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Training plan suggestions? built around group rides. (Wed, May 19).

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Training plan suggestions? built around group rides. (Wed, May 19).

Old 05-19-21, 11:27 PM
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Grotug
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Training plan suggestions? built around group rides. (Wed, May 19).

Hi! I need some suggestions on what workout I should do on Fridays: Sprints, VO2 Max intervals, or sweet spot (or something else?) I'm 41 years old and weigh about 146 pounds.

I have three primary goals this season beneath the main umbrella of wanting to increase my FTP: First goal is to ride strong with the group rides as they are the most fun, and as the season goes on will hopefully be more like races, and I would like to have a decent sprint as there is usually at least one sprint in the group ride and these days I seem to be better at sprints than climbs (I am the slowest climber among the strong A group riders--but about midpack for sprints)--I would like to do better on the hills. I did hill repeats last Thursday but they were a bit lackluster; my best interval of 7 was the first one which was 262 watts or 108% of my best all time 20 minute power (242 watts), since owning a power meter anyway which I got in 2019)--this was a 6 minute climb with enough steepness that I would drop below my ideal cadence (I prefer 100 cadence, sometimes higher, sometimes lower, but when I'm grinding below 80 cadence it's hard for me to move up. hill fast). That personal best 20 minute power was done on May 4, 2021.

My second goal is to do a 110 mile ride in late September with three friends, one of whom has *much* more talent than me, but doesn't do structured training but used to race cat 3 cyclocross. A week before that there's also a local race (not technically categorized, but the front field is made up of cat3-cat4 calibre, otherwise any Joey can participate and it's designed for people like me that otherwise don't race. It is only 27 miles on rolling terrain with a few short climbs (nothing steep) that happens every year and looks like it might happen this year (if it does this will probably be my priority event of the year as it is an actual race). If my training/riding goes well this summer I may go to a race or two outside these events, but generally I do not race and enjoy the group rides enough!

I've only been riding with power meter this season since April 19 and most of those rides have been with a heart rate monitor. Training Peaks tells me my current fitness is trending up at 43, fatigue is trending up at 93 and form is trending down at -65. I'm not 100% sure on how to read these numbers, but I get the general gist of it. Am I supposed to prevent fatigue from hitting 100? I'm definitely focusing on recovery tomorrow (I try for like 90 watts most of the time during recovery rides or whatever feels really good).

My somewhat structured training week has loosely been coming together over the last few weeks:
Monday is an easy, short tune up ride with 4x15" sprinty leg openers with 4 minutes of zone 1 recovery between each sprint, to get me ready for the punchy Tuesday night "A Pace" group ride. I average around 650+ watts for the 15 seconds efforts.
The Tuesday group ride has been a large 2 hour group (up to 18 peeps) with lots of surges and too much zone 1 and one VO2 max or threshold effort for about 8-15 minutes, but I think this large group ride might get split into two groups (one to go out 6 minutes earlier and be chased by the higher calibre second group).
This week (today) I've just started another A pace group ride (half the size with lots of pace-lining, so very little zone 1), but still a pretty punchy ride with a 15 minute effort up a hill at 100% of my best 20 minute power on fairly tired legs near the end of the 2 hour ride. I was struggling after this climb to stay with a 3 man rotating pace line (we got dropped from the core group on that climb) so was definitely a "nothing left at the end of the ride" workout. I'm fairly certain all of the core strong A riders are Zwifting and were doing so over the winter (I don't ride indoors).

