FTP Improvement, Sleep Deep Dive, Training Outside & More – Ask a Cycling Coach 207

i use the outside workouts about 75% of the time on my commute into work. My question is my ride is kinda hilly. i struggle to hit the average power(AP) at times , but i hit normalized power(NP) almost all the time. When training outside should i be more concerned with my AP or NP for my intervals? I am currently in Sweet spot base plan. 5 stars all around. Also thanks for everything. Since TR im down 110lbs(290 to 180) and FTP is up by about 90(180-269) and i have my 1st cat 5 race tomorrow

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Loved the sleep deep dive and the emphasis on getting enough sleep (I can do better). And thanks @Nate for insights into sleep apnea. I also have sleep apnea and I got treatment after I was struggling with daytime sleepiness and not feeling refreshed after a good night of sleep. My BMI is in the normal range, but my air passage (due to it’s structure) can collapse during sleeping which causes a drop in oxygen in the body. All this to say, that anybody, not just those that are obese, can suffer from the ailment.

I had a follow-up question with regards to better descending. Where I struggle with descending is on fast descents on rough pavement. The road chatter fatigues my arms/hands and I slow down to maintain better grip/control of the bars. Would switching from alloy handlebars/stem to carbon handlebars help with dampening the road vibration? I am thinking that improved compliance would lead to faster descending. And would stiffer aero carbon bars provide the same dampening effect over those built for comfort? Finally, any recommendations on good aero carbon bars that achieve both aims (good dampening plus aero gains)?

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Probably the best thing EVER to be saved to digital streaming

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Loved @Nate 's travel anecdote, I took the same trip last year and unfortunately got almost no sleep on the plane (flying out of Boston to Lisbon, and I think we flew out at like 7). To make matters worse, we weren’t staying in Lisbon, so I got straight into a rental car and drove us 2hrs north and then stayed up all day because it was during the World Cup and I wanted to go catch the public watch parties in the city center. Maybe not the best for my health but I didn’t miss a minute of vacation fun lol

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The section on finding time to train was very interesting, and I’d love some input as well on how some of you manage. My typical schedule is as follows:

5:30- wake up
6:15- leave for work
7:00 to 5:00- work
6:00-8:00- family time
8:30- start riding
Shower and get to bed after my ride.

I have a fairly high stress job as an engineer and am on my feel probably 7 out of my 10 hours, with maybe a 20 minute lunch if I’m lucky. Also have 2 young kids at home with 1 on the way.

So my question is… how do you guys handle training around long fairly stressful work schedules, along with family life and getting enough sleep? I don’t even race but am getting into a few gravel races in a few months. I feel like I never actually recover, even if I don’t get on my bike.

Any tips you guys have would be awesome. Thanks.

Be careful. I trained and raced while employed as a General Surgeon at a large western HMO. Trainer sessions at 5 AM and 5-7 nights/month with no sleep due to call. I finally succumbed to a stress related medical problem that almost derailed my career. Needless to say I stopped racing, training and even riding. Be Careful.

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Good episode, but gotta say it’s making me wonder if cycling is for me after a history of chronic insomnia. I’ve struggled to sleep for last 5-6 years. Tried almost everything, no results (probably driven by underlying depression)

I think this is also the reason my performance has stalled. Once had the goal of 5w/kg, but Stagnated at about 4.7 w/kg despite structured training, good diet etc.

I would go wider tires on wider rims before you look at bars. It’s amazing what a 28 or even 30-32 makes the road feel like at low pressure.

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Hi.
Ref sleeping with ear plugs, as a night shift worker, hands down the best type of ear plugs I have found are the bio silicon type like these:

Bio Ears Soft Silicone Earplugs Protection 9 Pairs, Blue, Carry Case, contains Activaloe - Antimicrobial Product Protection. https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01B0SRD6O/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_xclbDbHES0FA1

No affiliation, just thought I’d share as these were a revelation.

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@Nate which weighted sheet do you have?

ZonLi Premium Weighted Blanket 20 lbs | 60’‘x80’’ | Cooling Weighted Blanket for Adults 180-220 lbs | Light Grey | Premium Cotton with Glass Beads | Best Gift for Father https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075W9CL88/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_9cqbDbGDXGTR1

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Depression and sleep issues often occur simultaneously and can be self-reinforcing. I had given up on getting good sleep, but after a lot of trial and error I eventually fixed things.

#1. See a doctor and/or psychologist/psychiatrist/therapist if you think you have depression. This is easily the most frustrating part of the process since it can be hard to find the “right” person to click with. Finding a good provider for therapy is a lot like dating, unfortunately. The right fix will probably be a combination of both talk therapy and medication for a period of time. For me, it was around a year of both, but it might be shorter or longer depending on your needs.

