Musings of an older cat5
I keep ruminating over training ideas, how to get faster, etc - as if somehow I could do something with it, as if I was 20 years old. Its funny really - I don't know my potential but somehow the idea to be the absolute best I can burns in me anyway. But my body cannot seem to recover from hard efforts- two harder rides a week and Im done, maybe even going backwards. Feels like a waste of time doing zone 2 on the trainer or elsewhere but I need it to recover!
So I think I came to a couple of conclusions re:training - Also need to take it less seriously I think :twitchy:
1. Best way to train for me seems to be to race, whether officially or by riding with a group of higher cat guys who tend to get aggro. Its way more fun than doing intervals, teaches me better riding skills and I seem to push myself hard as f@#% when I do this. I can't really race that much due to time and cost of gas but there are tons of fast team rides and group rides to choose from, no problems there.
2. I can only do #1 above at most twice a week - Im not sure if that will ever change but Im just going to have to hold it in and go easy the rest of the time or I will never recover and end up underperforming when I do attempt a hard ride - Apparently what I lack is patience! If it takes me 5 years to get to cat3(assuming its even possible) then thats just going to be when it happens, not sooner. Think I am better off just saving myself for races and killer grouprides and getting the most fun out of it that way - those will be my 'intervals' and the easy stuff will just be relaxation and time to recover from the hard stuff (and the stress of work life)
- I suspect I will get better results this way and have more fun.. Anyone here agree or have a different opinion?
no offense but by 'older' I mean 40.
There's a master's racing forum: Masters Racing (All Disciplines)
But 40 is not old. Go look at the 'how old were you when you started racing' thread.
How long have you been riding? Did you do any base miles before you started training hard? Are you following a training plan? Do you ever take rest days? Where do you live? What was winter like?
What you are describing (2 days of hard intervals, other days are easier) - is a pretty normal training schedule (some people do intervals more often, but not everyone, and I think it takes some years to get there).
Setting goals like "getting to cat 3" might be less motivating than "be the absolute best I can" - not everyone can upgrade.
Don't be discouraged, do try following an actual training plan, including the resting part, before you throw in the towel.
I don't think it's your age. I think it's the amount of base you have.
40 is not that old. At an extreme example Jens Voigt is 42, and puts in 21 hard days with only 2 off every July.
Personally, I was a Cat 5 at age 47 (admittedly the second time around) and am a Cat 3 at age 55.
I'll do multiple hard days together, and 4-5 hard days some weeks.
I have a teammate who upgraded from Cat 1 to Cat 2 at age 52.
And there are a number of older guys who post in this forum who are Cat 1's and past 50.
So age is not your limiter. It's about what you're trained for. My bet is at this point you may just need to put in a lot more miles. If you got a big base from the winter, it's easier to sustain a higher trianing load when the intensity starts in the spring. And if you have a base of many years of riding, it's easier to sustain a high training load.
It may be that given your current fitness, your training stress to recovery is right for what you can hadnle now. But if you want to reach your potential its going to take more than 2 days a week at some point.
I agree with Valygrl that following an actual training plan will help a lot. If you can afford it, and are inclined to put in the effort, buying a power meter and training with power would be helpful ( buy the book training and racing with power first). That will allow you to measure your training stress and cummulative trianing load, and figure out more precisely how much training load you can handle.
I agree that racing is a good interval type workout, meaning it motivates me to go much harder than I ever will in training, it's fun, and it's what attracts me to the sport. I race to do the best I can given what I have that day. Sometimes it's trying to hang in, other times it's trying to win, but my goals vary based on where I am in terms of bike and life. So when we had a 1 year old I did one lap of a race, got shelled, and I was totally happy stopping on the backstretch to say hi to the Missus who was carrying Junior.
The heaviest schedule I did recently was in 2009, I was 41. I would race Sunday (1 hour usually, plus warm up or whatever), hard (for me) 2.5 hour group ride Monday, race Tues (p123 training crit, 1 hour plus warm up), race Wed (3 hours on the bike, maybe 30 minutes racing, on the track, but it was 3 hours away so I got home at 1-2 AM). I'd take Thu off, Fri off if I wasn't racing Sat else a short spin like 30 min, and I'd do a short spin Sat like 30 min. I worked a pretty manual job so I had to physically work hard, the long drive on Wed was killer, and I was absolutely wiped out by the end of the summer. No kid at the time.
