Racing is bad for you - or is it?

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ft_critical
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Racing is bad for you - or is it?

Postby ft_critical » Fri Sep 02, 2016 8:07 pm

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Evening Coaching Staff....

From the above chart, I wonder:

• Is racing often form destructive? OR
• Does the Training Stress Balance (TSB) not account for intensity?

The Training Stress Scores (TSS) that are high are races – every week. There is then a medium endurance ride once a week and a specific session sprints or under-overs. Everything else is recovery – proper recovery.

It is said that, effective training has you negative Training Stress Balance (TSB [TBS in my chart sorry]) and a slightly rising Chronic Training Load (CTL). But as you can see my TSB is all over the place. With the stress of racing I just can’t ride hard enough through the week and keep it in the -20 ish area. The conclusion from this would be that the racing is too hard to be effective in building overall form. I guess this would be debunking the ‘old school’ ideas.

But, I would have to say, my racing is getting better not worse. I admit some of the other rides are increasingly of poor quality. My Tue endurance/group ride is often a death march. I would say I get only one effective (feel like I can complete it at target power, repetitions etc) session in per week other than racing - which seems inadequate.

So is TSB not really a good indicator? I think that TSS underestimates the intensity of some of the efforts. A three hour tempo ride and a one hour race with 30 min riding either side (only 2hrs in total) look the same in TSS terms. There is a thing called Intensity Factor IF (Normalised vs Average power) that does show that those two rides are different. Yet it is marginal. I think what is missing is a measure of time in zone 6 and 7. A hard race for me will see me 25% in Z7 (neuromuscular) but a long hard group ride is really only about 10% in that zone. I think it takes a lot longer to recover from this level of intensity than the TSB would have you believe. I think this is why I take so long to recover from each race.

Thanks for your insights,

FT

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Re: Racing is bad for you - or is it?

Postby foo on patrol » Sat Sep 03, 2016 7:31 am

I don't have any idea of all the techo stuff but racing is the best training you can have but you do need to taylor your weekly rides to suite it. Racing throws up more variables than normal training but that's my opinion. :wink:

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Re: Racing is bad for you - or is it?

Postby g-boaf » Sat Sep 03, 2016 12:22 pm

The trick is for your races to have the TSB near 0 or slightly above it for the races you really care about (the bigger ones). That's where you use the TSB prediction so you can taper off the training load in order to have the TSB where you want it for your race (so you'll hopefully feel fresh for that race).

I wouldn't try to keep the TSB at -20 or more, you'll probably feel like a zombie all week trying to do so. Just do your hard rides/training very hard, and the recovery rides very, very easy.

Maybe after your races you could benefit from doing a really easy 1-2 hour ride on a very flat route, staying in the small chain ring the whole time and keeping the power perhaps no higher than 130w. However you do it, there should be almost no resistance when you pedal, it should feel almost too easy. If you aren't doing that already, it might help. And make sure you get plenty of sleep - that's also important.

foo on patrol wrote:but you do need to taylor your weekly rides to suite it.


That's what the TSB is all about. You've described it fairly well. It's your training stress balance. That's how you balance what you do so that you don't end up on race day with heavy legs and lots of fatigue. I think you know the techo stuff fairly well, just not the acronyms. :)

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Re: Racing is bad for you - or is it?

Postby vander » Sat Sep 03, 2016 4:12 pm

I think its about structuring your week right. Choosing the right intervals to do on different days. Possibly choosing better races (some are a lot better than others). The guys that I have started coaching can often find it difficult to get enough TSS in a club crit so have to do extra efforts on either side. You are right in that the Z5+ stuff is very fatiguing. This is too simple a view to really see what is going on in your training. Too many people put too much emphasis on TSS-CTL-ATL when there is a fair bit more going on.

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Re: Racing is bad for you - or is it?

