Ask a FasCat #21
Ask a FasCat #21 is here. We have over 30 athlete submitted questions and FasCat Founder, Coach Frank gives us rapid fire answers. If you're ready to nerd out on data science of training and how to structure your training based on different scenarios, this is the episode for you. Plus, at the end of the episode we give away an Oura Ring to the best questions asked, so stay tuned to find out if YOUR answer won.
Question 1: Walter Knapp (1x1 Coached Athlete)
When you do a workout interval, the power for the interval is static (ie., 235W for 5 minutes or something like that). Is it better to move that wattage around a bit? I believe that "sweet spot" is a range for instance. So, is there an advantage or disadvantage to moving the wattage around (in a zone) during an interval like you naturally would outside?
A: Yes but No. Physiologically hitting target power will net you the same adaptations as the same workout using a range. The advantage to moving the power around is that it is more realistic to your real-world outdoor riding conditions.
Indoor power with dead flat steady power output is not real and oftentimes results in athletes unable to make micro power adjustments that hinders their ability to draft in a peloton and hold momentum over undulations in the terrain.
Corollary is that I've heard that using an indoor trainer is "better" and more efficient. Is the static wattage-hold the reason? If so, why?
A. In our experience, athletes can make MORE POWER outdoors and thus would be wise to get off the trainer and get outdoors where they can make greater power. More power during one’s Zones 4 > 5 & 6 intervals = greater physiological adaptations which translates to more POW-WAH. AKA ride faster!
Sure you can control the watts better indoors but learning how to do that outdoors is advantageous for your Strava segments and events. It is very important to remember you are only using indoor training to stay consistent for your outdoor goals!
Question 2: Orly Ramirez (Training Plan Athlete)
I’ve been using HRV data that I add to training peaks. I would like to see the metrics including HRV and CTL diagram a direct relationship. Also I would like to project my CTL based on HRV and physiological status ( well rested, mid or sores legs)
A. Heck yes, Orly! We would like to see those metrics, and innovations as well!! That’s why we’ve developed the technology to take your sleep and HRV data from your wearable like a Whoop or Oura and add it to your power data to tell you about your training to recovery balance. This will help you understand if you should keep following the plan or select an easier workout.
There’s more to recovery than your power data and that includes your sleep, your HRV and your nutrition. If you’ve been doing everything right, keep FtFP’ing. If life happens, we’re developing the technology to help you figure out what to do (and what not to do).
We are calling it Optimize and it will be in the app store very soon this Summer. We will let you know first here on the podcast. We’ve updated the 20-year-old Training Stress Score metric to factor in fatigue and carbohydrate consumption and developed the technology so users can integrate their wearable data with their power data for a complete 24/7/365 data visualization.
Power data captures a 2-hour ride (for example, Sleep captures 8 hours and HRV captures the remaining time for a 24/7/365 representative of your stress-recovery balance.
Question 3: Steve Hamilton (1x1 Coached Athlete)
Looking for food/nutrition options to make-ahead and take on longer rides (4-6 hours) that fit in a jersey pocket. can take bars, gels, blocks, but get “tired” of eating that after 3-4 hours. What about bread and peanut butter, tortilla and PB, tortilla PB/honey, etc…Options that are calorie dense, small, limit GI distress.
A: Steve - check out Allen Lim’s rice cake recipe - guaranteed not to bonk and they are tasty! The only thing is that you really have to make them fresh the night before. The good news is that once you make a batch or two it's not that big of a deal and only takes you 30 minutes or so.
I make them before my big gravel simulation rides that are 5-7 hours.
Question 4: Tim Cahhal (1x1 Coached Athlete & Brand Ambassador)
We train hard all winter, build the base, hammer the intervals, get our form dialed, rip the cranks off, then sit on the couch and watch the hard earned CTL plummet before doing it all again. Would you get into the physiological/psychological benefits of this torturous exercise when there is still a full calendar of events ahead?
A: Ah yes, we like to say, don’t get greedy with ye ‘ol CTL because what you really want to be paying attention to when it comes time to perform is your TSB - training stress balance.
