I'm officially at a loss as to what is going on.

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by joroshiba, Apr 16, 2013.

  1. joroshiba

    joroshiba New Member

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    Alright basis of my conundrum is thus: I used to train mostly based on HR and PE and switched to power in December, along with firing my coach and starting to work with myself. Since then power numbers have gone up for L2 and L3, easier to push at those levels, L5 as well has gone up and my sprint power has gone up. However, I seem to be unable to improve my 20min power, but my HR at that power has dropped a LOT. I keep an eye on HR to check on fatigue and over the last couple weeks noted it was a bit flat so I took a rest week... came back and it is still as low as ever.

    More detail: Long L2 rides (4+ hours) when I started training with power were around 130w, and I could push 140w but it hurt a lot. Now I regularly do ~160w. (all average powers on fairly flat steady loops) Last week I did 6 hours @ 148w, NP of 185 on a hilly, variable ride. My best 5 minute power I could push when I was doing profiling stuff in December was 245w, and I can now hit 260w repeats for 5x5min, 280-290w for a single 5 min effort. My 20 minute efforts are remarkably stagnant though, I was doing 2x20's at 215w in December and now I can hit 220w. My HR for these efforts used to be ~177bpm and it today I did them at 164bpm. I've tried not looking at the power to see if I'm holding myself back and I've tried pacing based on HR. My legs just seem to die when I do the efforts any harder. It starts out feeling easy and at minute 5 or so it starts feeling like death, the legs start feeling heavy and around minute 10 I seem to just not be capable of pushing it anymore. Perceived exertion wise these are just as hard as they were before, but my the rest of my power profile has shifted up ~20-30w yet at 20 minutes I seem to just suck. I've been doing regular 2x20's as well, and mixing it up occasionally with longer work. I have hit NP for an hour higher than this as well, it seems oddly unique to doing extended sustained hard, steady work. (Did a race 2 weeks ago, 1.5 hours long until I flatted and NP for an hour during that race was 235w).

    The only explanation that I can really thing of is that I need to suck it up, but I've tried that and it doesn't seem to have worked. Maybe I just need to get better at sucking it up... but I'm also open to anyones guesses. This doesn't have to be power specific either: I'm getting faster at every time period except 20 minutes and I have no idea why. (Power just makes it easier to objectively see this) I also have a race with three passes up a 20ish minute climb coming up in a couple weeks so I guess I will get to see there if I really am just a wuss.

    And yes my power numbers sound low, I weigh 53kg at the moment.
     
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  2. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    Hard to say, but I wouldn't rule out the mental and pacing aspects. Twenty minute efforts at FTP are hard and take a lot of concentration to stay on task. Power progress in that time range also takes a lot of time. Most folks can see pretty rapid increases in 5 minute power with a few weeks of dedicated L5 sessions but it takes a lot longer to see much progress in FTP.

    You're also turning a bit over 4 w/kg for your better 20 minute intervals. That's nothing to sneeze at and you could have enough pre-power meter training under your belt that additional gains in that area are going to come more slowly. That's especially true if you're regularly doing a lot of the 4+ hour L2 rides as well as 5x5 L5 sets and not hitting L4 work as much as you might be on an SST/L4 focused program. I have no idea what you're doing or your overall goals so you could be doing exactly the right training for your needs but it could help explain why FTP gains as seen in 20 minute efforts seem so slow.

    If you're concerned or have identified 20 minute power or the implied FTP as your biggest near term need for improvement then I'd reduce the number of L5 sessions and the very long rides and do more days in either the SST to low L4 region (e.g. things like 3x20s or 1x60s at 85% to 90% of your current FTP) or longer Tempo/SST sessions (e.g. 2-3 hours targeting a lot of work in the 80% to 90% range when you hit open roads or sustained climbs). A steady diet of work like that tends to do more for FTP gain than a couple of gut busting 100% to 105% 20 minute intervals or a lot of L5 work. It still takes time but most folks can stay on plan long enough to see gains by doing a lot of work but backed off just enough that they can actually do a lot of work in that range. Of course if you have near term race needs for other energy systems then it's the typical tradeoff of near term goals vs long term progress and you'll have to pick and choose a bit.

