SSBII Kicking my butt follow up

So a while ago I posted that SSBII was kicking my butt. Some suggestions I got from that thread:

  • don’t raise FTP going from SSBI to SSBII.
  • Eat right, cool right, sleep right etc etc
  • lower the intensity a bit if still having trouble.

So… I did some of those things. Some better than others. I got a new fan which definitely helps but I don’t think that was making a huge difference to begin with (I had a moderately OK one.) I
I didn’t always get as good of sleep as I should but sometimes I did. I try to eat ride conciously but sometimes my wife/kids want Pizza for dinner.

Anyway, I just finished week 5 and when I say finished I really mean I limped through the last two weeks of workouts. Almost every workout was the same pattern. Start at 100% and I can get through the first interval but then I’m pretty gassed. 2nd interval My HR starts getting above what I can sustain so I backspin 20 seconds and turn the intensity down to 96% or so. 3rd interval I’m really gassed no so I just try to go 2 minutes at a time and take a 30 second back spin. Today on the 1:30 (Leconte) I just started out at 98% and set the 2nd interval at 96% and then last at 94 but I still had to take more backspins the last interval.

Anyway, feeling a bit like maybe it’s just the wrong time of the year for me. When I started everyone (including TR staff) was like, yeah just start at SSBI, go to SSBII, then your builder then specially phase and you’re good to go. But I’m sort of feeling like This might be overtaxing me at the wrong time of the year. I have some big events this summer but is January really the right time to be killing myself on interval workouts? I did take several weeks between the end of the season before I started hitting SSBI and through that session I was able to complete the workouts.

Anyway, it might just be that these last weeks are really exploiting my riding style weekness. The focus shifted to longer intervals at FTP or higher. I’m pretty good at short burst efforts but tend to burn out quickly. I’m light weight and a good hill climber but have trouble maintaining energy on long endurance rides after the first few hours for instance.

So anyway, guess my concern is… what can I expect moving on to the builder phase as I had originally planned it out? Time to reconsider the next 4-5 months before summer roles around? Or maybe this is a good time to try out the new TR career builder and see what it says. Maybe my riding style/stengths just play well to getting a good score on the ramp ftp test IDK.

Other info: 43M been doing the low volume plan BTW.
I wouldn’t actually be opposed to doing the mid volume plan since it has more workouts and some of them are lower % of FTP. I think I can probably handle more TSS during the week. (TSS before I stared TR in the fall was around 400 /wk. but it’s only like ~230ish on the low volume plan.)

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This is my first cycle through base-build-specialty but I have my girlfriend and another friend doing it as well (n=3). I’ve learned some things!

Not everyone’s power curve is the same shape!

The ramp test is really a Vo2 max effort so the power targets on VO2 max will be set pretty well for everyone.

The lower the intensity, the more the individual variations in power curve come into play. If you are Anaerobicly strong you will suffer greatly at SS and TH.

If FTP was set with a 1hr max effort instead of at 75% of your final minute power on the ramp test, then you (being relativelystrong anaerobicly) would probably find the Vo2 max workouts easy

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I just want to chime in and commiserate with you - I am on week 4 of SSB2 and I am having a tough time with it. Once I hit Jepson, it has become really difficult to feel rested and recovered to do the next workout. Tomorrow morning is the infamous Mary Austin.

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This is not unusual. Mary Austin and Leconte have a reputation in the TR community. Nobody breezes through them.

I’d say pat yourself on the back for not completely bailing and just move on.

Whether it’s too early in the season to be kicking your ass is for you to decide, but I wouldn’t let SSB2 weeks 4 and 5 be the deciding factor. There are easier ways to lift FTP early in your structured training career. The long SST intervals become more important as you reach your ceiling.

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Welp! I’m on my last day of SSBI Mid Volume. Gonna ramp test on Monday and go in SSBII. My vote is still on nutrition and sleep but I might very well be in the same boat very soon who knows!