Postby ft_critical » Sun Sep 04, 2016 2:35 pm

g-boaf wrote:The trick is for your races to have the TSB near 0 or slightly above it for the races you really care about

Agree with the get fresh for your big races. My concern is that my TSB is jumping up to the high twenties on a Saturday before a race. Yet I don't feel that I can keep it lower and race effectively.
g-boaf wrote:I wouldn't try to keep the TSB at -20 or more, you'll probably feel like a zombie all week trying to do so. Just do your hard rides/training very hard, and the recovery rides very, very easy.

I can't keep it minus at all. 1hr recovery ride is at TSS 30 :oops: So It is super recovery. Some might say why bother? I found that if I don't keep doing the recovery rides my legs tied up and I got out of the cycling groove.

vander wrote:I think its about structuring your week right. Choosing the right intervals to do on different days. Possibly choosing better races (some are a lot better than others). The guys that I have started coaching can often find it difficult to get enough TSS in a club crit so have to do extra efforts on either side.

Agreed Vander. So where the races are not tough enough, I ride to and from. I also find this really helpful for my target ride of ~90km. Without the longer rides with intensity I suffer, e.g., cramps at the sprint.

vander wrote:You are right in that the Z5+ stuff is very fatiguing. This is too simple a view to really see what is going on in your training. Too many people put too much emphasis on TSS-CTL-ATL when there is a fair bit more going on.

And this is what I have been wondering. I hit the wall on my endurance ride last week. I just didn't want to be on the bike. Yet today at the Specialized Cup I was in excellent form. So is the whole TSB thing important? I am concerned it is showing that I am a bit weak if I can't back up racing and do some hard training (well more than one session) per week.

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Re: Racing is bad for you - or is it?

Postby g-boaf » Sun Sep 04, 2016 4:33 pm

It is fairly important.

But I think in something like Training Peaks you need to have the threshold value set correctly for the TSB to be worked out properly, otherwise it will give you strange numbers, like rides with huge TSS numbers, or rides with too low TSS numbers (depending on if threshold is set too low or too high). If those are out, the TSB won't be correct either.

Have you done a map or ftp test recently? Perhaps your threshold is set a bit too high and you are simply fatigued. A test might be useful if you haven't done one in a long while.

You might need to just have an easier week. You are racing alright, so that's a good sign, you aren't weak, more than likely you are a bit fatigued.

Other than that, pay attention to the amount of hours you are sleeping and the quality of sleep. That can affect things too.

Now, having TSB at 15-20 for a key race you are targeting is probably okay. Before your race, do your warmup as you always do, and you should be fine.

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Re: Racing is bad for you - or is it?

Postby vander » Sun Sep 04, 2016 11:43 pm

ft_critical wrote:I can't keep it minus at all. 1hr recovery ride is at TSS 30 :oops: So It is super recovery. Some might say why bother? I found that if I don't keep doing the recovery rides my legs tied up and I got out of the cycling groove.


This is common no issue with these rides. You can keep it minus maybe worthwhile just doing some endurance rides more often. Those riders that are up and down a lot as you are saying sometimes just need some endurance to flatten it out. If your goal is 3 months away I was stick a build -15 to -20 for a month or so by maybe upping that recovery ride to 2 hours at endurance clocking up 80TSS. Now this depends a bit on the time you have. Then you will find you might be able to handle more later on when the intensity is added.

ft_critical wrote:So where the races are not tough enough, I ride to and from. I also find this really helpful for my target ride of ~90km. Without the longer rides with intensity I suffer, e.g., cramps at the sprint.


Yep sounds great. What are you aiming for? If you are aiming for a 1hr crit you may not need much long rides I know guys that do very well in crit season with very minimal long rides, they cant ride a road race though. The same happens the other way around. Being goal specific helps.

ft_critical wrote:And this is what I have been wondering. I hit the wall on my endurance ride last week. I just didn't want to be on the bike. Yet today at the Specialized Cup I was in excellent form. So is the whole TSB thing important? I am concerned it is showing that I am a bit weak if I can't back up racing and do some hard training (well more than one session) per week.


Z5+ stuff may be being a bit too taxing I wouldnt do much more than 2 sessions a week with it (one may be a race). I find performance manager works less well at the very high intensities. Its not hard to do a NP buster by doing 30-30off for 20min x2 or similar. As G-Boaf said it is very important to have your FTP close but its impossible to get it perfect as it is so variable. The ability to backup is trainable too. As I said before this is just too small a snapshot to really see what is going on.

