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overtraining, plateauing, heart rate and output

Old 08-14-22, 09:23 PM
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mschwett 
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overtraining, plateauing, heart rate and output

i ride pretty consistently an average of 110-120 miles a week - my lowest week in the last 2 years is probably 80 miles and the highest 150 or maybe 160. typical pattern is every other day, occasionally skipping two and occasionally two days in a row, weekday rides 20-30 miles and weekend rides 40-80. most rides are about 75 feet per mile, and average speed has hovered around 16mph for most of the year.

i've only been riding seriously for a couple years now, and noticed very steady progress in power/speed/endurance over the first year or so. initial progress was followed by a solid plateau earlier this year, and although my rides got faster because i got a new bike, i more or less stopped getting stronger, with few bumps up on the strava power curve except in the 30 seconds to 5 minute range, and pretty much flat times on my most-repeated segments.

a few weeks ago, flat turned south/downwards, and average power on sustained segments has dropped perhaps 5%, with a corresponding drop in speed, although the route is windy enough that the drop in speed is less consistent or meaningful. a caveat to all of this is that i have a heart condition, take various meds, can't let my heart rate get above 135 or so (average for the segment referenced below ranges from 105-125), and have pretty significantly reduced left and right ventricular ejection fraction.

wierd cardiac limitations aside, is this what overtraining looks like? or is a drop of 5% in power over a few weeks more likely a fluke than anything else? subjectively, i enjoy the rides just as much and still do all the same rides, but i'm just putting down less power for the same effort. i am often sore the day after a ride, but not cripplingly so. for rides <40 miles, i don't eat or drink anything, but don't feel the need to.

here's data for one segment, a squashed loop (winds can be blocked on one side of the loop so it is somewhat variable), around 30 minutes in length with zero traffic impacts, no stop signs or stop lights, 6.8 miles and 800' of climbing. ends at the same elevation it starts. data shaded in grey is different bike, so the trendlines are split to account for the discontinuity of bike weight and different power meters. disregard the white shaded data on the left, it's not comparable. the total dataset is 92 segment attempts.
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Old 08-15-22, 09:22 AM
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If you aren't drinking anything on a ride of more than 20 minutes duration then I'd have to strongly suggest that is a part of the problem.

And if you do any hard accelerations or climbs or just riding at a very high effort for long periods then carb replacement is a thing you need to consider too. Whether it's by what you eat or drink. And carb replacement needs to start very soon after the ride starts, IMO.
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Old 08-15-22, 09:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
If you aren't drinking anything on a ride of more than 20 minutes duration then I'd have to strongly suggest that is a part of the problem.

And if you do any hard accelerations or climbs or just riding at a very high effort for long periods then carb replacement is a thing you need to consider too. Whether it's by what you eat or drink. And carb replacement needs to start very soon after the ride starts, IMO.
hmmm thatís interesting, i had/have read that it wasnít an issue for most people on shorter rides, at least when riding in cool weather which is basically always here. worth a try although i wonder why it would have changed over the past few months?
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Old 08-15-22, 09:53 AM
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I think you also said that on the day after you don't feel spiffy. That too is a sign of not getting enough fluids. And deydration + work isn't a good thing for your heart muscle in general.
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Old 08-15-22, 09:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
I think you also said that on the day after you don't feel spiffy. That too is a sign of not getting enough fluids. And deydration + work isn't a good thing for your heart muscle in general.
my legs are almost always sore, but otherwise i feel great after anything less than a 60+ mile ride. refreshed and energetic.

for those longer rides i do hydrate and fuel, although not at the levels i hear discussed here.
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Old 08-15-22, 10:02 AM
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Your segment times decreased by 2 minutes while your average power also decreased by 3.5% by my eyeballs.

Sounds like you got a new power meter.

And you got faster.

Congrats
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Old 08-15-22, 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
Your segment times decreased by 2 minutes while your average power also decreased by 3.5% by my eyeballs.

Sounds like you got a new power meter.

And you got faster.

Congrats
haha! yes, i got a lighter bike with a new power meter. new bike definitely faster 😇

i was referring to the dropping power and increasing times at the far right, the last few weeks.
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Old 08-15-22, 10:24 AM
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Originally Posted by mschwett View Post
my legs are almost always sore,
Not sure that is normal but with the heart rate you're doing, the nice and cold climate, and you've been doing this for couple years now, your legs should no longer be getting sore during and after rides.

Either you're not getting enough recovery or something wrong with your nutrition or hydration during and after rides.
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Old 08-15-22, 03:27 PM
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First, solid post narrative with good data. And, IMO, 16 mph with 75 ft of climbing per mile is very solid riding. I cannot address the heart / HR limitations.

Over the years at BF, I have seen many posts such as this where a rider experiences a reduction in cycling performance either perceived or measured. And the typical responses are rest more, drink more, drink less, eat more protein, eat less protein and etc etc. And some of that may be true.