CTL - ATL = TSB
So you build up with your CTL and that gives you the ability to make mack daddy power when you intentionally decrease your CTL which numerically means an increase in your TSB.
In layman's terms - a decrease in CTL comes from rest and we all know what happens when you rest after you’ve increased your CTL? Your power goes up and you may be ripping off the cranks!
Question 5: Patrick Merle (Training Plan Athlete)
Based on the assumption that a happy cyclist is a faster cyclist, can you potentially describe some key training sessions that would be beneficial and perceived as both fun and valuable? EX: you have a tempo session to do, ask your kid/partner to ride with you with an e-bike and you do a chase race etc.
A: Simplicity is Sophistication Patrick - and we use the data to make training simple not more complicated. A long ride is so so SO good for your training and you don’t even need to worry about intervals while doing so - We regularly use the long ride as a key session.
Spirited group rides fall under the same classification - good clean fun. By riding fast and having fun, you get in great organic VO2 and anaerobic and threshold intensity. Even sprinting which is actually better trained against others than alone bc you have the extra motivation to go harder!
As for an e-Bike - they make for great motorpacing. And I’m sure your spouse would love to turn the screws to you and watch you suffer!
Question 6: James Bohan (Training Plan Athlete)
When should you stand on hills? I’ve heard that is less efficient, but find it easier on steeper climbs. Also, how about short rises? Stand to power through them?
A. Yes, you should stand on hills - but not the whole time. For short rise - DEFinitely get up and out of the saddle to carry your momentum (speed) over the hill. It's much faster.
For longer sustained climbing alternative in and out of the saddle helps you hold a higher rhythm. This is why we have athletes do tempo and sweet spot bursts. The 5 second burst are performed out of the saddle to help you learn how to climb faster/ better. Even the diabolical threshold bursts. Stay seat for the interval except for the burst and an example workout is 3 x 10 minutes sweet spot with a 5 second burst out of the saddle every 2 minutes during the sweet spot interval
Question 7: Tommy Hogan (Training Plan Athlete)
When we record a low HRV reading, how do we decipher the data and decide whether to take a rest or continue to FTFP?
A. Great question Tommy - we are building this technology as mentioned above to tell you when to take a rest and not FtFP and when to continue to FtFP. Our algorithm takes your training from the day before, factors in the amount of sleep you got that night plus your HRV and every morning gives you your daily optimized score - If you are in the red you’ll be advised to take a recovery day. If you are optimized you’ll know to keep following your plan as designed!
Optimized will even tell you to train more if you have not been riding enough!
Question 8: Robert Loafman (Training Plan Athlete)
I started doing my zone 2 rides at 70% of heart rate this year. Previously, I would do them at 70% of ftp. I really like doing these by heart rate now. What are your thoughts on having the heart rate drift up slightly versus power drifting down slightly on endurance rides?
A. We like to have athletes do their zone 2 rides by heart rate for the same reasons - sometimes when the athlete hasn’t test recently or after illness or injury riding to FTP is not as accurate as to heart rate threshold. HR Threshold stays the same whereas FTP goes up and down.
When this is the case we advise athletes to hold HR steady and let power drift down slightly. This way when HR decouples from power the ride stays in zone 2 versus creeping up to tempo.
Question 9: Matt Bernard (Training Plan Athlete)
Any tips on training for the mental part of climbing/ going hard? On my trainer or during an interval, I can say only 5 minutes left. But in the real world you don’t always know how much longer the climb is or when you will have an opportunity to ease up/ recover.
What can you do mentally to prepare for these types of efforts?
A. The first thing that comes to mind, Matt - is to use Strava’s live segment feature so you know how long and how far you have to the top! Knowing how much further you have to go hard helps you to concentrate and suffer all the way to the top! I like to work backwards - 2 miles to go, 1 mile, 500 meters!
Hammerhead’s Karoo 2 computer will also do this for you with their predictive climbing feature.
