3 weeks into general road plan and need some convincing that this is working

Hello all, 

I am three weeks into the sufferfest advanced road plan with strength. My concern is that the TSS is less than half of the training plans that I am used to. I know TSS is not the end all be all but less than half is a significant drop in volume/intensity. I understand that the intensity may be lower due to the strength training, but i don't think the strength training is really causing much fatigue - it is not too different from what I have done on other plans. I am concerned that I am going to go into next race season under-conditioned. Any coached want to chime in or cat 1,2,3 racers that have experience with the training plans?



  • Official comment

    Super valid question Michael, there are many points to unpack here, and I will do my best to keep those points concise.
    First, a couple of questions for you.
    1) What sort of training regime were you following before starting this plan? Was it another Sufferfest plan? Something from Zwoft/TrainerRoad?
    2) When you say that the SUF strength sessions are not too different from what you have done before, what does that entail? Were you completing similar moves for similar durations? Were you completing similar moves with heavier weights? The add on to that question is which level of strength training are you using, and did you start on session 1 week 1 of that progression?
    3) What are your ultimate goals, and where does this plan fall in the bigger year long picture relative to those goals?

    Without having answers to those, it's hard to give a definitive answer, but I will do my best.
    The training plans that integrate SUF Strength do have a reduced intensity level, particularly in the first 6 weeks, as that is the standard adaptation period to strength work. From the sounds of it, you have transitioned from another strength program into this one. In that case, you have already overcome the initial adaptation phase and would be able to handle a higher training load (either through higher intensity or higher volume).
    If you have more experience with lifting that is very similar to the SUF Strength program, then you could theoretically start in the second 12-week half of the strength plan, rather than in the first half. That would only be the case if you are experiencing zero soreness from the SUF strength and are therefore not seeing a decrease in on bike performance across all intensities.

    With the transition, from another training plan to this plan and the associated drop in TSS and volume, you have to look at the average intensity of that higher TSS plan you were following compared to the intensity of this current plan. TSS is heavily dependent on total volume and can easily increase by merely adding more hours to your weeks' training. While that is fine for some, we feel the composition of those hours is far more critical than the total number of hours. To add to this, unless you are wearing a heart rate monitor, or manually adding TSS values to the SUF Strength sessions you are completing, then the addition training stress from those sessions is not being accounted for, and would lead to seeing an artificially low CTL compared to only completing activities that automatically produce a TSS value via power/heart rate or pace (for running and swimming).

    Forgetting everything I have stated above, and everything you have seen in regards to metrics that can track chronic training load, we must consider how you are FEELING at the start and end of your rest weeks, and the start and end of your training blocks. If you got to the end of the first 3 week block in the plan, and had no fatigue, then you probably need to add more training volume. On the other hand, if you just barely scrape by to the start of a rest week, then you are probably overextending yourself, and the current training load you are giving your body is too much.
    While we have all these awesome metrics to track, ultimately they should only ever be used as rough guidelines. If you get to the end of a training block, and your TSB is -50, but you feel fine, then you shouldn't be basing your training decessions on TSB/CTL/ATL/TSS. Conversely, you can get to the end of a training block and are feeling absolutely smashed, but your TSB is still positive, that does not guarantee that your body still has more to give.

    Overall, it sounds like you are not feeling the fatigue you want too/should be feeling at the end of each training week. If that is the case, then adding extra volume would be okay to do, as long as you continue to hit the high-intensity days at 100%, and can continue to hit the strength sessions without issue. If you are not on the Intermediate Strength program and are not seeing decreased performance on the bike due to those sessions, then I would first recommend you jump up to the intermediate strength sessions. Again, I will say that TSS is more volume dependant than quality dependent, you can be preparing for a series of road races/criteriums, and have a significantly higher CTL by spending weeks and months doing lots of volume, but that does not necessarily mean you are ready for race season or competing at your best. Without high-quality structured work, it doesn't matter how high you can get your TSS, if you can't stick with the first series of high power attacks/surges, then your race is over before you are even within sight of the finish line.

    Hopefully, that gives you some of the answers you are looking for, and with more information from you, we can take a more in-depth look at what might need to change for you to ensure you hit your goals for the next 12 months.
    In the meantime, suffer on!

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  • I'm interested in the reply to this also as a B grade rider (don't have the Cat system where i live), as i have never been 100% confident that the general road plan would have enough in it to prepare for a road race season, especially beyond the initial 12 weeks, so lacking that trust i have used plans from another provider (TR).



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