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Real Worried About Decline in Performance

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Real Worried About Decline in Performance

Old 03-16-11, 10:33 AM
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Real Worried About Decline in Performance

I recently experienced something that I am a bit worried about, as I am new to targeted training with power.

So some quick background:
Prior to last week, due to work, I was training for the previous three weeks about 5 hours per week, mostly in 1 hours interval sessions or hard lunch time rides which mimic interval efforts. Each Tuesday, when taking my power class, my power numbers were consistent and improving.
I then needed to take about 5 days straight off from the bike, and then starting last Wednesday, had the following ride schedule:

A) Wednesday: a real fast and hard lunch time ride with our two fastest riders at work. Felt strong
B) Thursday Evening – make-up power meter class. Felt fine, and power numbers were consistent.
C) Friday: climbed Flagstaff mountain and then a leisurely ride around Boulder afterwards.
D) Saturday – legs felt tired, but rode the Wadsworth Worlds down near Littleton, CO and then climbed Deer Creek to Evergreen with my club. I ended up bonking ˝ way up (or at least my legs completely gave out). Rode the remaining 35 miles, but really had little to no power. Fine, has happened in the past, and I never gave much thought to it except I was tired. I never really measured the impact of this in the past, but never really noticed bonking on a ride as impacting my performance in the past either.

However, I rested Sunday and Monday, and then on Tuesday, at the PowerMeter class, my power numbers were significantly lower. I could barely maintain a low zone 4 pace over 3 minutes where normally I could maintain a Zone 6 pace for 5 minutes.
Questions:

A) Did I essentially burn muscle off when I bonked, such that I did significant damage to my training program such that my power has been reduced by about 80 watts?

B) Have others experienced this, and if so, how long did it take to get back to their original power, and what did they do to get back to their original power?

I am worried since I have a few races upcoming in the next month, and am worried I took a huge step back. At the power numbers last night, it would be useless to race.
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Old 03-16-11, 10:40 AM
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this isnt anywhere near a large enough trend to be worried about it.

especially if you have a month before your race.

and no, you didnt hurt yourself enough on a 35 mile ride to burn significant muscle.

just stay the path and recognize youre gonna have bad days and weeks and try to keep good records so you can identify trends in sleep, rest, nutrition, stress, hydration, etc...
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Old 03-16-11, 10:51 AM
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Badhat -
the Saturday ride was 70 miles total, with the last 35 post-bonk. This is what concerns me, is riding 2.5 hours with climbing and likely using my leg muscles for fuel.
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Old 03-16-11, 10:53 AM
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i see

even still. everything stands.

you overcooked and youre feeling it.

theres no evidence of a long term trend yet.
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Old 03-16-11, 10:56 AM
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theres just not that much long term damage you can do to your muscles in one ride.
tendons and joints and such are a different story, but as long as you arent feeling tendonitis or anything, dont sweat it.

hydrate and eat well, ease back into it, and call it a lesson learned on your limits.
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Old 03-16-11, 11:40 AM
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Originally Posted by badhat View Post
i see
even still. everything stands.
you overcooked and youre feeling it.
theres no evidence of a long term trend yet.
+1. I think the Saturday ride with your legs already tired should have been more of a Zone 2 ride but it didn't happen that way. Just stick with your normal training plan and throw in a recovery day in the middle. GL
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Old 03-16-11, 11:54 AM
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We all have bad days. Sounds like you had a big week; sometimes it requires more than two days off to recover fully from those. Your body isn't stupid. It isn't going to use muscle for fuel if there's fat to burn. And everyone's got some fat to burn. Nobody loses 80W off their threshold in a day.

