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3 weeks off the bike, fitness loss woes

MishMash95MishMash95 Posts: 104
Hi, I recently unintentionally had 3 weeks off the bikr, due to a combination of 1 week travel and subsequently getting ill (unrelated mental issues) .
While I know fitness declines rapidly, I am rather disappointed to find that the initial drop has been quite significant.

Was on the cusp of a 290w FTP having the form or my life and have now found that over the past few rides back this week, ive been really struggling, with 250w for 25 min sending my Hr over 200 bpm (previously 170 for sustained effort over 2hrs). Equally finding that no matter how easy i go, my hr wont drop and stay in z2, resulting in me feeling aerobically gassed even on short rides, which is new for me. The sensation of still feeling out of breath after going easy and the heart feeling fatigued.

Wasnt expecting such a significant drop off over a short time, but I guess my question is, for those who have had similar short breaks, is that drop off expected, and how fast does fitness come back? Equally, what would be the best type of training to get fitness back quickly, without accidentally overtraining?

One saving grace is that i set new PBs for 5s and 1 minute power due to my muscles feeling super fresh. (1180w 5s, 730w ~ 11.2w/kg for a minute which I'm blown away with, though not really repeatable if legs have even a bit of fatigue)

Posts

  • OnTheRopesOnTheRopes Posts: 460
    hmmm, I'm not that regular on here but you do sound like a well known Troll to me and the content of your post reads BS tbh
  • You've been off the bike, yet you expect to maintain your fitness?
    I agree with the previous poster^^^
  • MishMash95MishMash95 Posts: 104
    A well known troll? On what basis? I'll take socially inept, but having some mental issues atm (related to the time off the bike) and for some reason thought it would be a good idea to try and find some reassurance online. I generally find this to be a good place for that kind of thing, because you come on here and realise people are human, not superhuman athlete's, but real people who go through ups and downs.. This is all new to me and its quite a shitty feeling to lose so much progress so fast (as I didn't expect that much drop off in only 3 weeks), I merely wanted to hear from those more experienced than myself what the best path forward is, or you know, hear someone elses story.

    But w/e, if people want to think i'm a troll, then feel free to flag or delete this post.
  • marykamaryka Posts: 748
    Haven't been following your progress, but I take your statement "having the form of my life" to mean you had a lot more than 3 weeks on the bike before your 3 weeks off... some consistent months at least?

    So with that in mind, don't fret. Yes if you're not training, you're detraining, but 3 weeks is nothing in the grand scheme of things. At worst, it set you back 3-6 weeks in progress, at best it let your body recover a bit and have a break to regain some freshness and be ready for your next months' of training load.

    If you had an important race this week, yeah that would be rather censored . But otherwise just accept you had necessary time off, gather up your motivation and get back to it WITHOUT trying to stuff in extra miles to make up for what you've missed. Look forward now, not back.

    The body doesn't detrain that fast really. Stuff like blood volume will drop over a few weeks (hence the raised HR to shuttle around the same required oxygen in less blood) but that will come back pretty quickly too. You should find that within a couple of weeks of normal service resumed, your power numbers will be back near where they were.
  • From starting winter turbo training in November, I raised my estimated FTP (using 95% of 20min effort) from ~275W to ~297W in early Jan. I then had ~4 weeks of lurgy where I had to stop interval training at and beyond that figure and my FTP had dropped to ~279W by 21st Feb. But surprisingly, after jumping back of the interval bandwagon again, I then set a new PB of ~298W in early March. Caught another lurgy doing the rounds in mid March, not been able to interval train anything like around 300W+ since, expecting to have lost ~10% again.
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  • cougiecougie Posts: 22,512
    3 weeks off isn't a big thing. Fitness normally holds for 2 weeks before dropping - I'm sure you'll get the fitness back within a couple of weeks. Just don't expect miracles in the first rides back. Ease yourself into it.
  • From starting winter turbo training in November, I raised my estimated FTP (using 95% of 20min effort) from ~275W to ~297W in early Jan. I then had ~4 weeks of lurgy where I had to stop interval training at and beyond that figure and my FTP had dropped to ~279W by 21st Feb. But surprisingly, after jumping back of the interval bandwagon again, I then set a new PB of ~298W in early March. Caught another lurgy doing the rounds in mid March, not been able to interval train anything like around 300W+ since, expecting to have lost ~10% again.

    Graeme Obree spends a chapter in his book talking about not getting ill.
    I'm sorry you don't believe in miracles
  • ^^^^ what maryka says
    I'm sorry you don't believe in miracles
  • FWIW, fitness loss occurs rapidly, and starts almost straight away. The better trained you are the faster you lose fitness (but might gain it back quicker).