Question 10: Steve Hamilton
If I train at sea level (or not elevation), but my event is at elevation (SBT GRVL) how can I best prepare, if at all? I recognize on race day my ftp/SS zone will be lower. Is arriving a few days prior enough?
Question 11: Joshua Orzech
What do I do between plans to maintain and inch up fitness between races or when not racing. How does the average Joe stay in shape to hammer the 3+hr Saturday and Sunday group rides (my weekend races)? Being human I imagine there still needs to be a build and a rest cycle to the season. Some combinations of Intervals on Tuesday, Sweet Spot, and Zone 2 on Wed, and Thursday, inching the fitness up throughout the season until potentially transitioning to a 6-week Interval Plan for a race or Winter Base building?
A. there’s a couple of different approaches you could talk here:
#1 is to get into an in-season plan which includes intervals and the appropriate amount of recovery so you can hammer your Sat/Sun group rides and or events.
The other approach is if you have an event that you are aiming for that is more than 8 weeks away, you want to increase your training load. In this case go back to building your base and doing that with sweet spot. You don’t need to go back to sweet spot part 1 but rather a part 3 or 4.
Sweet Spot part 4 is nice because it is a hybrid training method with long rides and/or long group rides on the weekend but has VO2’s during the week to raise your power. So you work on raising your threshold during the week and work on your training load (CTL) and endurance on the weekends. It is a nice in season training approach!Question 12: Brian (1x1 FasCat Athlete)
In 2020 my fitness had plateaued using a popular indoor training app, and I figured it was time to change my training. Tried your 16 weeks of sweet spot and BINGO I broke thru the plateau. The next year I doubled down on the FasCat approach and hired a coach.
In the last year, my resting HR has dropped 12bpm, and HRV appears to be in a more normal range and actually moves up and down in response to training. Figure it might be a good time to up my HRV game and give your new Optimize app some better data.
I’m looking for a wearable that I’ll actually wear night and day, and that quietly collects good data without setting a reminder to fire up and use an app. Hoping you can suggest a few wearables, and provide some insights on stuff like pros/cons, daily versus trending analysis, and how HRV data can better inform my now fairly well tuned feelings/RPE.
A. Get an Oura Ring and wear it 24/7 - that’s how its meant to be used and it collects data even when you sleep - so no waking up to take readings.
We actually have a Oura v Whoop v Garmin v Apple watch review coming out this summer but from my experience testing the oura and whoop and apple watch , Oura & Whoop produce the best sleep and HRV data. The apps and ways they calculate strain from exercise data is not good, tho. Which is one of the reasons we are developing OTS and Optimize.
That said pay attention to the raw sleep and HRV data from Oura & Whoop - and tread litely on HRV data from Garmin. Sleep data from the new OS9 looks promising and I *think* they may figure our HRV data soon. But not yet.Question 13: John Gerweck (Boulder Training Plan Athlete)
If you want a more accurate calculation of the standard 20-minute test - do a one-hour true TRUE field test. True 40k time trials are the gold standard.
The thing with 4dp is that it's complicated and I’ve never seen an athlete execute the protocol properly without a process of trial and error. Remember the 4dp protocol is essentially the old-school power profile testing we’ve been doing since 2004-5. The 4dp takes what we’ve been doing for 20 years with power profile testing and does an ok job and finding one’s ‘power profile’. The original power profile testing involved multiple-day testing, not all in one bout because it recognized fatigue between the 4 efforts would impact the result of the other efforts.
One other thing I’d like to mention is the over-emphasis of precise FTP testing. A 20-minute test is so nice bc if you truly go as hard as you can you can’t mess it up! Even if you over pace or blow up - average power fixes that. As long as you don’t quit I’ve used all sorts of field tests in the past. It does not have to be a dead flat plateau-shaped power curve.
Another example about the overemphasis on honing in on one single number. Say you test at 250 watts - that puts your threshold intervals between 98-104% and you do your threshold intervals between 245 - 260 watts.
Now say you test differently or another protocol at 242 watts - an 8-watt difference.. That puts your threshold intervals at 228 - 252w which overlaps with the other threshold by 7 watts.