What is a fact is that cyclists i.e. endurance athletes build endurance over a period of time generally 6 months, plateaus and starts to get slower if the same training continues. So if someone has an event in June then training begins in January and may peak in June. After June, additional training may result in lower performance. If one wants 2 major events per year then a mid summer break is necessary and the build cycle commences again for a target date later in the year.

So someone that rides the same all year long will get a cyclical response to training whether they like it or not. And without proper training plans designed specifically for the rider and the goals, more than likely the rider just sort of plateaus and then wax and wain over time.

Continual improvement over time requires dedication to a plan with lots of feedback, technical adjustments and mastering of new techniques and it requires doing a lot of different things to shock the body through the plateaus to the next level.
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Old 08-15-22, 04:04 PM
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Originally Posted by mschwett View Post
haha! yes, i got a lighter bike with a new power meter. new bike definitely faster 😇

i was referring to the dropping power and increasing times at the far right, the last few weeks.
That is noise in a lousy trending software.

In your last 6 efforts, two are right at your average, two are quicker, and two are slower.

Take a couple days off, ride easy for two days and then repeat your segment. Your trend line will bend down. Essentially, you have two somewhat poorer efforts in a row, your last two climbs. If you were overtrained, power loss would be much higher.
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Old 08-15-22, 04:12 PM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
That is noise in a lousy trending software.

In your last 6 efforts, two are right at your average, two are quicker, and two are slower.

Take a couple days off, ride easy for two days and then repeat your segment. Your trend line will bend down. Essentially, you have two somewhat poorer efforts in a row, your last two climbs. If you were overtrained, power loss would be much higher.
that's my plan currently. two days off then an easy ride and then see where i am with a full-effort effort.
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Old 08-15-22, 04:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
First, solid post narrative with good data. And, IMO, 16 mph with 75 ft of climbing per mile is very solid riding. I cannot address the heart / HR limitations.

Over the years at BF, I have seen many posts such as this where a rider experiences a reduction in cycling performance either perceived or measured. And the typical responses are rest more, drink more, drink less, eat more protein, eat less protein and etc etc. And some of that may be true.

What is a fact is that cyclists i.e. endurance athletes build endurance over a period of time generally 6 months, plateaus and starts to get slower if the same training continues. So if someone has an event in June then training begins in January and may peak in June. After June, additional training may result in lower performance. If one wants 2 major events per year then a mid summer break is necessary and the build cycle commences again for a target date later in the year.

So someone that rides the same all year long will get a cyclical response to training whether they like it or not. And without proper training plans designed specifically for the rider and the goals, more than likely the rider just sort of plateaus and then wax and wain over time.

Continual improvement over time requires dedication to a plan with lots of feedback, technical adjustments and mastering of new techniques and it requires doing a lot of different things to shock the body through the plateaus to the next level.
thank you for this reply, super interesting. so, if one just continues with the same thing forever, what is a reasonable magnitude of the waxing and waning over time? i am fine with that, but frankly always worry a little bit that a sustained drop in performance reflects some worsening of heart function.

green line in this chart is total mileage since jan 1 2021. pretty steady. the dip in average speed (red line, right axis) is not meaningful really, adding more hills, crowded paths in the summer, more lunchtime rides with traffic and lights.
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Old 08-15-22, 04:58 PM
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I would have no idea what the variation of power and speed are over a yearly or multi year cycle if one does the same thing over and over i.e. the same plan. I get it that you are concerned with your heart and that your heart may be causing the change. IMO, that is a discussion with your doctor.
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Old 08-15-22, 05:34 PM
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Overtraining is beating the crap out of yourself over a period of months without adequate rest and recovery that results in hormonal and enzyme imbalances that may take months to rebalance. And some cyclists I know beat the crap out of themselves and seem to go on for years with no ill effect.

So the other component of overtraining is genetics. IMO, getting slower due to fatigue is not overtraining per se.

If I had to give advice to someone that I do not know and I have not seen ride, would be to rest or go easy if fatigued or anything that looks odd in the metrics. Recovery does not make one slower.
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Old 08-15-22, 07:40 PM
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Thanks, useful perspective. My heart guys are excellent, but they’re better (world class) electricians than they are plumbers, and it’s hard to get a take on the latter beyond a yearly echo that never shows anything good
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Old 08-16-22, 05:50 AM
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Originally Posted by mschwett View Post
for those longer rides i do hydrate and fuel, although not at the levels i hear discussed here.
Don't sell yourself short on hydration and fueling. They make a huge difference on riding experience and comfort.

If somehow, you don't like bringing lots of fluids and fuel on rides, take a look at "carbo loading" and "hyper hydration". Plenty of articles out there on the internet

Inadequate fueling and hydration can cost you in recovery and may lead to effects similar to overtraining.
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Old 08-16-22, 06:46 AM
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A 20-30 mile ride in a cool area barely needs any hydration and certainly no fuel. Eating right before a 30 minute climb can actually hurt performance because blood that should be going to working muscles is sent to digest food.