    Review papers by Mujika and Padilla look at short-term training losses (up to 4 weeks) and long-term training losses (>4 weeks) and both cardiorespiratory and muscular effects. e.g. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10966148

    Decreases in blood plasma volume start occurring within 24 hrs of cessation of exercise, which has a negative impact on VO2max, while other short-term losses change substrate utilisation from a mix of fuels to a greater reliance on CHO useage. one reason riders doing a GT train on their rest day is to maintain plasma volume.

    As you lose aerobic fitness, it's also likely (as you've seen) that 'anaerobic' power and NM power is increased.

    Recovery from time off is dependent upon a variety of factors, including, but not limited to how much fitness you've lost, absolute fitness levels, motivation, etc. In my experience, there's quite a large range that people deal with (as in how long it takes to come back)

    All that said, hope you're back training soon. Your fitness coming back the 2nd time is generally quicker than the first time you did it.
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  • dm1756dm1756 Posts: 1
    Your fitness coming back the 2nd time is generally quicker than the first time you did it./quote]

    Does this also apply after a much longer period off the bike?
    Reached my peak fitness in September last year after heavy training for an extended period - have only got back on the bike properly over the last month, so almost 6 months with only the occasional ride. Should I expect a similar time period to get back to a the same level as last time or would you expect it to be quicker?
    Thanks
  • MishMash95MishMash95 Posts: 104
    Thanks for the comments, really appreciate it :) The blood volume stuff makes a lot of sense honestly and have started to feel a bit of power come back since, which i'm feeling a lot better about. Long-haul endurance is still a bit iffy, but had a cracker of a ride a few days ago, hitting some good numbers for 2 hours, though since then, have been feeling more depleted.

    My HR is still running high, but has come down a lot now (have been back on the bike for around 2.5 weeks now). Longer duration endurance and recovery between sessions is now the thing that appears to be the main limiting factor vs before (luckily this is stopping me from over-doing it upon return). My old Z2 power is still yielding a higher HR that is well into the tempo zone, but I imagine this will keep on coming down, as its already down around 10-15 bpm from 2 weeks ago.

    It seems the biggest sufferer is the VO2max zone power, however, I used to find that this fluctuated a lot even before, with me being very responsive to training, but unable to maintain peak VO2max power for very long.

    Hoping another 3-4 weeks should get me close to where I was, as my "current" fitness is more in line with where I was 14 months ago, and I had only really started feeling really good (and seeing good progression) since the end of 2018.
  • willhubwillhub Posts: 821
    OnTheRopes wrote:
    hmmm, I'm not that regular on here but you do sound like a well known Troll to me and the content of your post reads BS tbh
    This is why I stopped posting on this forum, are people like this poster "on the ropes" still on here? Really shouldn't be allowed.

    It's inevitable you'll loose performance with any time off the bike, I've been "off" the bike a little longer and I've lost around 100W FTP, it's soul destroying, I've also gained 2 stone.
  • MatthewfalleMatthewfalle Posts: 17,380
    we've done nothing for two weeks due to a back so broken that it would have killed a club rider if it had happened to them.

    went out on the bike for the first time two days ago: legs gone
    just got out of the gym: strength gone

    ok, 3 weeks training and it will all be back but yup, get a few bad weeks and it falls off faster than ypu gain it.

    #weakasaclubbie
    #we'llbeback
    #stillincrediblyhandsome
    Postby team47b » Sun Jun 28, 2015 11:53 am

    De Sisti wrote:
    This is one of the silliest threads I've come across. :lol:

    Recognition at last Matthew, well done!, a justified honour :D
    smithy21 wrote:

    He's right you know.
  • cyclecliniccycleclinic Posts: 6,865
    I am beinging to think power meter are an evil. Who cares if one day your power is down. I peak at some point in the summer and am flying. The rest of the year my performance is varible (read slow). I really dont give a censored and neither should the OP. Caring about how much power you are producing means your riding for the wrong reasons. I would take your power meters off and sell them. they are there to monitor fitness/fatigue can can inform not worry about your fitness. If they cause you worry or an stress about form then frankly get rid of them.
    I have three PM's and while I get data from them I also could not give a monkeys what the numbers say. If power is down so what, it will come back and probably leave me again before I can make use of it.
    http://www.thecycleclinic.co.uk -wheel building and other stuff.
  • MatthewfalleMatthewfalle Posts: 17,380
    I am beinging to think power meter are an evil. Who cares if one day your power is down. I peak at some point in the summer and am flying. The rest of the year my performance is varible (read slow). I really dont give a censored and neither should the OP. Caring about how much power you are producing means your riding for the wrong reasons. I would take your power meters off and sell them. they are there to monitor fitness/fatigue can can inform not worry about your fitness. If they cause you worry or an stress about form then frankly get rid of them.
    I have three PM's and while I get data from them I also could not give a monkeys what the numbers say. If power is down so what, it will come back and probably leave me again before I can make use of it.

    this. very good point very well presented.
    Postby team47b » Sun Jun 28, 2015 11:53 am

    De Sisti wrote:
    This is one of the silliest threads I've come across. :lol:

    Recognition at last Matthew, well done!, a justified honour :D
    smithy21 wrote:

    He's right you know.
  • Caring about how much power you are producing means your riding for the wrong reasons.
    In your opinion.