And if you go as hard as you can by “feel” for your intervals which we preach - that corrects your day-to-day, week-to-week variances in FTP and any testing shortcomings.
It's so funny to me to see other platforms like TrainerRoad and System put all the time, money and effort into features that don’t really matter physiologically. There are only 3 zones physiologically, anyway!
I.e 3 metabolic pathways:
Guess they need to market features to keep users indoors on their platforms. I call it ‘feature not physiology’.
Get out there and go hard, test, get a good idea of your FTP and get on with the greater task at hand: which is your training and riding more.
A: There is a ton of evidence that short, high-intensity interval training can improve aerobic performance as measured by increases in VO2 Max or MLSS (essentially FTP), which should absolutely be beneficial for an event like an Ironman. And in one of the only studies I’ve seen using VO2, sprint interval training (30-second max efforts, in this case) DECREASED, not increased VO2. So I can’t see any reason that you should be afraid to include road racing or some high-intensity training in your preparation for an Ironman, and I don’t see any reason for a ‘hard stop’ on high-intensity.
On the other hand, frequent road racing (especially crits) and too much high-intensity work can get in the way of the volume you’ll need to be doing to prep for an Ironman, so this is probably ‘a little bit goes a long way’ territory.
Question 15: Josh Orzech (Training Plan Customer)
I’m just finishing up my Intermediate 30 Week Off Season Sweet Spot Base and heading into a taper. I opted to keep plugging-away at Sweet Spot with some added max VO2 intensity efforts during the weekend group rides for the mileage vs. switching to the higher intensity lower volume of the Road Race Interval plan.
What do I do between plans to maintain and even improve my fitness while I lollygag around in Summer. I plan on hitting our local 3 - 4+ hour Saturday and Sunday spirited group rides but then what to do the rest of the week. Maybe there’s room for a new training plan that just maintains a high base fitness in the summer when not racing.. maybe even some weights thrown in there for us old farts ;-)
A. Our sweet spot part 4 plan comes to mind because it balances your 3-4hr + group rides on the weekends with some high-powered VO2’s during the week. This plan will maintain your high fitness. We don't recommend squats and leg presses during the season but the strength and conditioning videos in our plans + the yoga help with your flexibility and core conditioning - but without adding fatigue like heavyweights in season can.
Have fun this Summer and set yourself up to lift weights starting this Fall as you set your sights on events in 2023.
Question 16: @Edrowell929
As more and more states legalize cannabis, what does the research say about how it affects endurance athletes? I’m not thinking of smoking cannabis, but of using edibles to promote sleep and decrease emotional stress.
A. I have not seen any research on marijuana improving endurance. I think if it did every Strava cyclist would turn into a stoner! While weed is legal it is still on WADA’s prohibited substances list in competition. Sorry to be a party pooper there!
For sleep and emotional stress, I’d try CBD - especially the CBN formulations that help with sleep. There are oils, tinctures and capsule’s without the THC and many athletes report being able to fall asleep better. Just about every brand has a CBN formula to try out.
Wana is the most well-established and predictable brand out there (ie the dose on the package is actually what’s in the gummies!).
Question 17: @Jamesstevens
I race in road (March-August) and cyclocross (Sept. -Dec.) events however I never seem to be able to be in peak race form for both disciplines. I see pro cyclists such as WVA and MDVP racing and winning year round.
How do cyclists who race in multiple disciplines train to peak at different times of the year?
A. WVA and MvDP are actually not good examples because they are just so naturally gifted. Most of their peers focus on one season in order to peak for their A events.
Nowadays for masters cyclocross athletes - the ones that are most successful at Nationals in December actually don’t race March thru August. They train methodically to peak for December instead.
We see this over and over with masters athletes racing March thru December and they never have time to do a good off season with weight lifting and building a big aerobic base.
Our advice to you is to pick one season or the other but not both.
Question 18: @Tgoods
I’ve been hearing some buzz around “critical power” vs. FTP. How does the Fascat coaching team view critical power vs. FTP?
