Returning to Cycling After a Lengthy Break (~ 6 months)

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by GraceB, May 18, 2013.

  1. GraceB

    GraceB New Member

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    Hi all, I am back after a "little" break. I basically took October thru April off the bike and did very minimal cross training during that time (jogging 1-2 hours / week Jan thru April).

    I've been trying to gently increase my mileage (trying and gently are key words - my first ride out was with a group and red-lined for over 2 hours, in fact I was surprised I was able to maintain that intensity for that duration on my first real ride of the year). I'm limiting myself to one group ride per week. I "normally" push myself hard every ride and go on group rides 3-5 days / week, with TTs on the days I'm not killing myself in a group. My body is able to sustain, but maybe that's why I take such long breaks after the season because there hasn't been much intelligence put into my training, I've just done what's been fun, but I guess it burns me out by the end of the season. I tend to "start over" "from scratch" every spring. I did manage to drop my 15k times about 8 minutes on the same course over the past several years using this approach (up to ~ 23mph)! And I am hanging in with the long rides at ~ 20 mph (3-5 hour rides), but that's pretty close to my limit.

    So now I'm trying to approach things a little differently. I am doing most of my rides around ~ 15 mph, and I'm staying aerobic as much as possible. I'm still doing long rides, last Sunday I did a five hour ride, at about that 15mph average. I've been back training for about four weeks now and am ready to put some more structure into my riding and start training more consistently again.

    I have to admit, one of the downfalls of taking such time off, is seeing your riding buddies, who you usually ride with, and having to always excuse yourself from rides due to fitness. Am I doing the right thing in staying aerobic and focusing on building that fitness? Maybe I just need some encouragement. I want nothing more than to say "screw it" and go ride at whatever tempo I'd like, which would likely mean ~ anaerobic threshold multi hour rides, but riding with ppl that I know and am comfortable with. When should I put these "pushing it" rides in and how often should I do them? (These are the type of rides where I typically get into a mental space where I tend to quiet my common sense, is that good to do often??) This type of training has worked in increasing my fitness from "newbie" levels, but I want to think long term as well, and racing, whether TTs or Road Races or Crits or Cross aren't completely out of the question for the future. I think my gut is telling me to train in anticipation for the Cross season (even though I don't have a bike for it yet), and try to build intelligently, including doing base work right now.

    Anyway, any advice would be helpful. Thanks.
     
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  2. JibberJim

    JibberJim Member

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    I actually don't think it's worthwhile, unstructure riding that you enjoy is actually likely to get you the most bang for your buck in the early days of getting fitness, riding slowly is likely to just delay you getting it. To think long term all you really need to do is think about how you're going to avoid stopping riding, and not worry about how you get the fitness now.
     
  3. GraceB

    GraceB New Member

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    I'm progressing well. My average heart rate is about 20 beats lower than 3 weeks ago (max heart rate also about 15 beats lower) and today's ride was also 40km longer with slightly more elevation, but both on relatively flat loops (plus my average cadence is up). HR 20 beats lower and speed 1.5kph or so faster (or about 1mph faster). I'm up to over 5 hour rides after about 3 weeks of nonstructured training. The hardest part is time in the saddle, and being comfortable on the seat and with my feet etc.

    Tomorrow has a faster group ride on offer. Maybe I'll just go, because I do enjoy it. I'm also not training for anything in particular (other than running but that's another story). I'm just enjoying riding my bike. Riding all year is a challenge in Canada but I'm in a great community and there are programs on offer in the winter as well as the trusty trainer that I could be using! I guess Joe Friel's Training Bible, which I'm attempting to follow, does say one group ride a month is okay (where you don't monitor your pace so much).
     
  4. upstateSC-rider

    upstateSC-rider New Member

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    I was off the bike from mid-Oct to Mid-April also with only a few mtn bike rides sprinkled in, my first 2 or 3 rides hurt real bad. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif
    A few rides in the B groups let me know that I'm progressing, albeit slowly...I can't burn matches at will anymore, I'm basically building my base while everyone else is already up to speed so I'm just sitting in more than usual.
    It'll come back, have faith.
     
