Time for mid-season reset?

So, the endurance MTB race series that i was going to do this year has been fully cancelled. We had one last hope for a race on August 1st, but the county woudln’t issue the permit because we’re not in Phase 3 yet, and, well, it probably wouldn’t have been a good idea anyway, or at least would have needed to be a substantially modified racing experience.

But on the other hand, i’m not that sad because i am nearing the end of a custom plan and i am pretty beat. I moved a planned workout on Monday because i was too tired, I failed 14 Vise Grips today (it was bad pain, not good pain), and HRV has been super low and RHR pretty high all week. The bottom basically just fell out. And it’s weird because HR response to power on endurance rides is good, but the top end power (above FTP) is just not there. The legs today felt like sausages being grilled, like they were swelling and didn’t have room to swell the way they wanted. Felt tight, stuffed and heavy.

A few things it could be:

  1. I’ve been doing intervals since February. Maybe this is just about the limit of what i can do without a break. I had targeted a race series that begin in May, the early races got cancelled, and i tried to hold onto the form until August. Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be.

  2. I could have been overdoing a lot of the intervals. Although i’m no monster sprinter, i’ve got a decent chunk of anaerobic power. In my last 4DP, my 1 min was 530, even though my 5 second power was only a nosehair over 900. And, paradoxically, i think things can be MORE taxing on you the stronger you are at them. I tried to exceed a lot of power targets on a lot of the AC workouts and maybe that was the wrong choice.

  3. I made bad choices, maybe. About two weeks ago I made some uhh “modifications” to the plan because the weather was gorgeous and i wanted to go mountain biking. One day was a 7 hour ride, NP of like 250 including some season bests for 5, 10 and 20 min power. I thought i’d bounce back from it but maybe i still need more rest.

Anyway, i’m not sure where to go from here. I do think I need a break from the intensity, but at the same time, I don’t want to get off the bike. The weather finally got good! And i find enjoyment from the process of working at something to make it better, so i don’t want to totally unplug.

I’m thinking, maybe take a week or two of just riding easy, then try to push the long endurance?

Have any of you run into this kinda thing before? And how do you approach? It’s one thing to stay off the bike when the weather gets yucky in fall and winter but it’s finally nice out in the Pacific NW and I want to shred some gnar.

3 Likes

My only comment I can add to this question is:
Fitness is built during the rest days. I would suggest taking your foot off the gas for a week or two and just go riding with your chubby buddy’s :grimacing:

2 Likes

Hey @devolikewhoa ,
I’ve had plenty of athletes do similar things because of a combination of over exuberance and races being canceled. Just looking at your plan, I’d say you definitely coked yourself by the extra volume . Not to worry though…your body is telling you what it needs. A few suggestions:

  1. Take a couple of weeks of easy riding.
  2. Reassess your goals
  3. Be ruthlessly compassionate with yourself, it’s tough when the racing season is suddenly gone. Don’t beat yourself up, you are not the “ Lone Ranger”
  4. Keep connected with others, like this group.
  5. Consider another customized plan when you feel the time is right.
  6. Check out my post on recovery/stress

Cheers!

5 Likes

yeah it’s so easy for me to identify this problem in another, yet . . . somehow very difficult when the subject is myself :slight_smile: Also frustrating because for a while there, i was really flying.

I think it’s like, i respond really well to intensity at first, but at a certain point, i should have downshifted to focus on sustainability.

Also, i think i added enough extra volume outdoors that i should have gotten rid of one day’s worth of Suff indoor intervals. I thought it would be gravy as long as i stayed in zone 1/2 for the extra outdoor rides but that might have been a mistake.

2 Likes

It is very hard to be objective when self coaching. That’s why I have a job😄. The dose/ response to volume vs intensity is so individual. It’s all a learning process and an experiment of n =1. Document what works vs what doesn’t and you will find a training method that works best for you.
Of course that will constantly change over time. Keep up the good work!

