't necessarily that intense. But yeah, I have previously used the graph to track fitness, though i guess it is logical that form represents fatigue well. I'll re-adjust based on that and dial it back a bit

    @Imposter I've been cycling for around 9 months. I Got my first road bike in mid-march 2017, and started putting a reasonable number of hours in around May. Started with 4-5 hours a week, and increased that up to around 8-12 hours a week over summer, generally riding as I felt without much structure. Come October through to december, I probably averaged 6-7 hours due to weather and other commitments, though started doing a few intermittent intense workouts including one or so Zwift races a week.
    Early jan I tried to increase intensity slowly, starting with 8 hours, and moving up to where I am now at 10-12. I figured this was a slow enough increase, but perhaps it should be more gradual. Thanks for the comment

    @DHMR2018 Currently I had planned out a 6 week block (I am currently in the 4th week), but yeah, and had planned on that 6th week being a rest week with an FTP re-test after recouperating. Though yeah, I think after having this, given that it was my 3rd week where I really started to suffer, and this week where I feel more unproductive, i'll replan to do 3 weeks hard, 1 week easy :)

    @Richj Yeah, will give this a try too, I did a bit too much reading and got put off the idea of doing Z1/Z2 rides as many people seem to claim that they produce "junk miles", but I guess its a good balance between active recovery and getting back-to-back days on the bike. I guess trying to go too hard every session can compromise the quality of others!

    @Supermurph09 The race is a local 40-45 minute Crit (UK 4th Category), generally, the intensity is high, but not devastating, it is quite a technical circuit with lots of bursts out of hairpins, so tends to act quite like a strength interval session. I often average around 250w (~255-265w NP) which is still below threshold. I do know that the timing of the sunday club ride isn't ideal, generally there are multiple groups that go out, so can choose intensity based on how I feel. I tend to opt for a more sociable endurance pace, but there is some intensity for about 20% of the ride when either pulling or going up hills.
    I don't have training peaks, but do have Strava Premium which provides training load + Fatigue graph. My weekly CTL according to strava is around 500 atm. Not too sure what an ideal target CTL is however, couldn't find too much reading on that!

    @Anorak_boy I'll have a detailed read of these, looks like some good food for though. One query I did have however is that my general perception is that naturally, as intensity goes down for a given workout, time needs to increase. For example, if you wanted to train at Z3, only doing so for 30 minutes wouldn't necessarily achieve much? I only ask because i'd rate a hard 2 hour Sweetspot interval session about as equally difficult as a 2x20 (perhaps mentally easier, but in terms of physical exertion), but am always unsure as to which would be more beneficial. The sweetspot yields a higher Training load, but if the same can be achieved in less time, then yeah, I would be interested in shortening the session.
    The only exception being that I find the middling intensity rides to be the most fun, i.e. the 2-3 hour mid-tempo rides, but I'm happy to alter that if they aren't all that useful vs shorter threshold workouts.

    @Tom Dean Yeah, this is seemingly where I need to go. Currently, I don't tend to ride longer than 3hrs in one go (mainly due to time constraints), but figured it would be worth maximising. Currently, riding at ~210-220w for 3 hours doesn't feel super taxing at the time which is why I guess I ride at that intensity, however it probably is impacting my recovery :S!

    Once again, thanks for all the feedback, it appears the general consensus is to dial down tempo rides and adjust the recovery week, so i'm going to be adjusting my plan as follows:
    - Altering it to 3 weeks hard, 1 week easy (as opposed to the original plan which was 5 weeks on, 1 week off)
    - I'll have a read of those articles linked
    - Winter racing series ends soon, so will likely alter the plan to instead be something like this:
    Monday - rest
    Tuesday - Threshold
    Wednesday - Club run (Tempo)
    Thursday - Rest
    Friday - Interval session of sorts (Need to decide)
    Saturday - Rest
    Sunday - Club run (tempo)

    This split rest should hopefully mean less fatigue accumulates.

