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Off season training load

Old 01-08-21, 08:16 AM
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MoAlpha
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Off season training load

I am a 64 yo, former competitive cyclist and runner who started getting back into moderate fitness a few years ago and added a power meter this summer because I had so much time to ride and I felt both ready to step it up and in danger of overtraining. I got back to a level where I could hang with bottom third of the slow group from the local knucklehead club and an FTP of about 3.3 W/kg. My goal for next season is just to build incrementally on that.

Since the onset of winter, I've been spending time on the trainer doing a mix of intervals, Zwift group rides, resistance training off the bike, and getting outside whenever I can. I am carrying a chronic training load of about 110, which feels okay. During the season, I was easily tolerating 700-800 TSS/wk with occasional 900 weeks, although with all the erg work on the trainer, I'm feeling it a lot more.

The question is: is it better to lighten up, go for a walk, concentrate on the weights, and fight my way back in a month or two, or train at this rate right through the winter? I have seen it proposed that it's so much harder for elderly "athletes" to get it back that it might make sense to forget about the concept of an off season altogether. On the other hand, I've always had an off season and have some concern about burnout over the long term. I have seen no good data on this question for real athletes, let along elderly duffers. What are other people doing?

I should also add that I have used exercise to treat clinical-level anxiety, especially this time of year, for most of my life and this load really scratches the itch. For this reason, I've never been good at periodizing and it's especially hard without a race schedule.
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Old 01-08-21, 11:48 AM
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My CTL is about the same as yours from around June-September. After my last long ride of last season at the end of September, I started weight-lifting 3 days a week, with a few easy rides a week and my CTL dropped down to around 10. After Thanksgiving I started running and weight lifting 3 days a week with 2 endurance rides on the rollers and two days off. My CTL is back up to 35, and I'll steadily build that up to around 70 or so by the end of February. When it gets above freezing in March, I'll start doing longer rides outside and build up to around 100 or so by May so I'm in good shape for the bulk of the randonneuring season with a peak for a 1000k I have planned at the end of June. Then maintenance mode over the summer and ramp back down again in the Fall so I can do it again next year. Every year is a little different, but it's been something along those lines for the last 5 years or so. I turned 50 last year and find that planning for annual periodization helps a lot with overall fitness because I can spend a few months cross-training and motivation for the summer season. I would have a hard time staying motivated enough to maintain a 3-digit CTL all year long, especially since I don't like to ride indoors for more than 90 minutes or so. I may try to keep the weight lifting going all season this year for the first time, but I'll see how that goes. Only so many hours in the day.
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Old 01-08-21, 04:37 PM
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How sure are you about your metrics? I ask because 110 CTL is an f'ton of training stress, especially to hold for longer durations. To compare, I've hit 100 CTL about 5 times (for no more than a week at a time) in the last five years, typically in prep for national championship events or other really big races, and that took a concerted effort of 12-15 hours a week with a very needed taper afterwards. I don't think I've hit 110 CTL in the last decade.

In any case, my CTL is typically between 70-85 in the winter off of 7-10 hours a week and pushes up into the 90s by the start of April/May/race season. I do this through a heavy diet of tempo, sweetspot, and threshold work, with a couple of group rides and bigger (short) efforts peppered in two or three times a month throughout the winter.

I've found that it's possible to maintain a fairly tight range of CTL between 60-90 for the entire year, with little 3-5 day breaks sprinkled in. Due to that, I don't have super high peaks or very low lows, and am always just a couple of weeks away from peak fitness depending on how much intensity I want to push in to sharpen up.

Lots of threshold work helps keep me aerobically strong, and lower hour ~9-10 weeks keeps me from burning out. With higher hours I'd have a lot more z2/tempo work and less sweetspot/threshold to keep training stress in a decent range.
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Old 01-08-21, 05:41 PM
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I'm in the low 70s now, planning to be 90s around May, depending if races actually happen. I can't imagine 110 without sacrificing my job, my marriage, or both.
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Old 01-08-21, 07:41 PM
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Just chiming in with my Ctl stuff. I train 10/11hrs a week at the moment, doing just sweet spot and my Ctl is 86 (tsb -15 as Im nearly the end of my block, itll get down a little more before I recover). Ive tend to peak around 90-100 in July and get down to like 70, so like a comment above Im kind of always in generally in shape, even if not in peak shape
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Old 01-08-21, 09:09 PM
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
How sure are you about your metrics? I ask because 110 CTL is an f'ton of training stress, especially to hold for longer durations. To compare, I've hit 100 CTL about 5 times (for no more than a week at a time) in the last five years, typically in prep for national championship events or other really big races, and that took a concerted effort of 12-15 hours a week with a very needed taper afterwards. I don't think I've hit 110 CTL in the last decade.