Every training block - SSB, Build, and Specialty - will expose new strengths and weaknesses.

Going through the full program and starting over will reveal updated strengths and weaknesses. With even a slight bump in FTP, some things that were hard, aren’t as hard anymore. Some things that were easy, aren’t so easy anymore.

Thus the importance of not dwelling on the past and continually moving forward.

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New to TR here. Started with SSB1 LV. The last week or two of SSB1 felt relatively easy. Not easy per say but I felt rested and never felt in jeopardy of failing a workout.

So this week I completed the ramp test and my FTP jumped from 225 to 253. Happy, yes that’s more than I had ever imagined but I immediately thought oh my what is SSB2 (still going LV) going to be like? I had already looked ahead and seen that there are more workouts with intensity intervals above FTP and some real TH workouts, not just SS at all. Today was Ebbetts. Completed it at 100% but I was oh so close to throwing in the towel in the last one. I was queasy stomach ready to run to the restroom to possibly throw up in the last minute. From the sound of this thread I will have a long haul ahead of me.

Good luck to you all and wish me luck!

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I think you just highlighted your issue; you are anarobically fit but your aerobic engine is lagging. It just depends on how you have been training up till now; I would hedge a bet that if you tried some vo2 max efforts at your current ftp you would breeze through them. As a triathlete myself, I am the opposite of you and my anaerobic efforts are pretty garbage. I’m a diesel and that’s from my race specificity. I struggle with vo2 max but I crush u/O and threshold efforts (and I find them hard too, so I can imagine what you are feeling)

I think by working on your weaknesses now you will set yourself up for an extremely strong race season. My only concern would be mental burnout. If your feeling like your going to burn out too fast mentally, maybe dial it back a bit in the early months. While this is imo where you define your summer success in race season, if your going to be burned out come late spring, I think either taking a break now that ssb2 is done and giving yourself some time of non-structure or limiting your volume for a bit till you feel more confident would be overall favorable to trying to stick with workouts and potentially getting frustrated or demotivated. I think what also differentiates very successful riders on here and the fop from the rest are that the top riders know when to scratch workouts or are coming into workouts too fatigued/burnt out. Know when to hold em, know when to fold em, know when to walk away and take a break. I’m sure once summer comes if you stick with it you will notice a huge aerobic improvement, specially since ssb2 is chalked full of high ss and threshold efforts (bacisally a ton of threshold efforts, idc if your “at the high end of ss”, in my eyes it’s practically threshold)

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That is what I was thinking.

OP, maybe you just need lots of regular old base miles?

I was in a similar state last year. Intensity was burying me and leaving me exhausted. I dialed it all back and did 12 weeks of base miles. My endurance and stamina improved dramatically. My FTP went up by 20 points. I broke my PRs on all my key Strava segments.

After the base miles, I could do intervals without them excessively fatiguing me.

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I didn’t go back to your original post, but is this your first run at indoor structured training, or just your first run at TR’s program?

Reason I ask is that I’m having all the same issues you are. SSBI was challenging, but I nailed about 80% of it and thought I’d really be killing things. Well, SSBII has been an absolute mess and I failed some of the same or very similar workouts in SSBII that were in SSBI despite only having a 3 point tick in FTP.

I suspect for me and maybe you, it’s two things: 1) I have always been comfortable at VO2 max, so am also a good candidate to kick out an inflated ramp test and 2) this is my first go-round with an indoor trainer in a very long time. I think it’s easy to under-appreciate just how concentrated this work is compared to outdoor riding. Couple this concentration with a LOT of intervals and an inflated FTP (a triple whammy!) and that’s a fast road to a pair of fried legs.

I’m just going to back it off a few days and see what happens like next Friday. You might just give that a shot.

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Second year with the indoor trainer. I did structured training last year on zwift. First year with TR. I wanted to have better control over the program and potentially better gains. Also I like you can use TR year round/outside too.