The following year I skipped the track (so no 6 hours of driving on Wed), did less group rides, and ended up upgrading to Cat 2 for the first time in my racing life (I'd been racing every season since I was 15). I was much fresher mid summer but definitely getting worn down by September. I did a "training camp" in Dec (1 week), Jan (2 weeks), April (1 week), and a training vacation in July? (1 week). I rode quite a bit on those trips, mainly easy JRA, jumps for fun and such.
Life stresses add up to tire you out. Long hours at work, kid, family obligations, they all add up. It's not just training load. Realistically I can do maybe 5-10 hours of training a week without much stress but add in taking care of Junior and that's down a bunch. I did 25 hours in January and that was a lot. In Feb, with race promoting coming up, I managed 14 or 15 hours. In March, with promoting races, the same 14 or 15 hours. In April I think I've done 5 or 6 hours. Last week I got in one training ride and it was 20 minutes long (and then I raced the next day for an hour).
In one training camp in SoCal, where I stay with a best friend (best man at my wedding) and his family, I did a 33 hour week. That was insane and that's the limit of my endurance if I have no other obligations, no kid, no wife, no job, no nothing, just riding and eating and sleeping.
For me the ideal schedule is race Sun, race Tues, and do maybe a ride on Fri, maybe race Sat. I'd want to race Wed if I could. Most of my races are an hour and I don't warm up or cool down much. With three races (Sun, Tue, Wed) and one training ride (Sat?) I'd be looking at maybe 5 hours a week and that would be great. 3 hours racing, 2 hours twiddling. Add a Sat race and it'd be 4 hours racing, 2 hours twiddling.
One othe point, a training plan that is going to produce results is going to be hard. You're going to have to do workouts on less than fresh legs, and sometimes you have to suffer through works outs when you're not recovered from the last workout or race.
Originally Posted by billh92109
The trick is know when pushing through when you feel spent is productive and when you need to rest.
Typical schedules are often set up on 4 week cycles where every fourth week is a rest week, because you're pushing progressively harder in the first 3 weeks of the cycle to the point you need to rest.
If you just rode 2 days hard each week, with essentially 5 rest or recovery days, you'd never need a rest week.
Originally Posted by billh92109
Bill - Sorry, I just had to get that out of the way. I'm 62, started racing last year.
valygrl poses good questions. If you've just started cycling, then doing intervals will leave you pretty knackered. One thing that she recommended - follow an actual training plan - is necessary, especially if you're not doing this and think that it's counterproductive. There are lots of free plans out there on the internet. Pick one and follow it. Read up on the theories behind it. It ain't rocket science, it just takes commitment. Just like anything else, if you don't know what you're doing and decide to wing it, results will be spotty.
It's good that you're doing the hard group rides, that's where you learn to deal with the close quarters that come in racing. If that and racing are all you want to do, go for it, just realize it's not the best way to train. None of us are getting paid for this.
I'm wondering about your recovery days. How do you quantify them as "easy?" Heart rate, power, perceived exertion? Also, if you get up early for work, work hard all day, and stay up every night to catch Letterman, you're going to stay tired. You might be going too hard on your easy days - that's common. If you don't feel guilty about going too slow on a recovery ride, you're doing it wrong. ;) If you've got kids and are involved in their lives, that involves stress too.
FWIW, my training weeks usually include a couple of hard days during the week, the team hammer ride on Saturday and some endurance miles on Sunday, the other days being recovery rides or days off.
hmm - will take into consideration thanks. part of the issue may be lack of periodization - doing the same stuff week to week and ending up feeling like I am just treading water. I can see what you are saying about pushing it harder for a set number of weeks and then backing it off at the end of the cycle. I have to consider that there are longer time frames of up/down in fitness than just day to day swings, and I haven't been using this to my advantage really at all. Last time I recall doing that last year when I would go m/w/f hard and the rest moderate/easy - it only would take two weeks to get to the point where I was falling asleep at my desk - but maybe that wasn't a bad thing, it just means the third week should have been a recovery week eh?
easy for me is usually Z2 HR wise. It tends to be easy to do on the trainer and almost impossible on the road as I get overly aggressive...I tend to take 1 or 2 days off each week usually. Yeah I guess even though I am sure I have read otherwise somehow I thought that the fatigue that I will get if I were to do a few hard rides a week *and* a tough group ride and endurance on a weekend was a bad thing - but yes I suppose thats how it works, then you recover during an easy week and start over.... Just had a hard time buying into it for some reason, but I did train that way in the fall for a few months and had some good speed gains...