    I agree some may at times demonstrate counterproductive psychological responses to such data. However that's rarely an issue with the device providing the data. Take away the power meter and the same psychological issues will arise be it over speed, or HR or a Strava segment, or something else will replace power number as the focal point for such concerns.

    That said, different things motivate different people. If caring about power numbers keeps someone interested and riding a bicycle when otherwise they may not, then that's a win AFAIC. If such things were not motivating, then Strava wouldn't be so popular.

    Even though I am no longer racing I do find power data of interest and it helps to keep me motivated. Amazingly, I can also enjoy the other aspects of riding a bicycle too. These things are not mutually exclusive. Presenting them as a binary scenario is creating a false dichotomy.
  • ProssPross Posts: 31,634
    Caring about how much power you are producing means your riding for the wrong reasons.
    In your opinion.

    I agree some may at times demonstrate counterproductive psychological responses to such data. However that's rarely an issue with the device providing the data. Take away the power meter and the same psychological issues will arise be it over speed, or HR or a Strava segment, or something else will replace power number as the focal point for such concerns.

    That said, different things motivate different people. If caring about power numbers keeps someone interested and riding a bicycle when otherwise they may not, then that's a win AFAIC. If such things were not motivating, then Strava wouldn't be so popular.

    Even though I am no longer racing I do find power data of interest and it helps to keep me motivated. Amazingly, I can also enjoy the other aspects of riding a bicycle too. These things are not mutually exclusive. Presenting them as a binary scenario is creating a false dichotomy.

    Agreed but I do think a lot riders are becoming fixated on power. There seem to be regular threads of 'I'm thinking of starting racing and my power is 'x' watts (or w/kg). Is this enough?'. To sound like some sort of old git (guilty as charged!) people used to get a bit of group riding experience under their belts then turn up and try a race, in most cases they'd get dropped but keep coming back until they didn't. Whilst that's not the case in this thread it is still someone fretting about what the numbers are saying. Sometimes the best solution is to just get out and ride, I've certainly had dips in form in the past where I felt like giving it all up and then just went out and enjoyed a social ride with a few mates that put me back in the right frame of mind.
  • Pross wrote:
    Agreed but I do think a lot riders are becoming fixated on power. There seem to be regular threads of 'I'm thinking of starting racing and my power is 'x' watts (or w/kg). Is this enough?'.

    Yes, but they also say "I tend to ride at x mph by myself. Is that enough?"

    IOW the question hasn't really changed for those people, they've simply substituted a different metric, when as we know the best way to find out is to try, learn and try again.
  • MishMash95MishMash95 Posts: 104
    I am beinging to think power meter are an evil. Who cares if one day your power is down. I peak at some point in the summer and am flying. The rest of the year my performance is varible (read slow). I really dont give a censored and neither should the OP. Caring about how much power you are producing means your riding for the wrong reasons..

    Well, putting power aside, it is a metric for measuring progress, but equally, I find that power does affect my enjoyment of the sport. I was loving how I was feeling with a bit of form (not just FTP power, but every aspect of fitness), being able to go on back to back long rides and still have some juice. Having the option of being able to take steep climbs without needing to go into a world of hurt just to get over the thing.
    I felt I was at the cusp of really being able to enjoy the sport in a whole new way, because I was able to enjoy every aspect of it, without needing to compromise as much as I had before. (i.e. being able to ride either long or hard both days of the weekend, feeling better on subsequent rides).

    To address "riding for the wrong reasons", I think that is entirely a personal/subjective take. I ride for a lot of reasons. The main ones being to challenge myself, stay fit and de-stress. The social side of cycling, and the exploration/freedom side are interesting to me, but they aren't my main goto's. If they were, I probably wouldn't ride as rigorously as I do, but just go on the odd ride every now and then.

    I agree the number itself doesn't matter, however what that number represents does to me. (The post was more about finding a strategy for dealing with fitness loss, I could have avoided mentioning numbers, but the reason everyone talks about power is because its easy to quantify).
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