Plateaued and Floundering

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by retrograde, May 8, 2006.

  1. retrograde

    retrograde New Member

    Feb 13, 2006
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    For a while things were progressing nicely. But in looking at my ride data from the past month, it's pretty clear that I've hit a plateau and need to change something to bust out of my current rut. In years past, I've oftentimes felt there were periods where my cycling fitness stalled, but this year as I'm using a power meter, the plateau is certainly evident.

    When it comes to hitting a plateau, I know I'm not alone. What do other riders do when they feel they aren't progressing toward their goals? I'd appreciate any 'rut-busting' prescriptions, or tips to overcoming my current hurdle.

    My training week has become pretty routine (see below), so I'm open to doing something completely different.

    As background, here's what I'm seeing:

    My peak power (5 sec, 1 min, 5 min and 20 min) hasn't changed that significantly in the past three months. In looking at the 'peaks' for these durations over past few months I'm actually stunned at how consistent they are. For example, my March, April and May 5 min peak power marks are all within a percentage point of one another.

    Even though my power numbers haven't increased, my endurance, 'repeatability' and recovery (within the ride and day-to-day) has improved markedly. My spin is better as is power on the flats (most 'peaks' recorded while climbing at <80 rpm).

    Put another way, my training efforts so far have added a *lot* of matches to the matchbook, but the individual matches aren't burning any hotter.

    At least for March, the 'peaks' put down then happened when motivation, rest, weather and everything else came together to make for a few strong days in the saddle. Today, I can routinely match the standards set back then but haven't had any sort of breakthrough ride where I kick out a new set of numbers, eclipsing the old ones.

    Training this year has averaged 10-15 hours/week, 175-250 miles, 650-850 TSS points with an IF ~0.82. Typical week consists of solo rides Tu-W-Th (two days 'sweet spot' or FTP climbing, one day L5 [and beyond] intervals), a spirited group ride Saturday and finally a long, hard ride with one or two evenly-matched training buddies Sunday. I'm in SoCal, so I ride year-round, though volume for Oct-Nov was ~50% of what I'm riding right now. FWIW, I definitely don't think I'm ‘overtraining.’

    My power profile decidedly favors endurance. One minute power is a huge weakness, and the club rides confirm this.

    I plan on racing a few select events late this summer, mainly road races. I really was hoping to see a little more improvement to FTP before entering the fray, then doing some Tuesday night training races to help with one-minute power. I haven't raced road bikes before but did a lot of NORBA racing from 1992-95.

    Oh yeah, just to add to my frustration, I'm still trying to catch up to the fitness I had this time last year. While I didn't have a power meter last year, I did download all my Polar data and know my split times on all the local climbs at various RPEs. I'm close to where I was this time last year, but still lagging. And another year older. Ug.

  2. flapsupcleanup

    flapsupcleanup New Member

    Aug 14, 2004
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    Well, I am far from an expert but... a few weeks ago I could have written a post identical to yours. I felt like I had hit a plateau also. I was riding a lot, with plenty of rest thrown in. My power numbers seemed to be slightly increasing, but not by an appreciable amount. And my real measure of perfomance was a local Wed. group ride here. For week after week I would hang in and then about 80% thru the ride a big push would come and I would get dropped. Like clockwork. Actually, I had sort of resigned myself to sucking. Then, crazily 3 weeks ago, I didnt get dropped in the push! It felt like the group was just loafing but we got around the course quicker than I ever had. And since then in all the rides I have hung with the leaders and even whupped on them a little bit. So, since then I have been going nuts trying to figure out what I did to cause this improvement. Im still not confident I know what it was, but in the month previous I definitely had got more methodical at doing 2x20 L4 intervals. Before that, I didnt really do them because my thinking was that they werent painful enough to do any good. I had done lots of L5 and L6 work but not much L4. Sooo....

    And remember: Free advice. Worth every cent
  3. ric_stern/RST

    ric_stern/RST New Member

    Nov 11, 2002
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    Have you thought about coaching? While it's possible you may not improve with coaching, it's more likely that you will improve. At RST/ > 95% of the people we coach meet or exceed their goals and expectations.

    If you've got any questions about coaching, please feel free to email me at [email protected]

    If coaching isn't what you're after there's *lots* of threads about how to improve performance on this site, or if you ask some specific questions we'll be able to help.

  4. WarrenG

    WarrenG New Member

    Sep 8, 2003
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    You mention being weak for one minute and no real improvements lately.

    First, spend an hour or so each day learning more about training and physiology. After a few weeks you'll have learned many things that will help you.

    One of the ways to break out of a rut is to do some training that is different from what you're presently doing. The training stimulus should not be the same type week after week after week or you'll end up where you are now. Your body adapts to what you give it, so give it something new, and maybe harder at times, with a bit more rest between hard days. You may respond better by doing 2-3 days in a row really hard, and then 2-3 days of recovery.

    Pay more attention to your intensity during your 20' intervals. Some should be near the low end of the range you choose and some should be near the upper end of the range. Instead of 2x20's at your 40-60 minute power, try 3-4 x 8-12' at slightly higher power.

    To improve your ability for those one minute surges you can't just do one minute intervals unless you want to be better at one minute from complete rest. Try 4-5' at your 40 minute power, then sprint all out for 30 seconds, preferably on a slight hill. Rest only 4' and repeat for a total of 3-5 times. No more than once per week (unless you're peaking) when you're reasonably fresh. Use some lower L4 as a warmup.

    For your VO2max, if you've been doing 3 to 4 reps of 4-5' near your VO2max power, try doing 30 seconds on at 100 watts over this, then 30 seconds rest, repeat for a total of 4-7. Rest 4' and repeat, up to a total of 3 sets. Add to the power number as you can. As you get closer to peaking you can gradually get closer to 40 seconds on and 20 seconds off, but for a lower total number of reps.
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