  5. GraceB

    GraceB New Member

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    Another post about returning to cycling - I've been back on the bike for about a month now, and have also been doing some jogging in between. I decided to start measuring my weight and my resting HR yesterday. Yesterday's RHR was 52, this morning my RHR is 44. Last August my RHR was around 42 .. so 2 beats higher means my fitness is better than I expected I think .. I wasn't surprised by the 52 yesterday since I do feel my fitness is not where it was .. but I am surprised by the 8 beat drop overnight? Also, my scale suggests I dropped 3 lbs since yesterday including 2 lb on body fat (it has the electrical impedances). Very odd this morning! Anyway, I'll continue to monitor my vitals, but curious about the sudden RHR drop, if anyone else has seen a drop like that? I'm sure that there's more than one possible explanation.
     
  6. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    Don't take sudden changes in physiological markers too seriously. Neither a day to day change in resting HR or in weight/BF mean very much. All of that can change for a lot of reasons including hydration.

    Look at trends over weeks and longer time periods and don't get excited or worried about day to day fluctuations.

    It's basically impossible to lose 3 pounds of actual weight in one day, that would be over 10,000 Calories of deficit which is nearly impossible in such a short time period. That and electrical impedance based body fat measurement is not the most reliable method and is highly dependent on hydration. It sounds like you sweated a ton yesterday and were a bit low on fluids this morning. I can easily see a three pound swing in body weight after a really hard and long indoor sweatfest session on the trainer but it's not real weight of muscle or fat, just water differences and indicates a need to rehydrate.

    Track longer term trends and don't get too caught up in day to day fluctuations.

    -Dave
     
  7. GraceB

    GraceB New Member

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    Yeah, the weight change didn't surprise me, I've had days like that before. The heart rate drop I thought was startling. I'll track it again tomorrow and see what happens with it. I don't even know what my current "normal" is yet.
     
  8. GraceB

    GraceB New Member

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    I just signed up for Premium over at TrainingPeaks.com. The day my HR was 52 the PMC gave me a TSB of -80. Perhaps the two co-relate??? LOL.

    With this PMC that I've just gotten set up I think it's going to provide me with motivation and the ability visually see my TSS. Maybe it'll even help motivate me not to completely take the winter off .. because I'll be able to visually track what's going on with my fitness. :p Three days later and my TSB is up to a more manageable -24.
     
  9. GraceB

    GraceB New Member

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    Wow I've spent the last couple of days updating my PMC and adding everything over from Strava and my Garmin. Last year my TBS reached -124 on May 24th so I guess this week I have a pattern of having a hole dug. The hole this year is not as deep and I'm excited about the possibility of managing my climb / descent in CTL with the use of this tool. Last year I got injured when I tried to increase my CTL by 12 in one week, I also know that I have increased by 9 / week before without getting sick (up until a base level, anyway) which is about what I'm averaging right now. But the tool allows for making sure I don't climb any faster than that. Neat!
     
  10. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    Say What???

    Something doesn't sound kosher there, perhaps your FTP was set too low or your ATL, CTL time constants were funky but TSB of -124 is crazy high.

    How big of a one day ride or short block of riding did you do to drive your ATL 124 points above your CTL? What sort of TSS were you recording during that period? I've seen a lot of files from folks doing mountainous one day double centuries, things like RAMROD, Triple Bypass, The Markleeville Death Ride, LOTOJA and various stage races and have never seen a TSB over -100 and rarely over -60. What sort of riding led up to that low of -124?

    Did you knock out some big rides at a time when your CTL was rock bottom and your ATL wasn't much above that 124 level? I suppose that's possible as I strongly suspect CTL doesn't ever really reach zero for all practical purposes for reasonably active folks who aren't on the bike.

    Anyway, something seems funky with the way you're driving the PMC tool. Are you estimating workout TSS or are you driving the tool with actual PM data?

    -Dave
     
  11. GraceB

    GraceB New Member

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    I'm using lab and field tested heart rate zones and a Garmin 500. I decided last May to train to ride my first century in July and set my sights on a sub five hour goal. My previous longest ride had been around 135k the year before. I actually hit -100 TSB four times between May and June last year with my lowest ever being -124. Perhaps my constants are not set correctly. I have put my ATL constant to 5, largely because I have lots of available time to train and am able to sleep 9-10 hours each night. Maybe my CTL constant is too short, but between Nov 2011 and Feb 2012 I did no active work, drove everywhere, etc. So three months complete rest. I only peaked once last year, but my event went perfectly, I met and exceeded my goal, and also had my fastest 15k TT of the year three days later, and was riding the hills with some local "racers" two weeks later, but then I cracked after trying to hold that peak after three weeks and got ill, I should have allowed for more recovery after my priority event. But anyway, CTL went from probably 20ish to 90 some in about two months. Maybe the system doesnt weigh the previous years fitness enough if you take a complete break. This is my fifth year cycling. Also, FWIW my TSB day of my century was + 30 some.
     