In any case, my CTL is typically between 70-85 in the winter off of 7-10 hours a week and pushes up into the 90s by the start of April/May/race season. I do this through a heavy diet of tempo, sweetspot, and threshold work, with a couple of group rides and bigger (short) efforts peppered in two or three times a month throughout the winter.

I've found that it's possible to maintain a fairly tight range of CTL between 60-90 for the entire year, with little 3-5 day breaks sprinkled in. Due to that, I don't have super high peaks or very low lows, and am always just a couple of weeks away from peak fitness depending on how much intensity I want to push in to sharpen up.

Lots of threshold work helps keep me aerobically strong, and lower hour ~9-10 weeks keeps me from burning out. With higher hours I'd have a lot more z2/tempo work and less sweetspot/threshold to keep training stress in a decent range.
Reasonably sure, but not positive. The most likely source of error would be the FTP estimate, but I think it’s unlikely to be low, based on my unimpressive real world performance. Looking over the numbers, yes, I did put in a pretty solid average of 12 hrs a week on the bike this season, even if you exclude commutes and other junk. I also should have written that 112 last week is my high for the season. I felt good this summer in the 80-100 range and then took two weeks off in Sep. I ramped back up to this level from about 70 and, this being my first year with a PM on the bike, I really don’t know how sustainable it is. Hence my question, which was really about working hard through the winter and stands even if the absolute numbers are wrong.

Anyway, thanks. It’s good to hear what better athletes are doing and it sounds like I should back off a bit. For reference, and if you’ll excuse my asking, how old are you?

Incidentally, I read somewhere, maybe in Joe Friel’s “Fast after Fifty,” that there is wide individual variation in the ability to tolerate training load and that tolerance is inversely related to the positive fitness response to stress. I have always been sluggish and maybe I’m on the high-tolerance end of that spectrum.
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Old 01-09-21, 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by MoAlpha View Post
...Incidentally, I read somewhere, maybe in Joe Friels Fast after Fifty, that there is wide individual variation in the ability to tolerate training load and that tolerance is inversely related to the positive fitness response to stress. I have always been sluggish and maybe Im on the high-tolerance end of that spectrum.
All training load is not created equal. It's a lot easier for me to get a high CTL doing a few tempo rides during the week and riding brevets every weekend than someone riding intervals all week and racing on the weekend. It takes me a lot more hours, but none of them are particularly stressful. I also just got my first power meter last season but didn't really change my training at all. I just wanted to get a baseline for a normal season so it's been interesting for me to track.

My big takeaway from "Fast After Fifty" is that we need more rest as we get older, so we need to build that into the plan. I've also noticed that weight-lifting a few times a week really helps a lot with the aches and pains that come with long hours in the saddle, which I didn't notice when I was younger. I'm also not as fast as I used to be, and I expect I'll get slower as I get older, so I've kind of given up on being fast and focus instead on overall fitness and having fun on the bike.
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Old 01-09-21, 10:46 AM
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Originally Posted by kingston View Post
All training load is not created equal. It's a lot easier for me to get a high CTL doing a few tempo rides during the week and riding brevets every weekend than someone riding intervals all week and racing on the weekend. It takes me a lot more hours, but none of them are particularly stressful. I also just got my first power meter last season but didn't really change my training at all. I just wanted to get a baseline for a normal season so it's been interesting for me to track.

My big takeaway from "Fast After Fifty" is that we need more rest as we get older, so we need to build that into the plan. I've also noticed that weight-lifting a few times a week really helps a lot with the aches and pains that come with long hours in the saddle, which I didn't notice when I was younger. I'm also not as fast as I used to be, and I expect I'll get slower as I get older, so I've kind of given up on being fast and focus instead on overall fitness and having fun on the bike.
Yes, I agree that TSS fails to account fully for intensity. And funny, my takeaway from Fast After 50 was, use it or lose it and work that VO2max! Sign of a great work of literature: Everyone sees something different.

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Old 01-09-21, 11:01 AM
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Originally Posted by MoAlpha View Post
...Everyone sees something different.
I was probably just looking for a reason to rest more.
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