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Re: Racing is bad for you - or is it?

Postby g-boaf » Mon Sep 05, 2016 11:21 am

vander wrote:
ft_critical wrote:I can't keep it minus at all. 1hr recovery ride is at TSS 30 :oops: So It is super recovery. Some might say why bother? I found that if I don't keep doing the recovery rides my legs tied up and I got out of the cycling groove.


This is common no issue with these rides. You can keep it minus maybe worthwhile just doing some endurance rides more often. Those riders that are up and down a lot as you are saying sometimes just need some endurance to flatten it out. If your goal is 3 months away I was stick a build -15 to -20 for a month or so by maybe upping that recovery ride to 2 hours at endurance clocking up 80TSS. Now this depends a bit on the time you have. Then you will find you might be able to handle more later on when the intensity is added.


That's one decent point. You could make your recovery rides longer - you could try 3 or more hours if you want. It isn't uncommon. Although the all day sunrise to sunset ride I know that one rider would do is probably excessive.

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Re: Racing is bad for you - or is it?

Postby Strawburger » Tue Sep 06, 2016 9:10 am

Hey FT,

Just read this and what jumped out at me is your recovery ride being 1hr at 30TSS.

Mate, you're only spending 20mins of that hour in recovery, the rest is in other zones (30-40 mins in endurance zone at a guess).

1hr recovery ride should be 10 TSS! Every little TSS point counts in the overall picture.

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Re: Racing is bad for you - or is it?

Postby ft_critical » Tue Sep 06, 2016 8:55 pm

So thanks Vander, g-boaf and Strawburger. I experimented with changing all the values for the recovery rides to be greater, i.e., 80TSS. Didn't work. But it gave me the answer indirectly. It is amplitude that breaks the model.

If I reduce all the races by half in TSS terms it all evens out and I am in negative TSB for the most part.

So there you go. Racing doesn't work with the TSB model/performance management chart. This is more designed for even targeted training I guess.

Still doesn't answer the question as to whether racing is bad for raising overall fitness though.

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Re: Racing is bad for you - or is it?

Postby g-boaf » Wed Sep 07, 2016 7:18 am

Racing is fine. Within limits, there is only so much you can do before burnout.

I still think something fishy is going on with your data there. Having a race (or a really high intensity ride of any sort) shouldn't be doing what you are describing. If anything, the high TSS should be pushing you more into the red for TSB.

What app or software are you using for logging everything?

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Re: Racing is bad for you - or is it?

Postby Alex Simmons/RST » Wed Sep 07, 2016 6:51 pm

Improving racing is more than a matter of power output. But if you want to really take the next step up in form, you will need to consider prioritising your season and training accordingly. The constant race/recover mode will only get you so far. If however it's getting you where you want to be, then carry on.

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Re: Racing is bad for you - or is it?

Postby ft_critical » Fri Sep 09, 2016 3:55 pm

It seems to be getting me where I want. At the end of the day I really like racing everything else is kind of irrelevant. Well, I also like shooting the breeze with the crew after a group ride too, can't go without that.

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Re: Racing is bad for you - or is it?

Postby Ross » Mon Oct 03, 2016 9:47 am

I used to feel like ft_critical back when I was racing, but I never really crunched the numbers working out TSS etc. I just rode my bike, in hindsight probably too much and too hard. Then I had an injury that forced me off the bike for a few weeks and now I ride less kms and mostly less intensity and apart from enjoying riding more I find I'm a lot fresher now and reckon I still have ~90% strength and fitness and even get a few Strava PRs without really trying (Strava and other riding buddies are the only benchmarks I have now I don't race).

Very unscientific I know, Alex is probably rolling his eyes :roll: and muttering bad things under his breath about me :twisted:

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Re: Racing is bad for you - or is it?

Postby cerb » Tue Oct 11, 2016 12:45 pm

I'm fairly new to the various acronyms, but have been starting to pay attention to them over the past year.