Give yourself a break (cut yourself some slack and stop panicking), a day off, and a retest (in that order). You'll be good as new and firing on all cylinders.
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Old 03-16-11, 12:11 PM
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Try being forced to take 2 months off the bike..
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Old 03-16-11, 12:16 PM
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Originally Posted by mattm View Post
Try being forced to take 2 months off the bike..
No kidding. Right in the middle of that experiment. Took a vacation in which resulted in a month off, then got hit with the flu a couple weeks after I got back (just getting over it). I haven't been able to string together a good week of training since the first week of Feb. I'm not really planning on being good for a race until May.
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Old 03-16-11, 12:32 PM
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5 +/- days off and then report back in 2 weeks. As has been said, you were a bit cooked.
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Old 03-16-11, 12:47 PM
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"B) Have others experienced this, and if so, how long did it take to get back to their original power, and what did they do to get back to their original power?"

Less than a week.

2 weeks ago I had a "big week" where I felt great and did something like 5 out of 6 or 6 out of 7 days. I'll have to look when I get home. The next week I abandoned after 15 minutes the first night on the trainer. The second day, while gearing up I just stopped, jumped in the shower then went to bed. From there it was day on/ day off for the rest of the week.

Now I'm back - headed into another big week. Racing next Tuesday.
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Old 03-16-11, 01:59 PM
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Thanks guys. I guess I have read too many training blogs about over training, and the effects on performance. It was such a dramatic loss of power that even now, I am a little shocked.
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Old 03-16-11, 02:25 PM
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Originally Posted by VT Biker View Post
Thanks guys. I guess I have read too many training blogs about over training, and the effects on performance. It was such a dramatic loss of power that even now, I am a little shocked.
Did a big week ending in a big ride on a Saturday, then raced a time trial on Sunday. At that time, I could usually hold in the lower 300W's for 45 minutes; that day I could only barely push 270W. My heartrate never came up past 140bpm; I can usually time trial at 170-175bpm. A big fat waste of money and time, that TT was.
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Old 03-16-11, 11:45 PM
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So what should I do during this period when I am trying to return to normal? Nothing except stretching? Zone 1/2 rides around the neighborhood?

Any advise?
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Old 03-17-11, 05:30 AM
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My opinion is to take 5 days totally off the bike. On day 6, ride and see if you feel even a blip of any tiredness or hindrance of zip. If so, either day off again or, if you are missing the bike some, ride as easy as you can imagine, below z1 in spirit. Your legs need to recover!! As an aside, 5-8 days off the bike is not going to wipe out your prior training and put you behind the 8-ball. I still get nervous myself when doing this. It has never turned out to be a problem; in fact, it has always been a plus. Good luck; you'll be fine. Certainly get other opinions.
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Old 03-17-11, 05:50 AM
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Right now, there's not a lot you can do except do some easy z1/z2 for a day or two and cut back on the speed work. You will probably come out of this stronger.

In the future, a few things.

It's good to listen to your body, but your body will lie to you. Stick to the plan. Unless you're a top echelon racer, intensity should be planned and measured.

Group rides are great, but if the plan calls for an easy day, you have to resist the temptation to go hard. When the group goes, sit on the back. Don't be a hero.

Work a short z1/z2 ride in after intensity days. They can help you recover better than a day off. Taper up, taper down.
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Old 03-17-11, 06:50 AM
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If you go the multiple days off the bike route, be aware that the first day back on the bike will suck. Your power will be down, it'll hurt, etc. This is normal, don't let it discourage you. 60-90 minutes of easy spinning and your legs will once again feel limber enough that you'll be able to ride.

I'd probably just go with 3 days off the bike, then a ~60-90 minute EASY ride (like 12mph on flat ground kind of easy), and then re-asses from there. Even then I'd expect my legs to feel like crap on that easy ride.
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Old 03-17-11, 08:27 AM
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Originally Posted by kensuf View Post
If you go the multiple days off the bike route, be aware that the first day back on the bike will suck. Your power will be down, it'll hurt, etc. This is normal, don't let it discourage you. 60-90 minutes of easy spinning and your legs will once again feel limber enough that you'll be able to ride.

I'd probably just go with 3 days off the bike, then a ~60-90 minute EASY ride (like 12mph on flat ground kind of easy), and then re-asses from there. Even then I'd expect my legs to feel like crap on that easy ride.
This...


