Repeatedly hitting walls

With only several weeks in between a vacation and my son’s wedding I decided to try out one of the new 4-week FTP blocks in an attempt to improve core power output and endurance. Along the way I have found a very repeatable pattern going on and have been trying to figure out what it means and what I should do about it:

On most of the sustained output sessions done at 100% FTP settings from a recent 4DP I am hitting a very consistent wall just over half way through the session. I am able to hold on to both power and cadence targets up until that point but then I just start pedaling squares. And it is only a couple of minutes before the only way I can make progress is to drop the targets and complete the session at the lower rate.

I would love to know if I am doing something wrong or if this is just a sign of good old fashioned suffering and I should be proud of making it over half way through the session before dying.

There are a couple things I have noticed:

  1. My HR tends to consistently rise to the point that by the time I am approaching that magical half way point even the little recovery I get rarely drops me below the top end of my zone 4. When I lower the difficulty by 10% I often bring my HR back in line with the targets presented and can finish the session at the lowered rate and within the HR targets (even if my legs are pretty much toast by then).
  2. There may be some drift in my smart trainer (Saris H2) as my Quarq D-Zero can show 5-10% higher numbers by that phase of the workout. Which of course means that I might really be working harder than I think already :slight_smile:.
  3. Garmin does tend to think that I am working at my FTP and normally suggests +/- 1 or 2 W changes on these sessions so I suppose that I am honestly working near threshold.

Any ideas if this is a systemic issue that points to a training deficiency or other issue or just the result of good old fashioned suffering and I should just keep powering through to the best of my ability?

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Hi Darren.
Welcome to Suf.
Can you give examples of the workouts that you are struggling with?
It sounds as though your ftp is a bit high, but some workouts can do that even on the right numbers.
Well done for dropping gp 90% and still powering through!
Chris

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Hit it on Thin Air today. As well as Bat and the 5x7 and 5x8 progressions. Generally seems to be the longer I have to hold near threshold that I hit it.

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It sounds like the drift on your turbo might be the issue. Run a workout in level mode, using your quarq as the power source, and see how you get on.

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Hey Darren,
When was the last time you did a 4DP? I have just taken 2 weeks off and as a result when I got back on the trainer I have reduced the overall intensity of my workouts for this week while I ease my way back into it.

The HR gradually getting higher and higher over the same intensity is a sign that your body is working harder to hold the same efforts from when you last set your 4DP numbers.

So I would say you are suffering but just that little bit too much which is holding you back from achieving Honour Glory and Victory at the end of your workout. On your next workout I recommend lowering the intensity to 85% and see how you go.

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You’re not grinding are you? I find intervals with a lower cadence than ideal feel easy but are unsustainable, so I try and spin until near the end even if it feels harder.

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This is great advice. I am also hitting the same wall and my heart rate seems to runaway into upper zone 4/lower zone 5. I have been thinking that it is fatigue related but it could also be that my fitness has reduced although I have not been away from training.

I have been doing the FTP progression 1: 5 X 6.

I have actually been doing recovery rides to get the fatigue out because I also have been charting my daily morning HR and Heart Rate Variability too.

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After I did Half Monty I almost failed at Recovery Spin…
That happened for 2 or 3 weeks.
I thought I did something wrong. but consistency helped a lot

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The 4DP numbers are from end of May and I have been riding pretty consistently since then. Garmin’s algorithm lined up pretty well with the 4DP when I did it so I have been using it as a “fitness check” since then to make sure that I was staying on track. And as indicated Garmin has been pretty consistently reporting a +/- 1 or 2 W change since then so while I have left structured indoor training in favor of getting outside I have tried to keep the suffering going.

When I scheduled the FTP block I assumed I might be a little weak at the beginning given the age of the numbers and due to lack of structure, but I am now in week 4 and still seeing the same behavior so figured I would raise the question. I would have hoped that I had at least pulled back even with expectations even if I did not see any improvement in core FTP.

The other question that comes to mind is that my 4DP consistently labels me as a pursuiter. Could it also be that long efforts are just not my strength?

And I had considered dropping to 85% but pride/stubbornness/determination made me go for the glory. Taking the time now to look back on the 4 weeks and ask the questions about whether or not I would have been better off to do it in the first place and what I would do differently next time.

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Not grinding - typically holding 75 and above for the first half even when asked for 60 (I just can’t seem to get that slow sometimes). But once I hit the wall it takes everything I can to not grind until I lower the numbers.

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Everyone is different, but I can tell you that for me that would be deadly after 20 or 30 minutes. No way I could maintain that low a cadence. At FTP I aim for 100, but end up averaging upper 90s. Unless the video instructs it below 90 I find bad, below 80 is a never event.

If I were you I’d try a cadence just a little above normal to start each episode. It’ll naturally drift down to where you’re optimum is, but the damage from the start is smaller. It feels worse when you start though.

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Sounds like you like to suffer and that isn’t a bad thing! It can come down to mind over body also where your mind is pushing you to the limit and the body keeps up as long as possible until it is burnt out. So reducing the intensity to go for longer can be beneficial and improve performance in the long term.

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Ok, so this has happened to me as well. Causes here are tough to pin down.

  • straight up, doing half and then reducing it … way to go. You got a good workout in and created the right stress for later adaptation. Also implied you’re ‘not far off’ I’d suggest.
  • I’m not sure what the trainer drift thing is, but I can say if you’re using different equipment then there’s easily enough variability in equipment to push you too hard in the first half of a workout in which case you’re doing well !! I have found that while I can use my crank power I just don’t indoors anymore. I only use the same trainer every time so that indoor training is fixed as indoor training and the workouts are then ‘set’
  • if the power equipment isn’t an issue, but you’re still hitting good HR numbers then it could be you’re just a touch off in your targets … HR still being up is good (as lower HR may have been an indicator of fatigue). Is it worth hitting the same workout, with the same setup, with the same ‘ready state’, but start at 96% and push through it?
  • not everyone agrees with this approach … so pinch off salt with this one … I do FF a bit more often … so at the end of a ‘week 4’ recovery week I sometime shove the FF in to keep the number fresh. I did that in H1 this year and I definitely benefited from regular updates, and psychologically I always knew it was just and ‘off day’ if I didn’t get close on a workout… it kept that ‘doubt’ away and it encouraged me internally to remind myself I can actually do it as I regularly test at this level (excluding Nine Hammers)

Sorry - that was an essay. HTH.

Is your hydration/temperature/fan setup good?

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Interestingly, I’m the complete opposite. Over 100 , and I know there’s going to be trouble at some point. The same power at 80-85 is like a walk in the park. Going down to 50 or 60, I’ll be feeling that the next day!

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I started off a bit lower (~85) but find brick workouts easier with a higher cadence and so it has drifted up. If I only did cycling I imagine I’d have a cadence of 90-95. As well as being different between people it can also be changed.

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