Hmmm… I haven’t used Zwift at all but, based on following my friends who do, it seems their structure is a little more loose. TR really comes at you hard, IMO… best of luck.

I started about a year ago, with SSBI then II, and had a similar experience. Last four weeks of II really killed me. I probably turned down or couldn’t get through half the workouts.

I got maybe a small FTP bump on my next ramp, then repeated the last four weeks of SSBII, and killed it. My reward was a significant improvement to start my build phase, which I felt significantly better prepared for. I think there were as many psychological adaptations as physiological.

It’s really hard, especially if you’re new to structured training. I’m only speaking from my own experience and not any kind of expertise, but maybe consider just doing that, repeating last four weeks, see what happens,

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Please don’t take what I’m about to say as condescending, it’s not my intention.

Personally, I think a fair amount of the OPs problems are mental. You have to be able to step away, decompress and learn. Don’t let one or a handful of sessions define you. I do say this from training and racing experience.

Those of us who have years of TR usage still see Mary looming on the horizon and I’m willing to bet that we all roll our eyes and curse.

With regards to the OPs intensity reductions, why not reverse the process. Start off at 94/95% and own that first interval. Allow yourself to say ‘yeah, I’ve got this!’ Then gradually increase, if you can. Once you mentally accept that your performance is going to tank, it’s only going to go one way.

Eating, sleeping and cooling will make a difference but the mind will bring it all together. If I were the OP and had the time, I’d go back to the start of SSB2. Clear my mind and I bet I/you would smash the first two weeks. Then you’ve got a great mental foundation to build on and you can say ‘I did the last workout, tell me why I won’t be able to do this one too?’

Good luck moving forward :+1:

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I always look at the whole plan based on my goals and what I know I can do - as a time triallist I have no problem with SS and threshold but find o/u and VO2 work difficult. I know I need to improve these aspects but I find there is little point in starting a session you know you will struggle to finish. So I did HV last year but thought this year I needed some more variety in base so I am doing MV but with some modifications. I have added length to workouts like Ebbets etc and done the +2 versions and replaced the 60 min threshold sessions with 90mins SS in the week and lengthened Petit to Andrews on Wednesday. I keep the o/u on Saturday but have done sessions like Warlow/ McAdie/ Palisade/Fang Mountain+2 etc which are tough but not as mental as Leconte. Then on Sunday I do a long group ride or SS (Tray mountain+2 today as it is blowing a gale in the UK - should be ok!) This allows me to train hard, get in the TSS and crucially not get TOO much intensity in to early as I don’t start time trialling until April. My FTP is still rising 236W (2018) - 280 (2019) 295 (now) and it has allowed me to not get psyched out by a session…I wouldn’t finish Leconte with that IF it would be as a hard as a race and I like to save those all out efforts for the times when I have a number on my arse…you only have so many matches! So if it gets to tough - change it - there are loads of workouts which are subtly different which will give 95% of the training benefit without as the OP says getting your butt completely kicked :grinning:

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the low volume plan is designed to be the MEANEST of the plan volumes (when you are on the bike)… this is basically the only way to boost FTP when you are limited to 4 hours per week. they are all very mean workouts: all those over-unders and VO2 max workouts plus the microburst workouts…

I also recently finished the low volume plans: i really benefited from backing off on the hours on the bike It gave me more time to prepare for the rides, study fitness theory, and get to work on time with less stress in my life. so like i guess, just because you think you might have more hours to ride the mid or high volume plans doesn’t necessarily mean you should because TR does not schedule in the necessary time to clean up and prepare fore each ride.

“what can i expect moving on to the builder phase” I found that when i moved to the build phase, the RPE was lower, my cardiovascular stress dropped a ton. generally the intensity is harder, (i was doing the general build plan). so, I was building some strength on the bike but yeah it’s a slightly different kind of stress. so if you were finding the base plans to be extremely draining, that does not mean the build plan will feel draining. Hell, I was concerned when i first entered the LV general build plan that things were backing off too much and i would lose fitness, but i did gain 6% on my FTP after the gen guild plan so that was good!