#2. Track your sleep, so you understand what is really going on. Sleep Cycle is a good app for this. The trackers aren’t perfect, but they are better than nothing and add an element of objectivity to what is sometimes emotionally charged.

#3. Sleep Hygiene. Checking all of these off the list is hard, but it will definitely help you sleep better over time.

  • Minimal to no caffeine after 2pm
  • Remove as much alcohol from your diet as possible/practical
  • Dark room. Get blackout curtains. Seriously, I know it feels like a lot of money but it’s worth it.
  • No pets in the bedroom.
  • Remove as many devices as you can from the bedroom. More on this later.
  • Remove all the clocks that you might be able to see when getting up on the way to the bathroom if you have to get up
  • Have a variety of light and heavy blankets in case you get hot or cold

I use an Amazon Alexa as an alarm clock, which helps me not have my phone in the bedroom. (I got this idea from a podcast featuring Kate Courtney and it has worked great).

I used to have terrible insomnia after years of battling depression and also a really bad work schedule when I was working for a startup (was regularly pulling 36 hour days inside of 80 hour weeks). I would wake up 5-7 times a night and have terrible anxiety about getting back to sleep.

Now, I normally sleep pretty well, wake up feeling rested and maybe wake up 1 time a night and I don’t stress about it. It’s been so helpful to my well being that I pretty much optimize around getting enough sleep as my #1 priority.

Don’t give up on trying to fix it! It can be done.

The Peter Attia podcast 47, 48, and 49 go into a very deep dive with the author of Why We Sleep. It’s a good listen also:

https://peterattiamd.com/matthewwalker1/

https://peterattiamd.com/matthewwalker2/

https://peterattiamd.com/matthewwalker3/

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Can’t thank you enough for such a great reply. Very much appreciated.

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I wonder about the wider conditions for the sleep studies on temperature.

As someone who lives in a place which reaches 40c during the day and 28c at night, cooling the bedroom to 16-18c isn’t feasible.

Won’t the body’s adaptations to temperature mean that the optimum sleeping temperature will vary depending on the season and local climate?

Re @Jonathan 's training camp. Did he do the Force Intervals at Sweetspot intensity during his endurance rides?

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The sleep part was very interesting (and worrying) I haven’t slept through the night in 10 years since having surgery and never will for the rest of my life.

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I’m 5’10" (177.5cm) and 155 (70kg) and lean by just about any measure. Also diagnosed with sleep apnea as I have a large tongue and same odd structure to my airway. I had a turbinate reduction and septoplasty, and now have a CPAP, and my sleep has improved dramatically. I, too, thought sleep apnea was just for obese men, but here I am. My apnea was considered “minor” at 14 incidents per hour, but that’s 14 times that I was potentially waking up every hour (moderate is more than 15/hr, normal is ~2/hr). While my life was probably not endangered as with severe sleep apnea, my sleep quality was poor.

I long knew I had issues with sleep, as I would rarely have dreams, woke up multiple times every night, and was a snorer when laying in many positions. I was rarely refreshed after a night’s sleep, and often tired early in the day. Thinking back to my dad’s sleep patterns, he probably had it too, and it can be inherited.

Don’t hesitate to do a sleep study if any of that sounds familiar.

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Seconding Sleep Cycle. Any of the phone apps out there that also record noises during the night can give you an idea of what’s waking you up. I first started thinking about sleep apnea when I would listen to my Sleep Cycle audio files and hear snoring, and even many of my apnea events. They can also clue you in as to if there’s some ambient noise disturbance throughout the night that you’re not aware of, but that might be waking you.

I didn’t particularly care for the alarm feature as it would often wake me early, and I wanted to just lay there, but it worked.

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Kolya, I live in Australia in an un-airconditioned apartment with terrible insulation. Temperatures in my apartment at night time can easily be above 28C. The trick for me is achieving that reduction in core temperature through other means. A cold towel and a steady, directional fan will get you 90% of the way there. Once asleep, I’m sure the quality isn’t quite as good but you can do little things to help.

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@Nate - I have the same relaxation issue where my mouth opens and air goes out, waking me. I haven’t tried tape yet, but have an elastic strap that works… I just didn’t like it. I’ve settled on essentially holding a pillow with the end propped under my jaw when I lay on my side. When I relax, it keeps my jaw closed enough. Seems to work pretty well for me. Just a suggestion if you (or your wife) doesn’t like the tape. I think my wife would light my CPAP on fire if she had her way.