  12. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    Well if the tool works for you then great. But something is very fishy and it does make it hard to compare notes with others as those numbers are astronomical.

    FWIW, I wouldn't set the ATL constant to 5 for anyone that I've worked with including some young and fit Cat 1/2 racers. Maybe you bounce back from hard workouts much faster than others but that seems very short. For masters athletes I typically see good agreement between actual recovery from hard rides and PMC predictions with ATL constants in the 9 or 10 day range but YMMV.

    But again if you find the tool useful and understand the relative numbers it gives you then it doesn't really matter if it agrees with what others see.

    -Dave
     
  13. GraceB

    GraceB New Member

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    Well, its only been two days that I've been using the tool. I think it might be useful in helping me know when too much is too much. IE right now my TSB is hovering around -40, but I am doing a long ride tomorrow, the "just go out and ride" part of me wants to put in a 200k ride tomorrow, the "resolve to train more intelligently" part is ready to ride 125k tomorrow. That's the type of thing I used to do all the time that I am working on changing. Just finding this tool right now I think is great, I think it is going to help me know when "not to" do something. We can all probably endure any duration if the intensity is low enough, but how does that lead to progress and line up against scientifically proven "progressive overload" and similiar, what I call "intelligent training" models and principles. I've always followed "just go out and ride", and it works, to a point, like I said. I think using something like this will help me train a little bit smarter. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should, and all that. I find myself ramping up my CTL at the same rate as last year, but without the holes being as massive. This was all unmeasured until basically yesterday.
     
  14. GraceB

    GraceB New Member

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    Hi Dave,

    I just got home and so actually able to open up Training Peaks now.

    Per your advice, I changed my ATL constant to "10" and kept my CTS constant at "42". Here is the effect it had.

    My TSB on May 24 last year (lowest point) changed to -73.2, and that put the other dips (about 3) in the -55 to -60 range. I decided to ride the century on May 21st, so it was 3 days after that that my TSB dipped so low .. and obviously my motivation was sky high at that point. My CTL on May 13 was 37.3 and on May 24 it reached 71.4, but my CTL on May 2nd had been 48.6, so it was more "getting back on track" than anything. My CTL "peaked" at 102 on June 24, and I kept it in the high 90s for a couple of months. Maybe that makes more sense now?? Oh yeah, I was on the bike on May 23rd for 6hr12 with 38 minutes at threshold and 5 1/2 minutes at zone 5 (training ride with the "boys" .. who ended up winning the "Team Time Trial" competition that they had during the century btw lol). I guess that did it.

    Oh, also, changing the ATL Constant to "10" also shows my TSB on the day of the century at "19.5" instead of 30some. Maybe it is more accurate now.
     
  15. GraceB

    GraceB New Member

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    I think I have a plan. I'm going to spend the next three weeks recovering (so my TSB goes positive for a few days) and then aim for a more gradual rise of 5 CTL or so per week (with some periods of recovery / positive TSB). I think this will be a much more realistic long term approach (hopefully preventative of burn out). Thank you so much all for all the help and for allowing me to ramble on while I try and figure this stuff out. Loving the PMC.
     
  16. GraceB

    GraceB New Member

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    Continuing my diary .. here is what I'm learning.

    I peaked my fitness today with a bike ATL of 85.9 and a CTL of 41.5. So now I should let my ATL drop below my CTL for recovery (and my TSB to go positive, which has been a negative # since April 28)? That could take 2-3 weeks to recover from the deficit I've built. And it's okay, maybe even preferable to let the CTL drop a little bit during the recovery before putting another fitness push in? I guess I really just want to be healthy and able to continue at a steady rate and not burn myself out. My ability to do hard workouts is definitely higher than my current CTL, but I need to rebuild back with patience right?

    Am I on the right track or am I just thinking too much? At this point I'm looking at recovery until June 16th.
     
  17. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like you're over thinking things a bit.