Thursday: easy spin recovery ride between 45-60 min.
Friday: ??? more intervals? sweet spot? threshold? VO2 max? sprints?
Weekend: One or two endurance rides with at least one ride being 4+ hours. If I do the second endurance ride it will be a group ride at mostly zone 2 (and hopefully not too much zone 1).
I've been averaging 206 miles over the last 4 weeks (between 11-12 hours) to give a sense of my fitness level and training. I did 3 solo centuries last fall (first time I had done a century) over the course of 3 Sundays (all ridden at zone 2). In the winter I did a lot of winter gravel rides and did 700+ kilometers during the festive 500 (but it was all zone 1 and zone 2). I didn't ride in February due to snowpack. I've never done indoor training. In April I started riding in earnest again with hard tempo 3 hour rides and longer zone 2 rides for a couple weeks and started the loosely structured training about a month ago. At this time I want to build my training plan around the Tuesday and Wednesday group rides which will be hard work outs (VO2 max/threshold kinda riding with less and less zone1 / rests as the season goes on). My best all time 90 minute power is 196 set on April 20th, 2021. Tonight I had 195 watts for 90 minutes. My best 60 minute power was 200 watts set April 4, 2021, but that was a very punchy ride and Training Peaks has the NP for that 60 minutes at 236. The only FTP test I ever did was one I paid for (it was a gift actually) where you breathe into a thing while riding at different zones. That was in spring of 2019 and it said I had 178 FTP, but I very quickly rode away from that FTP so it was never ever useful for the training I did in 2019, so I am very reticent to suffer or pay for another FTP test, since FTP is a fluctuating thing! I'd much rather guess at my FTP based on ride data from TrainingPeaks. I figure for training purposes my FTP is around 230-240 watts.

One interesting thing to note is I didn't do any group rides in summer of 2020 (pandemic and so I didn't do much hard riding at all (I don't have the motivation to ride hard without there bing a group ride to be riding for!). My max heart rate in 2019 was 173. My max heart rate in 2020 was like 153. This year, even though I've upped the intensity again my max heart rate is still only 157 and I have gone deep on at least a few occasions (including tonight, Wed, May 19). I'm 41 years old and weigh about 146 pounds.
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Old 05-20-21, 09:15 AM
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That's a lot of info in that post, so I'll just focus on 1 line: "Training Peaks tells me my current fitness is trending up at 43, fatigue is trending up at 93 and form is trending down at -65." Fatigue of 93 is very high for most people, and form of -65 indicates you very likely need some rest. But, it also could be these numbers are really far off because the FTP set in Training Peaks is far off.

Overall my suggestion:
Do a 20 min power test to see where your FTP really lies and set your Training peaks FTP and zones accordingly to make sure your CTL, FTL, Form are in the right ballpark.
Structure your training over roughly 4 week blocks where every 4th week is relatively easy to really rest and bring your form into positive numbers. It is amazing how much more you improve when you give yourself that relative break every 3-5 weeks.
For now, given the high fatigue and low form, make Friday's another easy spin or day off the bike. Even when you have a plan dialed in, if Tues, Wed, Sat, Sun are all pretty hard days, Friday should probably stay as an easy day.

Read 'Training and Racing with a Power Meter' to get a lot more info on setting up your training.

Have fun, and let us know how it goes.
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Old 05-21-21, 09:20 AM
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You're overvaluing high end work imo. You should probably at least for the next few weeks only have 2 days over zone 2; if those end up being group rides so be it and if you need more intensity that day tack it on but don't do it the next day because you have to rest or ride easy. Realistically you can really only ramp up the intensity 2-3 days a week, but mostly just twice a week. If you are doing 3, you're probably doing too much. 70% of your riding should be under 70% of FTP imo if you are doing volume over 10 hours. People undervalue easy rides but they help if you have the time.
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Old 05-21-21, 09:40 AM
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First task is to list the events and assign them a priority. A, B, C. You get to pick ONE priority A. I would pick more "C" items than "B" items to avoid everything being 'kinda' important.

Next, you need to analyze the demands of the event type for the A and B stuff. See if they're totally unique or have overlap. Then, research some plan ideas based mostly around the A event and secondarily the B event. Then start doing it.

I know people love group rides and weeknight worlds, but if it means you torpedo a plan for your fun.......ain't worth it. Backoff and cruise Z2 with the B-group sometimes.

Without knowing a bullet point list of your events and which are priority, can't really suggest much.

Example for myself if looking back in time a bit:
-state TT's: priority A
-weeknight worlds: priority C
-informal local TT segment weekly ride: priority C
-cyclocross season after the state TT's: one race is A priority, probably a pair of B's, and a pair of C's

The weeknight worlds I've done once in two months. Priority C. Too bad so sad. During the "build" for cross season I'll probably make weeknight worlds a "B" item.