    No easy answers but it doesn't hit me as surprising that you might see better power on very long rides where the PM may have encouraged you to pick things up a tad or for the 5 minute efforts where gains can be fairly quick yet not the key 20 to 60 minute stuff that takes a lot of time and a lot of work focusing on sustained near Threshold power.

    -Dave
     
  3. joroshiba

    joroshiba New Member

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    Thanks for the great reply Dave. I doubt/hope I'm close to any upper limits for FTP work, since I only started structured program for about 5 months (before this I rode maybe twice a week on average), before I took 9 weeks of coach mandated "not training" time. I definitely plan to try and hit the long hard stuff more, perhaps integrating in some more SST. I guess the thing that really mystifies me about all this is that my hr at L2 and L3 hasn't changed at all, and my HR at L5 responds similarly. It just seems as though there is a smaller difference between what an tempo ride and threshold ride are now and a larger difference between what an Vo2 interval and a threshold interval are, that and the large gap between my NP and what I can sustain for a given time period are. Perhaps I really do just need to work on the pain management.

    My program from december to march looked about like this, it is much more variable now as races change each week, some weeks are training only, some weeks I train through and keep riding miles after races, some weeks I prepare for more and go to in more primed condition. I simply have 0 time to ride Monday and thursday, unfortunately.
    Monday: Off
    Tuesday: 2x20 (sometimes 3x20 or 2x30 or 1x40)
    Wednesday: Longer L2/L3 ride (3-4 hrs)
    Thursday: Off
    Friday: 2x20 (sometimes 3x20 or 2x30 or 1x40)
    Saturday: L3 or SST work
    Sunday: L2 (4-6 hrs)
     
  4. RapDaddyo

    RapDaddyo Active Member

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    As we become more fit, HR is typically less than when we are unfit. Also, now that you have a PM, I think there is really only one good use of your HR meter. When you complete an L4 or L5 effort, the time it takes for your HR to decline to a typical resting pulse rate is a good measure of your fitness. When you are fit, your HR will drop quickly to a resting pulse rate. When you are unfit, it will decline much more slowly. There's not really anything else of value you can learn from your HR. As to your lack of apparent increase in your L4 power, I think it simply reflects a lack of focus on SST/L4. Once you start to log some major minutes at SST/L4, you will begin to see the benefits.
     
  5. frost

    frost New Member

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    When is the last time you rested properly?
     
  6. joroshiba

    joroshiba New Member

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    Frost: Last week. I rode twice last week, one short L2 ride and one set of intervals early in the week that made me decide to take a rest week.

    RapDaddyo: Based on my past experiences my HR at a given level has not changed in the past. It might change a bit based on weather and fatigue (when I'm fatigued can hit the same power at a lower HR). As I stated above my HR at all other PE/levels has stayed steady. I'm going to try and introduce some more SST work into my schedule.

    I will also look at doing a full out FTP test (I've been mainly just been using my 2x20's as an indicator to what is happening at FTP, training is testing), perhaps with the idea of going all out for one interval I will kick out something I didn't think I had in me.
     
  7. frost

    frost New Member

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    Ok, quite recently then /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif (and re-reading your original message you already seemed to mention it). The reason I asked was that I have had similar "stagnation/stall" a couple of times during this season. Longer intervals not going as I'd expect but HR really low and a feeling of not getting anything out of myself so that when I stopped the interval I could have started another one immediately but legs simply not giving more power. I got over by doing a couple of L5 workouts and resting a bit. But you already seem to have those options used.

    One thing is that the progress in fitness is not linear and sometimes you just have to be patient and keep up the basic work. But if the stagnation is really long then it might be worth trying to change the program, restructure as Dave suggests, maybe a few weeks of different volume (obviously reducing volume doesn't necessarily fit if your schedule doesn't allow peaking) and consider riding for a while without power and HR monitor.
     
  8. joroshiba

    joroshiba New Member

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    Ok no longer at a loss. Seems as though a combo of things were causing me issues. After suffering from some hamstring tightness after a long ride I decided to lower the saddle just a bit (6mm) which seems to have helped everything from feeling too tight after long sections of pushing hard. I did a 26k TT last week still didn't hit my previous HR targets but got much closer (173bpm) and hit 240w for ~24min. In my mountain climb RR this weekend I hit the climb at 250w for 20min the first time up and 235w the second time up. I did get faster, just needed to push a bit harder and make a slight fit adjustment.
     
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