    Steady gradual CTL climbing when building fitness is a good thing. You don't necessarily need to let your TSB go positive during periods like that or very often at all during a typical season. Yeah, it will tend to happen anyway when life gets in the way or when you do some shorter rides and easier rides for various reasons but you do not generally need to force it very often unless you've dug a huge training hole and are burning out badly and all signs point to the need for some forced rest.

    This past season while building from mid November through the start of racing in March my TSB stayed negative the entire time which was roughly fifteen straight weeks. Some weeks were harder than others and CTL ramp rate slowed during the easier weeks but I didn't actually have an ATL below my CTL during that entire time and was fine. But I also didn't load up massive weeks or do huge one day rides during that period but built steadily with a lot of solid riding. Sure there were some five or six hour days in there from time to time but no double centuries or huge days like you might have this time of year if you're really getting after it.

    Similarly I would hate to race an important event with a TSB of +20 or +30, that's way too much time off the bike prior to a ride I care about. I like to see a rising TSB approaching neutral or a small positive value like +5 or so or often a TSB that's dipping down again after getting a bit positive (what I think of as the early rest strategy) but then dropping with some openers rides to keep my legs spinning and to touch on some higher end systems before a key event. Too much rest can be as bad and sometimes worse than not enough rest.

    But overall your numbers seem a lot more reasonable with the longer ATL time constant. It still seems like you ramp very fast and maybe that just reflects the way you ride but what sort of TSS do you see on typical rides of what length and what do you see on big days?

    -Dave
     
  18. GraceB

    GraceB New Member

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    Thanks Dave. I really appreciate your advice.

    My coach (well, not working with him atm) put it this way: "I've never known x (me) to do half measures". I'm generally all in or all out. (When I started cycling I basically flew off the couch and into some of the hardest rides in the area .. that was in 2009 and did raise some eyebrows .. that's when my coach was working with me (he still gives me advice from time to time .. he didn't tell me to do that though, he just kinda watched me do it LOL).) I guess when it comes time to rest though .. well I have national level (Canadian) coaches and athletes (TTers mostly) telling me to rest, maybe I need to rest. That was last year well and the year before, maybe woulda done the year before that as well but I was injured.

    My highest TSS days this year have been in the 330-355 range (5hr range) and spaced out by a couple weeks apart. My highest TSS in the alternating weeks is around 220. I did one ride at about 300 TSS that was just thrown in and didn't follow this pattern. It is slightly more complicated because I also am managing running as well, but my current CTL with running is 12 and current ATL is 17 .. my running is no where near my cycling and I spend maybe 5x more time (and ATL/CTL) on cycling.

    In a typical week I'll rack up 600-650 TSS on cycling right now. And 100-150 TSS on running. (This week I'm up to 850 combined TSS but I am planning to take a recovery period now, I guess I need help on determining how long I should spend "recovering".) The intensity on my rides isn't super high but I have been adding in some L3 / L4, the first few weeks "back" was almost all L1 / L2 except for that first group ride I did.

    I guess my taper last year was over about 5 days going from a negative to +19.5 on the event day (+14 the day before). I knew I was going to be in way over my head (I started at the FRONT of a Gran Fondo event, like in the first 10 riders eeep but I was surrounded by "team mates" (of whom I'm the only girl although we had a guest MTBer who was super strong)). I was afraid, very afraid! But I hung with the lead group er "peloton" (it was a huge group!) for the first 40k. So anyway, I did put extra rest in just because of the fear, I think. (btw that ride scored a TSS of 376 .. and looking at my other rides my highest TSS last year was 535 and I had one ride at 465 in that same month (June last year), all my other rides of the year were under 400 TSS .. the 465 was back to back with a 385 TSS ride also (two consecutive centuries))

    My second bike ride of the entire year this year scored a 355 TSS (and all I was doing for exercise was a 1 mile almost daily jog before that). The big rides motivate me to start training, I don't know why I work that way.
     
  19. GraceB

    GraceB New Member

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    I have figured out how to upload images, I think. Thank you for this thread and the input, here are the results so far.

    Last Year:

    [​IMG]


    This year pre and post this forum and Training Peaks:

    [​IMG]


    I kinda noticed that I was doing the exact same thing as last year and well it "worked" last year and I achieved my goals, but I figured there has to be a better way. Does this plan look better?
     
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