A. Critical power curves are a great tool because they help athletes see predicted power outputs for various durations. For example, if your critical power curve helps you see your 3-minute power which is going to be much higher than your 20-minute power and higher than your 60-minute power - or traditional FTP.
Our new Optimized Training Stress (OTS) uses Critical Power to account for your fatigue beyond 2 hours which is small on the critical power curve but enough to incur greater stress in your body and such that should be accounted for numerically.
I like FTP for prescribing zone-based training because it's simple, comparable and based off a percentage.
Question 19: @Lloydy71
I started the year doing the 16-week Sweet Spot plan, I’ve now moved on to the climbing plan and I am going to follow this with the Haute Route plan. At present my FTP is 244w. My question is what power should I be targeting over the climbs based on FTP?
A. 240 - 254 watts which is 98 - 104% of your 244 FTP but also go by feel. You may have improved since the last test and I’d hate for you to underperform by training by numbers. 98-104% covers what you can climb at and sustain for 10 - 60 minutes.
Bear in mind when you get tired you may not be able to do 240 - 254 especially on the 3rd or 4th climb and on stages 2 & 3 compared to the first day.
For me, in my experience doing the Haute Routes - the fatigue was so high after the first few climbs and stages that I could no longer do my zone 4 power and was just climbing by feel. Point is - don’t go by your numbers verbatim once fatigue sets in and you will get fatigued!
Question 20: Simon
I have a question about nutrition specifically for evening (after work) rides. During the winter I can finish work at 4:30, jump on the turbo by 5 and get a 1:30 workout done. Now the summer is here, we’re starting up with evening outdoor rides,
should I be eating before the evening rides, or after? Lunch is normally a salad with a couple falafel and some nachos/crisps with tea being the main meal. Should I switch it up to have a bigger lunch and lighter tea?
A. Ideally a bigger lunch and smaller post-ride snack are best for 1) fueling your ride (salad and falafel at lunch may not be enough for a hard 2.5-hour ride), 2) recovering from your ride (a high-carb snack post-ride would be perfect - a small sandwich perhaps?), and 3) sleep - it’s impossible to get quality sleep if the body is digesting - which is an exothermic, energetic process and will not allow the core temperature to lower as needed. Have a light but carb-rich snack post-ride for the best recovery and quality sleep.
Question 21: @Grindgravel
What is the best way to break the cycle of a terrible diet? I often find myself stressed out at work with 20-30 minutes to grab something quick and fall into the easy pizza, burger, taco comfort food trap. I’m also often finding myself craving these foods, or ice cream, chocolate etc… Despite the feelings of guilt and shame after eating them, and knowing I am killing any gains, I still can’t break the vicious cycle.
A. Ask yourself what would Alaphilippe do and plan your lunches ahead by packing them. There’s nothing faster than bringing your own lunch when you have 20-30 minutes. Do your meal prep Mondays and grocery shop Sundays as per our meal plans, and skip eating out. That ruins you and cuts into your bike parts budget! You have to treat your nutrition just like you’re on the bike training and a little planning goes a long way. Pack your lunch and also win in the grocery store by not buying any ice cream or chocolate because what does not come home cannot go in your mouth.
We give you all the instructions, recipes and grocery shop lists in both our intro meal plan as well as our weight loss meal plan. WWAD - What Would Alaphilippe Do.
Question 22: @Humunuku (Training Plan Customer)
I’d like to hear about mid-season breaks. How to determine if you need to take one, the timing for when you take them, how long they should be, do you do any exercise at all or just sit on the beach, and after it, how should you dive back into training (go back to less intense and more volume, or dive right back into high intensity).
A. A lot of determining if you should take one or not depends on your timing. If you have only 7-9 weeks left until the end of the season you may not want to take a mid-season break. If you have 3-5 months until the end of the season you should DEFinitely take a mid-season break. We have a wonderful video training tip about mid-season breaks.
