I have just done a 12 week road programme and wanted to do FF today to see my gains.
However, I didn’t manage to complete it and I was a bit disappointed.
I’m a 55 year old with about 25 years of serious cycling experience including plenty of time trials and somewhat fewer crits so I know about suffering and pacing, etc.
Here were my passport numbers in December when I was almost completely untrained (had spent the previous 12 months just riding for pleasure):
- I made a mess of the AC effort and stopped after 30 seconds so I would say my AC was more like 360 at that time.
Then I did a HM 6 weeks into the programme and my numbers went up to:
I was training with the new numbers and none of the workouts felt too hard to complete. In the whole 12 weeks there was only one session that was too hard to complete. So I was pretty optimistic about my FF today.
My NM effort was great, NM was up to 848.
I then went into the 5 minute effort targetting 300 watts which seemed realistic given the previous numbers and the progress that I’d made. Unfortunately the pain became too much after about 3 minutes. Even after stopping I still managed an average of 258. For reference in 2017 I sustained 295w for 8 minutes when I was training for a big event.
I must admit that I felt a bit disheartened but had a go at the 20 minute effort. I was targetting 260w, and was riding at about 250-255. My legs felt terrible after 5 minutes and my heart wasn’t in it after that point so I stopped.
My conclusion is that I am a little overtrained - I was feeling a bit low on motivation in the week and my legs were feeling tired and painful all week. Even this morning I did not feel all that energetic.
My idea now is to lay off the intense training a little and spend a week or 2 just riding my bike outdoors and then try the FF again.
Any advice or thoughts?
Your plan sounds like a good one. You really need to be rested and primed for FF. You might even want to consider doing the FF plan that is basically a recovery week with enough training stim to keep you in the game.
Also, fwiw, FF is a real mental challenge. It might be worth it for you to do the Positive Self Talk module and the Focus exercise.
Take a break, come back and crush it! It’d be great if you came back here to give a follow up report.
I think your plan sounds like a good one to go with. Overtraining/burnout can happen for plenty of reasons. It can do wonders for your motivation in just having 2 weeks of riding your bike only when you want to, and only going as hard/long as you want (which often means short and easy for many many rides).
FF is a difficult one to pace and really does require developing a better internal sense of RPE. I really only follow power targets for the first 90sec of the 5min, and 3min of the 20min. For the 20min I try to start at around 80% of what I averaged for the 5min. The rest comes down to feel. As far as the 1 minute… starting at 90% of max for the first 15sec can help limit that drop off at the end, just know that no matter how you pace that 1-minute effort, it’s going to feel awful.
Hope that helps, and wouldn’t mind hearing an update when you do take on FF next time!
I have just had exactly the same experience having got to the end of my most recent road programme. I am 52 and have cycled MTB, gravel and road for the last 20 years; mostly for fitness and pleasure but with forays into the alpine Enduro scene while living in Germany 10-15 years ago.
Passport from last FF in Dec '20 was 847 / 348 / 262 / 212, but HM 6 weeks back gave me increases on MAP and FTP to 285 / 238. Workouts then became much harder with ones such as Nine Hammers and the Omnium having sectors I was unable complete.
On this morning’s FF, I hit a new high on NM of just over 900 then struggled to keep above 250 on the AC before quitting on the FTP with power dropping after just over 2 mins to not much over 200.
Legs have been feeling heavy and tired for the last few weeks and RPE has been increasing in that same period.
I had a planned 2 week rest period but am now thinking that the All In Yoga & Strength would be a better use of my time.
Any thoughts or help much appreciated after a disheartening start to the day. Thanks
I’ve done a few FFs now. My conclusion fwiw, sometimes you’re the , sometimes you’re the nail! God only knows why!!
For what its worth, I am in a similar position to you. I’m 52, been riding and racing from my 20s into my 40s and never stopped riding my bike. Trying to get fit again now. I started with the 12 week road on “Advanced”. (although my second 12 week was an adapted 12 week using intermediate settings for more rest).
I’ve done 4 FF so far because I did an FF instead of the half monty half way through. Sufferfest is awesome, but very taxing, more so than anything I’ve done before. I’ve found at my age I really do have to rest before the FF.
I’ve done 3 FFs on a weekend, had a long long sleep before hand and prepared for it as a major event. I’ve done the full rest, taper, primers leading up to them. It may seem a waste of good weekend training time, but I have it as event weekend.
I often worry about the taper and rest period being too long and think I’m going to lose fitness, but I really do think it is needed going into the FF. You have to be mentally and physically rested. Each FF I was up for it and surprised by my results.
The only FF I did mid week was on a Thursday and I was not quite as rested nor mentally prepared and whilst I did improve (this was in place of a mid plan half monty), it was not as good as the others.
Pacing is always important too. I use my old FF figures as a basis and try and ride between 5 and 10% above depending on how I feel. I don’t use the pacing strategy they suggest. I “ease” myself in and continually ramp up the power to where I feel it is just right, but always starting on my old figures for the 5 min and 20 mins. I do aim about a quarter of the way through to be approx 10 % above my figures at the that point. I figure it is better than blowing up.
So, believe in the rest and taper periods and make sure you are fully rested. Oh, and don’t have too many espressos around your pre-FF energy drink. Wreaks havoc with your stomach when you are giving it 110%!!! That didn’t help with my last FF.