    Though it is encouraging to hear that people often experience gains after the rest week, as riding when fatigued does feel like i'm either not improving or getting worse, but it makes sense that allowing a reset to freshness would make you feel stronger!
  • RichjRichj Posts: 240
    You are still relatively new to the sport so increasing the intensity and volume will take a while to adapt to, listen to your body and see how you feel for each session and change your plan accordingly. Knowing you have an easy week coming up can mentally make getting through the tough week easier.

    I personally find Z1/2 work helps me recover and I often feel better doing these sessions than taking a rest day. I know people often refer to "junk miles" but I have always had the best my form when I have ridden a lot, rather than done a lot of intervals.
  • fenixfenix Posts: 5,437
    If you've been riding for just 9 months you can't compare your training to people that may have decades of cycling in their legs.

    Repeating the same plan week after week will break you. You need easier weeks to recover.
  • joe2008joe2008 Posts: 1,531
    MishMash95 wrote:
    Thanks for all the replies guys, really appreciate the feedback, wasn't expecting it so quickly! Will try and add detail through the replies:

    @NitrousOxide I do have strava premium, and my form is current sitting at around -16, though it did get as low as -20, so I guess thats a reasonable indicator. The one odd thing is that it does seem to give quite a high training load for longer rides that aren't necessarily that intense. But yeah, I have previously used the graph to track fitness, though i guess it is logical that form represents fatigue well. I'll re-adjust based on that and dial it back a bit

    @Imposter I've been cycling for around 9 months. I Got my first road bike in mid-march 2017, and started putting a reasonable number of hours in around May. Started with 4-5 hours a week, and increased that up to around 8-12 hours a week over summer, generally riding as I felt without much structure. Come October through to december, I probably averaged 6-7 hours due to weather and other commitments, though started doing a few intermittent intense workouts including one or so Zwift races a week.
    Early jan I tried to increase intensity slowly, starting with 8 hours, and moving up to where I am now at 10-12. I figured this was a slow enough increase, but perhaps it should be more gradual. Thanks for the comment

    @DHMR2018 Currently I had planned out a 6 week block (I am currently in the 4th week), but yeah, and had planned on that 6th week being a rest week with an FTP re-test after recouperating. Though yeah, I think after having this, given that it was my 3rd week where I really started to suffer, and this week where I feel more unproductive, i'll replan to do 3 weeks hard, 1 week easy :)

    @Richj Yeah, will give this a try too, I did a bit too much reading and got put off the idea of doing Z1/Z2 rides as many people seem to claim that they produce "junk miles", but I guess its a good balance between active recovery and getting back-to-back days on the bike. I guess trying to go too hard every session can compromise the quality of others!

    @Supermurph09 The race is a local 40-45 minute Crit (UK 4th Category), generally, the intensity is high, but not devastating, it is quite a technical circuit with lots of bursts out of hairpins, so tends to act quite like a strength interval session. I often average around 250w (~255-265w NP) which is still below threshold. I do know that the timing of the sunday club ride isn't ideal, generally there are multiple groups that go out, so can choose intensity based on how I feel. I tend to opt for a more sociable endurance pace, but there is some intensity for about 20% of the ride when either pulling or going up hills.
    I don't have training peaks, but do have Strava Premium which provides training load + Fatigue graph. My weekly CTL according to strava is around 500 atm. Not too sure what an ideal target CTL is however, couldn't find too much reading on that!

    @Anorak_boy I'll have a detailed read of these, looks like some good food for though. One query I did have however is that my general perception is that naturally, as intensity goes down for a given workout, time needs to increase. For example, if you wanted to train at Z3, only doing so for 30 minutes wouldn't necessarily achieve much? I only ask because i'd rate a hard 2 hour Sweetspot interval session about as equally difficult as a 2x20 (perhaps mentally easier, but in terms of physical exertion), but am always unsure as to which would be more beneficial. The sweetspot yields a higher Training load, but if the same can be achieved in less time, then yeah, I would be interested in shortening the session.
    The only exception being that I find the middling intensity rides to be the most fun, i.e. the 2-3 hour mid-tempo rides, but I'm happy to alter that if they aren't all that useful vs shorter threshold workouts.