Mid-season breaks come in all sizes and shapes. Can be sipping Mai Thais on the beach or not riding for a 3-4 day block. Or you could do a full week and only ride twice. There are no rules really - only to come off the break recovered mentally and physically and most importantly hungry to get back to training and racing afterward.
I would not dive back into high-intensity post-mid-season break until after you’ve built back up your base. This is how the sweet spot was invented by me back in 2005 when I first described it in a training tip on Pez Cycling News.
How much base to build back up depends on the timing of your 2nd A event in the 2nd half of the season. Generally, do some base and don’t skip the intensity. It's individual and you may find a little bit of intensity from group rides and/or races is enough when layered onto easy base rides.
Use the performance manager chart to manage how much base to build back up and when you can back off to focus on high intensity.
Question 23: @Cofffffey
What is the best way to factor ‘life stress’ into training and recovery?
Beyond the obvious physical fatigue training fatigue, I’m wondering how PE, mood, HRV and sleep quality tracking metrics can be applied to assess when one might reduce intensity and increase recovery, and for what duration.
A. Use Optimize as soon as we finish building it out because it takes into account all 24 hours of the day - not just the 2 hours you rode that’s captured by your ride data. Definitely use a wearable. Whoop and Oura produce the best data but concentrate on the raw data outputs, sleep and HRV. Don’t get into their versions in the apps of strain and such - they are not very good.
Optimize will combine your Optimized training score with your sleep and HRV data to tell you your stress-recovery balance and if and how you should adjust your training plan downstream.
Life stress is captured pretty well with HRV and sometimes sleep - pay attention to those metrics plus how your legs are feeling and we think you’ll have a pretty good understanding of what to do when ‘life happens’.
Also, a lot of times you should not adjust your training plan just because you are a little tired or ‘in the red’ - Optimize is going to fix that. There are times when you should harden up and FtFP or other times when the body is telling you to rest or train easier.
Question 24: @Bethanyaebli (Training Plan Customer)
If you’re at a group ride and not getting a good workout by sitting in, but when you get to the front you’re pushing way over your watts required and can’t sit there for a long time what should you do?
A. Whenever you do group rides you don’t need to be looking at watts. Ride at the front and if it's too hard try the 2nd or 3rd or 4th wheel and see if the draft doesn’t help a little bit. If you need a break, drift back and draft longer and more.
To maximize sleep recovery (increasing deep sleep particularly) do you suggest getting a cooling sleeping pad, adding supplements such as magnesium or adding sleepy time tea or cherry juice before bed?
A. You can try the supplements and see if they help but a nice cool completely dark quiet room is the best. Ideally 65-68 degrees for good restful deep sleep.
Try meditation and/or yoga to help calm the mind and not be thinking too much when you are trying to fall asleep OR worse if you wake up in the night.
If you’re able to cool your room you don't need to buy an expensive cooling sleep pad but if not that could be a reason to consider such a purchase.
Sleepytime tea is good as well as Kava Kava tea and Valerian tea. Try some lavender oil too.
Avoid screens 1 hour prior to bed - a good book is nice. Also a consistent bedtime with a bedtime routine. I also find turning down the lights low helps.
Question 25: @Ctmac58
I am not a small rider - though I have lost 115 lbs my weight is still 215 lbs. I am in my 3rd season of riding and put in over 300 miles weekly. I am also 63 and it seems much of your training is designed for younger athletes. Is anything available for older riders looking to improve?
A. Our basic and intermediate plans plus 1x1 coaching are for master's level athletes. We just helped several 60+ athletes complete the Unbound Gravel 200.
Congrats on your weight loss - if you are riding 300 miles a week that’s what? 15-16 hours per week at 18-20 mph - that’s awesome, you could definitely handle an intermediate level plan - the amount of recovery we’ve built-in is just right for the amount of training us 50+ athletes can handle
Question 26: @BobbyStemper
Have you ever seen athletes lose their love for and enjoyment of the sport of cycling in pursuit of racing accolades or overtraining? If so, are there similar causes and thus warning signs athletes can look for?