I suggest that you dont take an entie week off the bike. Instead take what you have been doing volume wise and cut it in half, take the intensity you have been doing and cut it in half.... 4-7 days of this and you will give the body enough rest to recover while still keeping the legs sort of fresh. Also light workouts encourage blood flow and help recovery better than sitting on the couch.

After the 4-7 day break do a few days of solid L2-L3 work before jumping into hard rides. Your legs and body will thank you...

I take a break like this every 4 to 6 weeks regardless of I feel like I need it or not. In years past I didnt follow my own advice and capped my fitness because of it.
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Old 03-17-11, 09:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff View Post
Your body isn't stupid. It isn't going to use muscle for fuel if there's fat to burn.
Yeah, it will depending on the circumstance. Not likely in this case though.

It would be helpful to look at HR data, but absent that two days off after a bonk should be enough to restore glycogen levels, so it's likely that your body went into repair/recovery mode which will often result in a lousy performance coming off that break. It's why GT guys go ride on their day off.
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Old 03-17-11, 10:04 AM
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man for better or worse, i dont think i've taken more than 4 days off the bike in over 10 years...

granted, some of those days have been really easy
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Old 03-17-11, 10:06 AM
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wait thats not true i switched to running and driving to work for 6 months in 2005.
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Old 03-17-11, 11:16 AM
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You might be overtrained... but more likely you are dehydrated. We've had some warm weather lately and it takes the body time to adjust to that. Drink water gratuitously. If you have to get up and pee during the night, then you are probably good.
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Old 03-23-11, 08:50 PM
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So, new? It's one week later. What did you do and how is it going now?
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Old 03-23-11, 09:06 PM
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Well,

I took most of the week off (work kind of forced my hand anyways). Rode 50 miles around the Air Force Academy, we did about 6k feet of climbing, but at a Z3/Z4 pace on Saturday. The pace was not blistering, and the legs felt okay, but still not lively. I had a tryout with a team on Sunday, pre-riding the Mead-Roubaix race. First loop was fine until the very end, and I felt a little stronger than a few of the others we were riding with initially. I forgot to bring anything other than the Gatorade in my bottle, and there are NO facilities around there to refuel. So I did not eat enough, and the legs again, felt dead the second lap we rode, to the point where I was no longer able to keep up with the other guys I was riding with on the second lap. So I took off this week except for Zone 1/2 riding, including a power training class I paid for. My legs are feeling better each day, but they still do not feel as lively as they should. I think sleep, loads of protein and water are doing the trick each day.

I am slated to race the DU Criterium at City Park this Saturday. I need the workout anyways, and if since it is only 45 minutes, if they really are dead, I figure not too much damage will be done.

Then I am going to do a long-slow ride Sunday, Monday, my power training class Tuesday, and Z1/Z2 efforts through Friday. I am then slated to race the Louisville Crit in Saturday and Groove/Subura Classic Crit on Sunday. Again, I figure if these cannot ruin me too much, since they are only 45 minutes, and not 5 hour rides with 6 thousand feet of climbing.

I then have a week to prepare for Mead-Roubaix. Z1/Z2 riding with the Power class on Tuesday. I figure I will continue to maintain my fitness, without completely destroying my legs. After pre-riding Mead-Roubaix, I know I am not going to come close to a Top-10 finish, and so am a little less worried about the legs, and am going to use it as a training race for Deer-Trail 2 weeks from there.

If anyone has any thoughts on this plan, I am ALL ears, as I am inexperienced.
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Old 03-24-11, 05:06 AM
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I am glad you're feeling a bit better physically and mentally. I can assure that others can provide better guidance than me on your planning. My only thought is about the legs feeling dead again. It would be good to see some pop/liveliness return; although, it sounds like you had some of that before you ran out of fuel. Trust your instincts and don't be afraid of days off or more z1-z2 than you want. Again, I tend to get nervous about losing fitness when I head into a period of several days off or easy riding/recovery. But, I have come out better on the other end every time. For calibration, I should mention that I am in the Masters category and by virtue of that, probably need a bit more recovery time, on average, than someone in the 35-and-under age range.
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