    @Tom Dean Yeah, this is seemingly where I need to go. Currently, I don't tend to ride longer than 3hrs in one go (mainly due to time constraints), but figured it would be worth maximising. Currently, riding at ~210-220w for 3 hours doesn't feel super taxing at the time which is why I guess I ride at that intensity, however it probably is impacting my recovery :S!

    Once again, thanks for all the feedback, it appears the general consensus is to dial down tempo rides and adjust the recovery week, so i'm going to be adjusting my plan as follows:
    - Altering it to 3 weeks hard, 1 week easy (as opposed to the original plan which was 5 weeks on, 1 week off)
    - I'll have a read of those articles linked
    - Winter racing series ends soon, so will likely alter the plan to instead be something like this:
    Monday - rest
    Tuesday - Threshold
    Wednesday - Club run (Tempo)
    Thursday - Rest
    Friday - Interval session of sorts (Need to decide)
    Saturday - Rest
    Sunday - Club run (tempo)

    This split rest should hopefully mean less fatigue accumulates.

    Though it is encouraging to hear that people often experience gains after the rest week, as riding when fatigued does feel like i'm either not improving or getting worse, but it makes sense that allowing a reset to freshness would make you feel stronger!

    So no zone 1/2 rides.

    Too much tempo and not enough endurance riding going on.

    Tempo is often seen as the junk miles you refer too.
  • Join the slower group for your club rides and maybe give Dave Brailsford a call at Team Sky, they do recovery quite well
    I'm sorry you don't believe in miracles
  • cyclecliniccycleclinic Posts: 6,865
    the OP just needs more time on the bike. It comes with years on the bike. Your ability to recover quickly will improve. Keep up the miles and as the years go by you will recover more quickly. you have to keep it up. I have seen big changes in my ability to recover and ability to sustain pace over many hours by doing an average of 230 miles a week for the past 3 or three years, that has changed things for me but the first year was hard. It has got easier now.
    http://www.thecycleclinic.co.uk -wheel building and other stuff.
  • N0bodyOfTheGoatN0bodyOfTheGoat Posts: 4,502
    Just a heads up revival of this thread, rather than starting a fresh one, to inform anyone interested that the latest Stravistix update today allows manual adjustment of fitness and fatigue in its Fitness Trend.

    Could be quite handy, as just like the Strava fitness trend, I believe they both fail to include rides where you may have ridden without HRM and/or power data (unlike Crickles https://cricklesorg.wordpress.com/ which also gives other useful info not covered by the other two)
    ================
    2020 Voodoo Marasa
    2017 Cube Attain GTC Pro Disc 2016
    2016 Voodoo Wazoo
  • Just a heads up revival of this thread, rather than starting a fresh one, to inform anyone interested that the latest Stravistix update today allows manual adjustment of fitness and fatigue in its Fitness Trend.

    Could be quite handy, as just like the Strava fitness trend, I believe they both fail to include rides where you may have ridden without HRM and/or power data (unlike Crickles https://cricklesorg.wordpress.com/ which also gives other useful info not covered by the other two)

    Can't you just use Golden Cheetah?
    I'm sorry you don't believe in miracles
  • N0bodyOfTheGoatN0bodyOfTheGoat Posts: 4,502
    Just a heads up revival of this thread, rather than starting a fresh one, to inform anyone interested that the latest Stravistix update today allows manual adjustment of fitness and fatigue in its Fitness Trend.

    Could be quite handy, as just like the Strava fitness trend, I believe they both fail to include rides where you may have ridden without HRM and/or power data (unlike Crickles https://cricklesorg.wordpress.com/ which also gives other useful info not covered by the other two)

    Can't you just use Golden Cheetah?