It does look to me like you are learning just how seriously you need to treat these workouts on the LV plan: the next paragraph are some of my tips for nailing workouts… a lot of which comes from the podcasts and the tips from FAQ on TR. which you mention already having learned about… so feel free to skip it lol.

I recently accomplished the entire ssb LV I and II plans and they were definitely hard… i found myself always thinking and nervously anticipating the next workout. doing more and more to eat more calories close to the workouts (and less calories far away from the workout when i’m less hungry)… (if I’m scheduling the ride in the morning, I eat a good filling dinner the night before) and an early carb-rich breakfast 3 hours prior and a sizable high protein post-workout meal. I use compression socks now a lot between workouts. I sleep way more now too and my wife doesn’t get that! I use caffeine and gels during workouts which is an expensive habit now that i’m doing my workouts with such consistency… I guess basically my entire day revolves around these workouts now. and I too still back-pedal sometimes. I also benefit from taking a little time to contemplate my workout and look forward in my plan to see the next workout that will be similar and reflect on how the workout is going to change. (maybe they are going to boost the intensity or maybe they are going to boost the duration of the intervals for example) As some have said before, this is a mental battle, and pulling together the mental fortitude to endure is of utmost importance.

Keep at it man… you will figure out what works well for you. it takes years! we are all just experimenting here mostly.

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Thanks for the feedback. I’ve contemplated this a lot and I’m not sure myself if this is or isn’t the case. My max HR is around 190. Maybe 189 now idk is been a year since I hit 190 and they say it goes down lol. Anyway, I generally start having trouble continuing the workout around 183 or 184. I’m not a stranger to discomforts associated with pushing the workload along with a high HR. Usually I tell myself if my hr hasn’t hit that’s high water mark that I can keep the pedals moving until it does.

My hope is that over time I can push harder watts without my HR getting as high. Should I just ignore HR and do what I can do regardless? To be clear, I don’t bail at a high HR because I think I should, rather, at that HR I’m really burning the last drops of energy and my legs are just going to stop.

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I think you should cover you HR with a piece of black tape and only look at it post exercise.

If it makes you feel any better, I think theres more than just fitness that is affecting your heart rate going into these; it could be that you stress over these workouts, or you are fatigued going in, or you need more sleep, or you are not fueling enough prior. I have done low SS efforts and pushed into 160bpm, which is relitively high for that level of low SS; seeing those numbers just basically says I am likely tired or I need fuel or this workout is going to be mentally painful and tough. OTOH I have done Mary Austin that same week following that 160bpm ride and rolled through it at like 165bpm, which is crazy; thats obvious to me that my fitness was not the issue, its external issues or rolling into my workout with fatigue.

Try sticking with the training and see how it goes. Don’t be afraid to lower the intensity by 4-5%, theres nothing wrong with that. You should eventually up your abilities to push higher. Try different things leading into your rides. I ride with and without socks sometimes (triathlete) but when I see a HARD O/U workout coming, I literally put on my good socks I typically race in, I prep my nutrition like a race and I roll into the workout like I am going to smash it. It has done wonders mentally, even with the sock thing alone. And as sebi once said, “If its hurting me, its killing them”. Put the work in now so you absolutely dust people come race day.

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IMO - it’s January, you shouldn’t be using every trick in the book to get through a workout.

Mary Austin may be a relatively hard workout, but it has essentially 6x10 of less than what you should be able to do 1x60 at.

I’d suggest retesting FTP with something other than the ramp test, as it’s probably a ‘good’ test for you and giving you an unrealistic FTP.

That’s just the Occam’s Razor take on it, it might be fan/fuelling/sleep/nutrition related, but the simple answer is usually the right one :slight_smile:

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