Give us a bullet list like the above, with the priority, and the likely demands (event duration, most likely zones used in it, etc..).
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Old 05-22-21, 03:28 PM
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Thanks everyone for the helpful replies!
Thursday I didn't ride
Friday I rode 70 min. super easy zone 1 with around 5X10" high cadence spin ups (up to 160 watts for the spin ups).
Saturday (this morning) I rode 63 miles (a little under 4 hours) almost entirely in zone 2 (151 watts avg). My legs felt normal. I only slipped below zone 2 power a few times very briefly. The ride never felt easy, but I often felt I could put down more power than what I was doing. I've never really understood how easy constant zone 2 riding with no resting and trying at all costs to avoid going into zone 1 is supposed to be, but I find these rides pretty challenging. It'd be much easier to go hard for a little bit, then recover in zone 1 and repeat (which is how I used to ride) rather than hold zone 2 power the whole time, but I'm definitely getting better at it. The second half of the ride saw my heartrate go up about 5 bpm even though my power only went up 5 watts. And my resting heart rate (while eating post ride meal) was a bit high as well (fluctuating in the low 70s, but maybe it's normal to have a higher heart rate after a long ride. It's definitely not the first time this has happened. My resting heartrate is normally in the low 40s. I don't suppose there's anyway to adjust past FTP in TrainingPeaks to see how it would affect the training numbers for past rides? All my metrics are still being reported as trending up: fitness=45, fatigue=96, form=-41. I suppose could get my FTP tested again; the place I went to last time is an hour and a half away, though, but the idea of doing it the old fashioned way scares me (has to be done on indoor trainer, correct? Or can I try to find some road where I can hammer for 20 minutes?). That's why I'd rather just guestimate it based on peak normalized power. The FTP I've set in TP is actually based on my recent best 20 min average power, not best 20 minute Normalized Power. So maybe I should bump it from 230 to 240 (0.95 X 252NP = 239.4). At any rate I'm feeling pretty "toasty" so maybe it's a good time to take it easy next 7 days and then start another training block with an FTP test.

I think I might take it easy tomorrow or not ride at all.
Monday I'll do leg openers.
Tuesday I'll go hard and I guess I should skip Wednesday group ride, go easy rest of week and do an FTP test on Friday or Saturday. Any thoughts?
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Old 05-23-21, 08:55 AM
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sounds good, let us know how it goes!
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Old 06-01-21, 06:59 AM
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I'd 2nd what furiousferret said about volume and intensity. If your group rides are as intense as intervals would be, use them as your interval days. That'll have the additional benefit of being very specific, since you're training to do better on those group rides. If you find you want to ramp up the work, add intervals before or after.

I think it's pretty well accepted that more than 2 hard sessions a week doesn't add add'l benefit. There's also consensus that the days you designate as hard should be really hard. It's a data point of one, but over the last few years my hours have increased, and the increase has been in Z1 and Z2. I've got stronger during the same time period.
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Old 06-01-21, 09:11 PM
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I've definitely noticed the benefits from all the zone 2 riding I did last year and over the winter, even though overall it wasn't a huge amount of miles and there were random breaks here and there. I definitely noticed a bump in my overall fitness and I'm now crushing all my Strava PBs. I did very little very intense riding during 2020.
Update on my week: I took Wednesday off, rode *super* easy on Thursday, was going to do an FTP test on Friday but it was cold out and I have a hard time putting down power when it's cold, so that seemed like a bad idea. I didn't ride at all Friday. Saturday and Sunday the weather was absolutely horrendous and so I did not ride. Monday I tried to ramp up after a zone 2 warm up but had a helluva time staying in zone 3 (I ate raviolis 3 hours before the ride--so that might have weighed me down), so I resigned for it to be a zone 2 ride (I was trying to do a little intensity to brush the rust off for Tuesday Night sufferfest group ride). Since I was having a hard time getting into zone 3 I compensated by riding high cadence pretty much the entire ride. Interestingly tonight (Tuseday Night group ride) I found that my legs felt best at high and super high cadences: 100+ up to 120. Not sure if that was because I rode high cadence yesterday? The rest days seemed to have done my legs good as far as power, even though my legs only felt okay: I had new all time pb 5 minute power, 60 minute power and 90 minute power. I also hit highest max power for a ride of this duration for this year (near the very end of the ride to boot even though I was super toasted!). I know I should do an FTP test, but I think I'm gonna estimate based on my numbers from this punchy ride. I really pushed myself hard tonight; didn't allow myself as much recovery mid-climbs as I normally do when I find myself seeing red (only let the watts dip below 200 very briefly during the climbs and backed off just enough to take me out of the red). I'll post my normalized power instead of the averages: 308 NP for 5 minutes, 256 NP for 20 minutes, 240 NP for 60 minutes, 236 NP for 90 minutes, 230 NP for 2 hours 28 minutes (the entire ride). There were some stops in the ride for everyone to regroup since there are varying abilities in the group, so not sure what those pauses mean for these power numbers (I guess without those stops the numbers would be lower).