I have a few worrisome heart issues, too. So, I get the concern about a 3-5% drop in power. Personally, I would never do a 30 minute hill climb test twice per week. I just could not do it. I do not test my fitness any more frequently than once per month. Why? It takes at least that long to see any improvement and secondly, you have to rest and be fresh to get a good accurate assessment and lastly, because these tests hurt.
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Old 08-16-22, 08:50 AM
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Any changes in weight or apparent muscularity? Just to eliminate that . . . If it were me, I'd do some sort of a training reset, say 4 weeks of only riding east to moderate, no hard efforts. Might be difficult in your area, but that's what gears are for.
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Old 08-16-22, 09:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Any changes in weight or apparent muscularity? Just to eliminate that . . . If it were me, I'd do some sort of a training reset, say 4 weeks of only riding east to moderate, no hard efforts. Might be difficult in your area, but that's what gears are for.
weight has been plus or minus a pound or two for maybe 6 months. legs seem about the same, hitting the same peaks on the power meter (1000w or so for a few seconds), they just seem to tire sooner and/or i get short of breath sooner.

itís hard to resist the urge to try and PR every climb or unbroken flat stretch. will have to work on easing off for a while, since i probably wonít change routes.
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Old 08-16-22, 09:16 AM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
A 20-30 mile ride in a cool area barely needs any hydration and certainly no fuel. Eating right before a 30 minute climb can actually hurt performance because blood that should be going to working muscles is sent to digest food.

I have a few worrisome heart issues, too. So, I get the concern about a 3-5% drop in power. Personally, I would never do a 30 minute hill climb test twice per week. I just could not do it. I do not test my fitness any more frequently than once per month. Why? It takes at least that long to see any improvement and secondly, you have to rest and be fresh to get a good accurate assessment and lastly, because these tests hurt.
iím probably not doing a good job of mixing regular efforts with all out efforts. i tend to think of only the really long rides as stressful, but last weekís result (the same ride four times, 22mi and 1800í) definitely suggests that i wasnít at my best by the third attempt, even without a ďbigĒ day in there.

i really dislike eating before a ride, both the full-ish feeling and the need to wait an hour or so. iím faster in the evening anyway, at which point i think my blood sugar is up high enough to not need any special efforts at all. unfortunately schedules and weather (strong winds after around 3pm) conspire to prevent any really big efforts on a typical afternoon.
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Old 08-16-22, 02:42 PM
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I probably missed something, but your first graph only has 18 data points for each plot between 4/1 and 7/1. Does that mean you only did 17 rides in a 3 month period? Or were there other rides that didn't include that segment you said the data came from?

I wouldn't show much improvement in any of my performance at that frequency of riding. And virtually all of my stats would be going in the wrong direction.


Never mind, I took the time to go back and read your op. So now I know the answer to my question. Sucks to be old and forgetful.

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Old 08-16-22, 03:25 PM
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OP mentioned medicines which can have an effect.

My pain mgt doctor recently put me on a medicine for neuro pain and it killed my power in an eye opening way. So, if the rest and retest isn't what is expected for time up the climb, try to think if you had a medicine change of one sort or another. Long shot but a possibiity
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Old 08-16-22, 03:33 PM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
OP mentioned medicines which can have an effect.

My pain mgt doctor recently put me on a medicine for neuro pain and it killed my power in an eye opening way. So, if the rest and retest isn't what is expected for time up the climb, try to think if you had a medicine change of one sort or another. Long shot but a possibiity
no changes super recently, around 9 months ago (i think) i added entresto, which is a combo of valsartan (an ARB) and Sacubitril (which is a neprilysin inhibitor). didn't notice much difference other than increased light-headedness when standing up abruptly. i do see a major difference depending on when i ride relative to taking my other meds - at peak efficacy, heart rate is stuck in the 110 range tops, which definitely slows me down. time of day relative to AM meds definitely causes some jitter in the data.
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Old 08-16-22, 09:19 PM
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Originally Posted by mschwett View Post
i really dislike eating before a ride, both the full-ish feeling and the need to wait an hour or so. iím faster in the evening anyway, at which point i think my blood sugar is up high enough to not need any special efforts at all. unfortunately schedules and weather (strong winds after around 3pm) conspire to prevent any really big efforts on a typical afternoon.
"Carbo loading" is basically taking big meals with lots of carbs the night before you ride (up to a few days prior if going for a big ride) and also at least few hours before the ride itself.

It's not eating a huge meal right before the ride itself. Closer to the ride, you can take in easily absorbed carbs like sugar.
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Old 08-17-22, 01:51 PM
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I don't put much into carb loading. At least not for a person that isn't riding a bike for a living and has a dietician, chef or someone that manages their complete dietary plan and coordinating that with a coach.

If you are going to ride the entire ride in HR zone 2, then likely no carbs are needed. Probably not even during the ride. However if most of your time is going to be HR zone 3 and 4 with some 5 mixed in, you'll be good if you just supplement with carbs while on the ride, either in your bottles or with gels, candy bars or such.

To me the more important thing when not riding is the 45 - 60 minutes after the ride when it's good to continue hydrating and also get carbohydrates along with some protein and that can also be in what you drink or eat.
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