From what I can tell, your CTL is gradually raising, which is a good thing because it allows you to improve and reach a peak at the end of a specific training block. You then need to taper a bit before your targetted event, to help bring your TSB back toward (or above) zero.

My understanding is that the taper does not necessarily need to be a reduction in intensity, only in TSS. Personally, if I drop my intensity (high power output sessions) too much but maintain the same TSS, then my legs don't feel as capable of pushing the high power. As such, you can still do a high intensity factor to keep the legs sharp, but keep the ride shorter to reduce overall TSS and help bring your TSB back up.

With regard to the intensity factors (IF), this is part of calculating the TSS for any ride. The following numbers are entirely made up, but:
- A 1h ride with <10 intervals of 1min each, but at 1.6xFTP (anaerobic) may have IF = 0.95, but give an overall TSS of 85 due to the long breaks between intervals at only 50% of FTP.
- Another 1h ride with 3x 6min over-unders around threshold will have a lower IF, say IF = 0.86, but the additional time spent in the easier zone still generates similar TSS to the first ride.

Personally, I'm much more comfortable doing an IF=0.95 ride with few short intervals than an IF=0.86 ride with longer over-unders as my muscles are better trained toward high power, short duration sprints than longer threshold efforts. Despite this, the TSS is still similar.

As to the effectiveness/meaningness of TSB... I don't know. I've only done a proper build and taper for one race since I've started paying attention to TSS. It was a road race and I only usually race crits, so I have very little endurance. It also included 2 laps of a 6min climb at 6-7%, which typically kills me as i'm 6'4", 90kg+. However, I didn't get dropped on the hill, animated the race and only cracked in the closing sprint due to cramps (endurance & hydration problem).

So, I don't think (regular) racing is bad. It gives you a good TSS boost for the week and as long as you can structure your other training sessions to provide ample recovery time after, and into the leadup to, your next race, you should still be able to build your form without overdoing it.

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Re: Racing is bad for you - or is it?

Postby Alex Simmons/RST » Tue Oct 11, 2016 2:14 pm

Ross wrote:I used to feel like ft_critical back when I was racing, but I never really crunched the numbers working out TSS etc. I just rode my bike, in hindsight probably too much and too hard. Then I had an injury that forced me off the bike for a few weeks and now I ride less kms and mostly less intensity and apart from enjoying riding more I find I'm a lot fresher now and reckon I still have ~90% strength and fitness and even get a few Strava PRs without really trying (Strava and other riding buddies are the only benchmarks I have now I don't race).

Very unscientific I know, Alex is probably rolling his eyes :roll: and muttering bad things under his breath about me :twisted:

I've never rolled my eyes at anyone who is enjoying their cycling.

I think many misunderstand the concept of training with power as meaning undue rigidity in training. The whole point of training with power is it permits a high degree of freedom to explore and learn there are many ways to skin the training cat.

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Re: Racing is bad for you - or is it?

Postby Jesmol » Tue Oct 11, 2016 3:04 pm

Interesting concept I heard the other day , is about the possible fallacy of targeting TSB of 0 for race day.

For certain people that may not be the best option, and that the perform better at a negative TSB , eg around -10 ~ -20.

If you compare peak power 20M to TSB it should give you a good indication of what level to target for peak performance

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Re: Racing is bad for you - or is it?

Postby Ignoto » Tue Oct 11, 2016 4:37 pm

Jesmol wrote:For certain people that may not be the best option, and that the perform better at a negative TSB , eg around -10 ~ -20.


I can see merit in that argument, although probably not starting a race at -20 TSB. The argument may hold merit for some people in some shorter races, but if you're competing in a race that spans multiple days, starting from a negative base can't be that beneficial. Come the later part of the race, those legs will be mighty sore.

That's not to say that riders don't race at a positive or 0 TSB level, many will turn up to races and treat them as a training ride, which comes down to the whole targeting A, B, C races.

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Re: Racing is bad for you - or is it?