I think tomorrow is going to be a recovery ride, Thursday zone 2, Friday maybe another intense day, and zone 2 over the weekend and back to sprinty openers on Monday.
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Old 06-06-21, 10:19 PM
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I have some fun updates!

I signed up for a road race on July 12. Two laps of a 21 mile circuit with a 3.4 mile start/finish section outside the loop bringing the Cat 5 race to 47.2 miles (which is the same length as the Tuesday night rides I've been doing and very similar amount of climbing, too). Hopefully I don't get dropped on the steep sections as I am wont to do. https://www.strava.com/routes/2836819237647774428

In other news I found a new high intensity workout to do on Friday evenings (I'm considering dropping the Wedensday night group rides from my schedule since it's not ideal to stack two hard days in a row). I have a friend Diego who used to run cross country in high school (the boy only just turned 20) and he says to me today something to the effect that he thinks he's just as fit as me, which I scoffed at since he hasn't been training and I have been. He backed up his claim with the simple fact that he has better genes than me and he's half my age (he was competitive in high school, I've never been competitive in any sports I've trained in). I started to think about what he said and much to my chagrin it dawned on me he very well may be right. I have scar tissue from a lung surgery I had when I was 19 which may be contributing to my difficulty to get really fast (outside being 41 years old; though before the lung surgery I was a slow ski racer). He then said he thought he could beat me in a sprint up a steep hill--that is, him running up the hill against me biking up the hill. I then postulated to him what grade he thought is the tipping point from the cyclist's favor to that of the runner (he said maybe 5% but I sure hope it's steeper than that!). I also asked him what amount of time would be an ideal sprint for him and he said a minute. I'm not sure at what grade the crossover happens, but there is a short, steep hill that takes about a minute to get up in a hurry, that would be perfect for us to race up, though it just might be steep enough to be in his favor. I think my fitness is going to see me the victor, though! I might have to film our race(s) / test GCN style and upload it to youtube. We'll probably do a best of 4 since it's only a minute climb. Carefully examining the hill on Strava it appears to be about 600 feet in length with a rise of 75 feet giving an average gradient of 12.5%. In order to get up the climb in a minute we will have to move at about 7mph. Will I be able to bike faster than he can run up the hill? Anyone want to put forth predictions? I honestly think it might be close, but I do think I will win. I am fitter, damnit.

Lastly but not leastly, we are doing a chase race group ride this Tuesday. That is, we are splitting up our A group into two groups: the fastest guys will be put in the chasing group and the slower guys in the chased group. I talked to our "team leader" veteran and he said he thought I could go in either group. I'm very torn about which group I want to go in, as I will likely force the group to wait for me on the one long climb, but I think I can put in some solid pulls on any terrain under 5%. I am really very much in the middle of the two groups, though I do think I'm moving on the faster end of the two groups. I feel really good this week after doing 234 miles. My legs feel good, I had a really good feeling high cadence ride today (a century yesterday) and my legs haven't felt this good in a long time (they don't feel heavy at all). That rest week did me good and I should have good legs on Tuesday! There will be a youtube video of this chase race, so stay tuned for that! In the meantime, here is a small group ride video from the preseason:

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Old 06-08-21, 08:32 PM
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Tuesday legs were absolute turds. Part of the issue is that T'storms were forecast so only stronger riders showed up so I had no one to fall back on. I was the weakest link. But I thought my legs were going to be great today and they were not. Ugh. Also weird, is that the day after my 100 miler on Saturday I was feeling good and did a lot of high cadence riding. Felt great. Monday I was crunched for time so I did a slightly harder than normal warm up before doing my sprints at about 30 minutes into the ride. Sprint power was low and I wasn't really feeling good doing them. After the ride my legs were sore which was a real surprise to me. I haven't had sore hamstrings in long time. Anyway, very frustrating to go into Monday with non-heavy legs and overall feeling relatively good only to be so pooped for Tuesday. I had more than 24 hours rest from Monday, too since Saturday, Sunday and Monday were morning rides.

We didn't do the chase ride; we will do it next week. Friday run vs bike up steep climb is still on, though.
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Old 06-09-21, 07:39 AM
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A cyclist friend of mine did a couple run v bike tests with a friend of his and found the tipping point to favor a similarly fit runner on a climb is quite high. Maybe 20% grade or more. I have seen fit trail runners pass recreational mountain bikers on uphill trails many times. Have fun.

Btw, my legs often feel ok the day after a hard ride (such as your 100 miler), then are sore the 2nd day afterwards. It is called delayed onset muscle soreness and it is pretty common. I also don't find that the time of day of rides impacts my recovery. It seems like my recovery is more about nights of sleep since a hard ride instead of hours since the ride.
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Old 08-04-21, 09:38 AM
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A little update. I haven't been following a training plan and I never bothered getting an FTP test. Getting my ass handed to me week after week on the Tuesday night rides started having as much of a mental toll as a physical one. The problem is I am getting stronger but everyone else on that ride is, too, so it's hard to appreciate my gains. I kept expecting the ride to get easier since I had been training but it never happened. The rides are always hard and are not getting easier. They've also been more exclusive since it's rained almost every Tuesday keeping the less strong fairweather riders away (I don't mind riding in the rain).

On Saturday I participated in a very challenging century (110 miles, 13,000+ feet of climbing) but it had 6 feed stations (snacks, water) which was amaaazing. I rode with random people closer to my level (I didn't ride with any of the Tuesday night riders, several of whom were there and posted much more impressive times than me), but I enjoyed myself and didn't even look at the distance on my bike computer the whole day (except once at mile 27, the first aid station). Riding with random people made the ride much more enjoyable. The few times I rode alone were the toughest. I lucked out on this ride on two fronts: one, I got a great sleep the night before, because I didn't bother setting my alarm (I had a later start than originally planned because morning was cold), and two, it was a relatively cold day, so I didn't bake in the sun. My legs felt amazing. Even with I was suffering up a 20% grade at 34rpm I had the mental fortitude to push on.

Despite the fatigue (I had a 448 TSScore on Saturday), I hit 1000+ watts at the end of the Tuesday night ride yesterday (I think that was the first time I hit 1000 watts this year, though the ride was slow on the flats) and also had some nice PRs on climbs (it used to be if I cracked the top 50 on a big climb that was really good; yesterday I got 25th on a 1.4 mile climb (5.8%) (and one of our strong riders got the KOM).

Anyway, Saturday's ride was a huge mental boost for me and I feel like I'm in a great mental state to start a new training block after sort of just doing maintenance / recovery volume the last 7 weeks. And I learned a lot in that prevailing time, but Saturday's ride went sooooo well, that I'm already biting at the bit to do another such ride. It feels good to be able to tackle big rides like this and actually enjoy them. Still don't have an idea of what kind of training plan I want to do. It's tempting to get a coach, but I can't really justify spending money on one.

Oh, I also did a road race on July 10th. A 43 mile cat 5 race. It went relatively well and some of the strong TNRers were there. I placed last of that bunch of course, but I had fun working together with other stragglers from the front group of the race. I ended up in 23rd out of like 47. It felt like a tough field for a cat 5, though.

I made a little recap video of the big Saturday ride:
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