Paul is a rider I started working with in September 2021 with the initial goal of Project 20:59, to get his 10 mile TT time under the 21 minute mark, with a current PB of 21:59 on the Tring F11/10 course in 2018. We set about working towards this goal, and made good progress throughout the early part of 2022, but then Paul required a hip replacement in June this year.
This set training back significantly as for the first 2 weeks, Paul was limited to walking on crutches and could barely turn the pedals when we started the road to recovery. He started off by setting his FTP/CP at 50 watts, down from the 322 watts it was before the operation! After another 4 weeks, Paul was able to start riding outdoors again, which in his words “felt great being outside but awful as I had absolutely no power or fitness. I pushed on with Zwift sessions and riding with friends but I was making little progress, even riding at their Z2. I was constantly in the red and making myself ill, trying to hang on to a wheel! I was getting frustrated, demoralised and going nowhere.”
It was at this point that recovery had progressed enough that Paul and I were able to start programming training sessions again. We looked at where he was currently, where he had been, and where he needed to be going into 2023 to still hit his targets. The biggest thing, was getting Paul to reel it in. Being as committed as he was to get to that fitness back again, he was working a bit too hard when needing to go easy, and not hard enough when needing to go hard. Since then, we’ve taken a more structured approach, getting in the lower intensity longer duration and recovery sessions, alongside the harder efforts. “Training has been great, structured and constant feedback on how I have done after every session, best advice was to stick to plan and stay in zone, read the clear instructions for each workout and follow them.”
Since sticking to this structured routine with the right sort of training, but equally important the right amount of rest, Paul has got his FTP back up to 296 watts just 6 months after his hip replacement with the majority of those improvements coming in the last couple of months!
The important thing to highlight here is that progress is not a quick process, and it cannot be rushed. It’s easy to think that you need to catch up on lost training time and cram too much in too soon. However this is sure-fire way to hit burnout and injury, as ramping up intensity or volume too high too quickly results in huge levels of fatigue that will affect performance significantly. Training adaptations and fitness are the result not only of training stimulus, but adequate rest to facilitate the adaptations occurring.
This is why it’s important to look at the whole picture. For Paul, he works a busy job during the week and has had a hip replacement. This means that more rest is required between sessions than for someone who has a lighter work schedule, or isn’t recovering from an intense surgical procedure. The plan has to change sometimes, for example when work means that a session cannot be completed one day. But rather than add the session later in the week, we look at how we can adjust the next few days to accommodate the efforts, or remove them and adjust the remaining sessions in the week to maintain most of the training load while taking into account additional fatigue and stress caused by work events.
What’s next for Paul? We’re going to keep working throughout the winter and into 2023 with the goals of smashing his 10 mile TT PB (and hopefully achieving project 20:59), complete a 50 & 100 mile TT, and qualify for the World Gran Fondo champs in Scotland!