A. More than you would think Bobby! Think it all comes down to FUN. Even for the pro’s. The moment you stop loving the bike and stop having fun, there’s a countdown timer. I think a lot of young cyclists are in such a rush to accelerate improvement as fast as possible they stop having fun. When in fact if they can back up realize that even the best, most methodical training is going to take 4 or 5 years to reach the elites, that gives them time to sprinkle in the fun in their weekly and monthly training.
The same goes for amateurs - they hire a coach and put this pressure on themselves to achieve their goal in 9 months or less and it sucks the fun right outta the sport they love. Obviously, we’re big fans of athletes hiring coaches and selecting big goals but we also are able to help with timeless for achieving them! Say Bob wants to finish the Unbound 200 or Mike wants to win masters nationals. Each having never competed in the event. As their coach, I’d work with them to set smaller intermediate goals that are necessary steps in order to achieve the end goal AND establish a 3-year goal. Ride the 100 in year 1, ride the 200 in year 2 and go back in year 3 in case they don’t finish year 2.
Question 27: @Jcamm195
The last two seasons many athletes did not experience the usual yearly cold and did not need to modify training plans for a day, days or week of sickness. When an athlete comes down with a cold, stomach bug or another mild sickness how should a training plan be modified? If training days are missed should they be made up? If a week is missed should the plan be pushed back?
A. This is the million-dollar ‘it depends’ Jcamm. The training plan should definitely be modified once you’ve gotten sick. There should be a ‘comeback’ zone 2 phase while you get your strength back and then having your coach closely monitor your day-to-day feelings/sensations/health and adjust back appropriately. Depending on the length of time you were sick, your coach may go back and repeat phases or not based on the timing of your goals. There’s a whole art and science and this is one of the biggest benefits to having a 1x1 coach!
Question 28: @rolando.farrach
How often is a recovery week required during training? Does the frequency of a recovery week vary depending on the discipline or timing of a race? How does it differ from tapering?
A. Generally every 4 weeks: so 3 weeks “on” and 1 week ‘off’ but that can vary in a custom training plan design due to non-cycling vacations, work trips, injuries/forced time off the bike, and even when your events happen. IOW you can do 2 weeks on and not quite a week off. So yes, the frequency may vary. You can do a big giant training block and the appropriate rest block depending on the size of the training block.
Question 29: @alex.maslar
Last year, I was dedicated to a training plan. I was really motivated, and looked forward to my workouts every day. I felt like I was in the best shape of my life and I loved being on the bike. However, over the past 6 months, I’ve fallen off almost entirely. I don’t even know where to start again and feel like motivation is lacking because I’m so far behind from where I was last year. I’m also confused on what part of the training cycle to start on.
For an athlete in my position who hasn’t followed the traditional training cycle (base, build, etc), what do you recommend at this point in the year? I’d like to get back to where I was, and understand that might take a while.
A. Sorry about that Alex. The best thing you can do is start riding again, one day at a time. Find your mojo, and commit to your self-improvement. It really doesn’t matter what training cycle you start back in bc you are in the ‘need to ride more phase’. If you ride more for 3-4-5-6 weeks you’ll be able to get back in the groove. I do suggest our six-week to sweet spot part 1 plan.
So Ride More than you have been, have fun, get on a plan like one of our sweet spot plans and start following it. You may even choose an event plan - adjust your goals to be modest relative to not having been riding much lately but use that event for motivation and fun and as a SPRINGBOARD to getting back in the groove for 2023. And then get back into the traditional 30 weeks off-season with weights and sweet spot base.
Question 30: @Crobbins0301
Unfortunately at my first “A” race for this year (Unbound 100) I ended up crashing out and sustaining a few injuries that are going to keep me off the bike for a few weeks. I am wondering how I (or any athlete) should approach training when returning from an injury? I can’t wait to get back on the bike and keep training but I don’t want to over-do it when I return or return too early and prohibit myself from healing 100%.