I hear ya on the sleep and stress thing - thats been extremely difficult as of late so that doesn't help!
Bill - Recovery should be done in Z1. For context, I usually average ~100 bpm and 14 mph. That's what I mean when I say you should be going so slow you feel guilty.
ahh I see. So basically I'm not pushing myself into deep enough training fatigue over a few weeks and then when I do go easy to recover Im not going easy enough... I'll have to schedule something out that fixes this and see how I feel about it.
That's basically it. Most people have a tendency to go too hard when it's supposed to be easy, and too easy when it's supposed to be hard.
Originally Posted by billh92109
I'm a decade younger than you but I only do 1-2 really hard workouts a week, too. And my base is probably substantially larger than yours.
Originally Posted by billh92109
Don't underestimate the impact of Z2. I'd ride 18-19 hours a week of z1 and z2 and that's what gave me the base to really handle the really, really hard stuff. The stuff that makes you really fast.
But again, I have to limit that really fast stuff, as does everyone. Really killing it 3-4 times a week is rarely a good training program and is very hard to handle for any significant duration. You might get a way with it for a few weeks (and the bigger the base, the longer you can handle it), but eventually it'll be to your detriment unless you're just a super-freak of genetics.
Zone 2/easy rides are not a waste of time. They are essential. Start approaching them like you would a hard group ride and really get into the idea that these ARE helping your fitness. Might be easier to get a handle on, then.
I concur with the zone 2 and periodization advice, although increasing upto 10 hours a week is likely all you need - more if you really like that kind of thing. My advice for myself after long times off the bike and beginners is to take it slow to start. Work on your base 4 to 5 times a week with fun and varied rides, but keep your heart rate lowish. I never get my heart rate over 90% of max during my first 2 months back on the bike, and target something closer to 85% of max for one effort each ride - and no more, maybe even no efforts. The rest of the ride is zone 2, aka JRA (Just riding Around), it is good to push it to zone 3 here and there for fun. After 3 weeks of this I take a week off and do it again, but this time I might target a 90% effort once a ride, but no intervals or race level efforts.
After two months of this and slowing increasing my distances each week I am ready to have fun and start doing things that will really me help like intervals and/or races. But I always keep to the same schedule, ride hard 2 weeks, ride not at all or easy one week and make up the final week each month based on life, it keeps me feeling fresh and wanting to go harder when I do ride hard. My formula once the season starts and base is over is 2 or 3 interval/race rides per week, 1 endurance ride per week and 2 or 3 JRAs a week.
I am currently 43, but have been racing on and off for over 25 years ... and I would also agree with the idea that each person needs to find their niche, but that there are some basic rules (slow to start, take time off, go hard and have fun) we should all follow.
FWIW 40 isn't old. I started road racing at 44 and was doing Pro/1 NRC races by the time I was 48. I was doing structured training with a coach after around 5 races because I thought it would be the best way to improve quickly. The amount of improvement and how quickly it happened was pretty surprising to me.
The group rides/races as training isn't training. It's racing and doing group rides. It's going to the supermarket and grabbing random stuff off the shelves, then looking to see if there's anything healthy to eat in there. Yes, you will no doubt get something good, and there will be garbage as well. Structure and specificity will bring bigger physical improvements in a shorter time period. Add in racing and some instruction/tactics help and that's pretty much the magic fairy dust.
That said structured training is not for everyone for a wide swath of reasons. And just racing can leave people as clueless after 15 races as they were when they started.
That's good food for thought :p but in all seriousness, it's a great point. Most of my riding is on group rides. I rarely do any solo training. In my case, the group rides are with stronger riders so it's always challenging. This is my first year racing (at age 39) and really trying to get better on the bike so I'm still at the point where every ride is fun and the thought of doing more structured training doesn't appeal. I guess it's something to think for next season and beyond if I really want to improve.
Originally Posted by Racer Ex