3 Likes

Yeah i’ve started keeping a journal for exactly that reason. And started recording and annotating in trainingpeaks when i was the strongest and felt the best. I’m 37 and i feel like i’m FINALLY starting to figure this out.

2 Likes

Great post. If it helps any I think I’m in exactly the same place after about 6 weeks of starting to go outside on a weekend day for most of those weeks once lockdown started easing.
And I’m pretty tired now I think. So about to read the coach responses here and I’ll be doing that reset (I actually coincidentally used that term yesterday with a pro triathlete I was riding with).
It’s hard when it’s fun vs progress almost isn’t it.

2 Likes

@devolikewhoa I can relate to your experience. I started a custom plan in September last year to prep for a gran fondo in April that has been postponed until… well, who knows. I ended up doing three plans back to back and finished at the end of June. My fitness, on bike and off, was probably the best it has ever been. Near the end of the last plan I started modifying to take advantage of the weather. I felt great! Sprinting didn’t hurt as much (don’t tell GvA) and I was beating PRs on Strava set 10 years ago. Not bad for 54.

That said there were mornings where I did not feel like riding. I decided once the last plan ended I would just ride. Still unmotivated some mornings. But if I push myself to get moving I always enjoy the ride. Sometimes you just need to ride to ride. Not to race. Not to beat any prior time. But just enjoy the bike and rolling along.

When I get feeling for when the event will happen I expect I will start another plan. Until the I will “just ride.” Thanks to @Coach.Spencer.R for some great coaching and support.

2 Likes

Hey so update on this. I took about two weeks of just riding easy and doing some yoga, plus doing a few long rides that were paced just off RPE and not HR or power. I explored some new roads and overall it’s been a good time. I stopped feeling sore and stopped feeling tired all the time, and could walk up the stairs without difficulty for hte first time in a while.

About a week ago I tried a hard ride and it sucked real bad. But then this week, I just did another one, and it was a lot better, described further below. Here were some fun results from these weeks:

  1. Tippy tippy top high end power is back, up to about 2 minutes, but power is harder to sustain. Anaerobic power and capacity are both back in action, but MAP is lower than it was and FTP is lower too.
  2. Low end endurance is still good and is in fact a lot better than it was when i started slamming intervals in February.

So overall I think this is pretty cool. I took the rest, took some time off, and it’s clear the body gave up some of its adaptations, but it kept a lot. Maybe what this means is that some portion of my PR performances were being driven by biochemical adaptations (like endurance enzymes that improve mitochondrial function and vascular coordination or whatever), which is normal. But i hit a certain point where the body wanted to return to homeostasis, so i had to rest. But now that i’m restarting, i’m actually starting from a HIGHER level than where i was, because the structural adaptations (capillarization and what have you) are still there. So the long-term effects of endurance training is a real thing. Awesome!

Also, I got great data from this experience. As i mentioend before, i started training in Feb for a race series that begin early May, and i was strongest at end of April, it turns out. Well, I already knew that doing a lot of high intensity intervals gets me in shape fast, but now i have a pretty good idea about how long I can maintain that before I need to restructure to focus on sustainability. Maybe next time I would extend my winter cross training a few extra weeks, start the hard intervals in March, really hit the beginning of the series hard, but then after that first race, immediately switch to only two (longer) hard workouts per week, with the rest being easy volume plus a long ride, to fine tune as I go.

from here, i’m going to use this as an opportunity to experiment with a different vo2max protocol that attempts to maximize a certain physiological adaptation: the preload that prompts increase in diastolic filling volume. So today I did A Very Dark Place, but in level mode so that i could overpace the targets, keep the cadence pretty high (like 110 to 120 the entire time), and let the power drop as I fatigue (since cadence that high inevitable = less power). Seemed to go well, was completeable but really hard, got HR up to like 95% of max. Garmin thought i was dying (because higher HR for the same power), but i think that’s just another lesson in what you give up by only focusing on one metric (maximizing power). I’m going to repeat this two or three times a week for about three weeks, rest, do it again, rest, and then retest and see where we’re at.

1 Like