Postby Cul » Tue Oct 11, 2016 5:45 pm

cerb wrote: So, I don't think (regular) racing is bad. It gives you a good TSS boost for the week and as long as you can structure your other training sessions to provide ample recovery time after, and into the leadup to, your next race, you should still be able to build your form without overdoing it.


Generally, I think at “our” level any racing is not going to be bad for us if we structure training, and life stress around racing... Athletes competing at a higher level will need to seriously consider what and when they are racing to time peaks in fitness and form among training.

I am by no means an elite racer (hell even A grade is a stretch at the moment) but I have plotted every race I am considering before XCO National Championships in March next year; there is potentially 19 Race days in 21 weeks, and that doesn’t include local road club races! :!: :!: :!:
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Re: Racing is bad for you - or is it?

Postby Xplora » Wed Oct 12, 2016 4:05 pm

Don't get too worked up over CTL and TSB... I can't find any meaningful connections. The reality is that the smartest thing you can do is plan tapers to ensure you can perform properly. Ensure you keep your time over Z3 to a minimum if you have an event coming up. I find time at threshold really chews me up... but I've won B grade with a crushing 150km day from the day before. Maybe I'm unusual? (shaddarrrrrpp :lol: )

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Re: Racing is bad for you - or is it?

Postby ft_critical » Fri Oct 14, 2016 5:00 pm

So did it work? No. Updated chart below. Noting that I don't think it captures the intensity of spending 45min in the neuromuscular zone and that the amplitude upsets the calculations.

Image

You can see the attempt to add work then peak. At the Nationals, in the motel room before the road race, all I could think was that after three more races it was over. I could stop hurting myself. I haven't ever felt like that before. I DNF'd the road race for the first time. It wasn't physical condition but mental condition. I really wanted to stop riding my bike. During the race when it got really, really hard I gave up.

I think the issue was too much racing.

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Re: Racing is bad for you - or is it?

Postby Strawburger » Fri Oct 14, 2016 5:26 pm

I've had that exact feeling before FT. I know it all too well. I got it after the Nationals TT this year and a few years ago I got it during the Nationals TT. Best to pull out of remaining training and races and give your head a break. Bounce back with vigour!
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Re: Racing is bad for you - or is it?

Postby Xplora » Sat Oct 15, 2016 9:42 pm

Sounds like you had just enough intensity... the year long periodisation models always factor in a complete rest from the bike for a little while. Couple weeks with the bike in the back of the shed will be good for you. The racing isn't the thing that killed you - the overall load will do that. Your body isn't supposed to be able to cope with that level of work all year every year.

I had that feeling after our club champs. I didn't really take a break, I spent 10 hours in the gym instead lifting weights and I felt great a month later focusing on lifting weights instead of bike racing. My recent performances on the bike imply that my FTP is a little down but my bell lap efforts are MUCH stronger now. Can't be unhappy with that.

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Re: Racing is bad for you - or is it?

Postby jules21 » Wed Nov 30, 2016 10:36 am

ft_critical wrote:You can see the attempt to add work then peak. At the Nationals, in the motel room before the road race, all I could think was that after three more races it was over. I could stop hurting myself. I haven't ever felt like that before. I DNF'd the road race for the first time. It wasn't physical condition but mental condition. I really wanted to stop riding my bike. During the race when it got really, really hard I gave up.

I think the issue was too much racing.

I'm not at your level, but I had a similar 'breakdown' around mid-year. it was the winter road racing season and it was hard to train as much outside. I was racing road races every 1-2 weeks that were hard and doing a lot of high-intensity stationary trainer sessions.

my kilometres and time on the bike were less than in the warmer months, but I felt cooked. it was the intensity that was killing me, particularly the trainer sessions. I was mentally just over it.

after a short break then low intensity riding, I ramped it back up for Tour of Bright which is this weekend with 2 x 3 week build blocks and a 2 week 'peak' block, with some rest weeks in between that weren't really rest weeks, but just a bit less. the better weather, more time training outside on longer rides that I enjoy more and a break have left me feeling much fresher. but then I always am as we hit spring and leave winter behind.

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