    Heard of, but yet to try.
    ================
    2020 Voodoo Marasa
    2017 Cube Attain GTC Pro Disc 2016
    2016 Voodoo Wazoo
  • Just a heads up revival of this thread, rather than starting a fresh one, to inform anyone interested that the latest Stravistix update today allows manual adjustment of fitness and fatigue in its Fitness Trend.

    Could be quite handy, as just like the Strava fitness trend, I believe they both fail to include rides where you may have ridden without HRM and/or power data (unlike Crickles https://cricklesorg.wordpress.com/ which also gives other useful info not covered by the other two)

    Can't you just use Golden Cheetah?

    Heard of, but yet to try.

    Much more accurate than Strava finger in the air estimates. I'll have another look at Stravastix
    I'm sorry you don't believe in miracles
  • pastryboypastryboy Posts: 1,385
    A lot of people get caught up with all the zones and terms like tempo and threshold and try and do a bit of everything.

    Bulk of your work should be <70% max heart rate - that's where you build a body that's efficient at riding and burning fat without stressing it too much.

    Your forays into power zones 3 and above should be for a reason and within a few select workouts.

    My best top end power numbers and race results came when I was doing only doing 2 hard sessions of about 20 minutes each per week. On top of that was just lots of commuting miles keeping my heart rate in check. My worst performances were when I did too much with tempo sessions and whatnot all over the place - simply had no top end.
  • MishMash95MishMash95 Posts: 104
    pastryboy wrote:
    A lot of people get caught up with all the zones and terms like tempo and threshold and try and do a bit of everything.

    Bulk of your work should be <70% max heart rate - that's where you build a body that's efficient at riding and burning fat without stressing it too much.

    Your forays into power zones 3 and above should be for a reason and within a few select workouts.

    My best top end power numbers and race results came when I was doing only doing 2 hard sessions of about 20 minutes each per week. On top of that was just lots of commuting miles keeping my heart rate in check. My worst performances were when I did too much with tempo sessions and whatnot all over the place - simply had no top end.

    Interesting information, I definitely have been dialling down the overall intensity and focusing it into a few sessions, but will admit that I do enjoy the tempo rides the most (Standard club ride pace generally), or a nice fast hour long, however am trying to now count those as one of the "hard" rides given they often consist of tempo riding with a few high effort hills.

    With regard to increasing overall volume (i'm aiming for around 10-12 hours a week), what would you recommend as far as duration of endurance rides? Is 2 hours enough for an endurance ride to create a good positive adaption? (assuming a schedule along the lines of hard-endurance-endurance-rest-hard-endurance-rest).
    Similarly, because this would generally only yield me around 9 hours a week, as I haven't been doing many rides longer than 2hrs 30 mins and the hard workouts do tend to be short, is it beneficial to pad-out the harder workouts with an extra hour of endurance riding after? Or will that just hinder gains?

    Or if I really want to benefit, will I be needing to do longer 4+ hour rides atleast once a week?

    Thanks for the comments, appreciate all the feedback :) It does help provide a bit of direction and atleast a good insight into what things work for some people, as i'm definitely just at the point now where i'm flexible in trying out different structures for a few weeks at a time.
  • philbar72philbar72 Posts: 2,228
    +1 for golden cheetah, but needs decent inputs (i.e. heart rate and power).... to help build the picture up. its a superb tool. far better than strava.
  • imafatmanimafatman Posts: 351
    Are you sleeping and eating enough?

    My personal trainer recommends being in bed by 10am, I always thought it was crazy talk but when I was putting in 4 days at the gym and 10 hours a week riding it was that change which made the big difference to recovery.

    I also found that the way I physically felt was often not representative of my performance. E.g. feeling fatigued and tired but still able to put out good wattage. On those days it's a psychological battle not a physical one.
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