For the sake of the question, let’s assume that I’ve been medically cleared by a doctor so we can avoid the issue of not being able to give medical advice.For additional context, my injuries are 6 stitches to the knee, bruised ribs, & a lot of road rash.
A. Slow and gradual at first like 1 hour spins but then based on how you are feeling adjust upwards. The worst thing you can do is jump right back into the deep end with full-blown training.
For example with your stitches and road rash - 1-2 hours may be just right initially but 3-5 5 hours may not. Similarly, you can be productive with 1-2 hour rides initially, and then as your body heals you can add on more time and intensity. Think of your comeback plan as progressive but based on what your body is reporting back to you - aka how are you feeling. If anything hurts, stop. Take it slow and methodical and let your injuries not hurt be your guide.
Question 31: @Freewheel_2
I have dabbled with a structured workout using a generic plan on Zwift and did feel that I made some gains, but also learned a lot about my limits, power at different cadences and just how hard I can push myself. I am tempted to take the leap into a more complete training plan. If I don’t have an event ride or race, does it make sense to do a structured training plan? What happens when the 6 or 12 weeks are up? Do I stop or do I repeat?
A. Yes, it absolutely makes sense to follow a structured plan in order to improve. When you follow a plan for an extended period of time you achieve one of the biggest fundamentals of endurance training and that’s consistency.
Improvement is fun and fun is motivating and the more fun you have generally the more you’ll improve. Having a plan to follow will help you with that! You may want to ride faster on Zwift or outside with your friends and a training plan will 100% help you ride faster and maybe even beat your friends.
Question 32: @Redzilla
I’ve recently switched from Base to Race with your Road Race and Crit interval 6-week plan. Loving the variety and sensation in the legs these past 2.5 weeks. I can see and feel those improvements already, setting a new 5-minute power PR today in the VO2 5 Minutes session. However, I am noticing my weight beginning to creep up and wondered if you had any tips for the Race period feeding, managing weight while growing that power now my base volume has come down.
A. Hey Anthony - this happens to a lot of athletes as they switch from high volume riding to lower volume more intense training. When you are riding higher volume, 3-4-5 hour rides you’re burning way more calories than shorter intense 1-2 hour rides. And oftentimes the weight does creep back up.
#1 don’t worry about it as your power benefits from tons of carbs and calories to build muscle and fuel recovery. More recovery = more training, more adaptations and ultimately more power output.
While your weight may be creeping up it's likely your power to weight ratio is still increasing due to the increase in your power.
#2 Pay attention to your kiloJoules from your power data. 1 kJ = 1 calorie of food roughly. Calculate your total daily caloric needs and match your intake to that as opposed to eating as you were with your high volume, high kJ rides.
See our “use your powermeter for weight loss training tip”
#3 Pay attention to your nutrition, particularly win-in-the-kitchen with healthy, go-fast food choices: lots of leafy greens and vegetables along with lean cuts of protein and don’t skimp on the carbs. Check out our meal plans for more help on exactly what to eat for all 3 meals and snacks each day.
Question 33: @Cat5Moose
Can we talk more about setting goals which aren’t based on podiums? For example, going Cat 5 bottom pack to mid, or mid/top pack to Cat 4? It seems like most goals are based around metrics and ideas which may be too aspirational at times.
A. Yea absolutely - goals should be yours not someone else's. Getting your cat 4 or cat 3 or cat 2 upgrade is a great goal. Not only do you have to increase your power and fitness but you also have to improve your race craft. Such as:
Strategy and tactics, draft and pack positioning plus your finishing speed. I think having fun along the way is super important too!
One way to think about your category upgrade is to choose 3 races which play into your strengths and shoot for top 20 or top ten results. Because upgrades are based on points. Think not how you are going to win but how you will get a placing and go for it. You may also do even better!
Also - race your weakness (but have fun). All races are a good time to hone your race craft and learn from experience. Don’t be the racer that only races 4 times a season. Give yourself time and patience to hit your goals. Like, don’t say “by the end of the season”. Set long-term goals rather than short-term ones - use those merely as stepping stones towards the bigger goals. Hope that helps!
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