"...your heart, blood and intuition are telling you what to do, listen in."
Cyclist or runner, most of us use a marker to judge the intensity of our workout.
For example, "Today we are going to work at 90% of your FTP for 4 sets of 5 min..." The concept also applies to runners who work on time splits all based off their rFTP or threshold. What is most interesting is that we use the same FTP number all winter. There are not too many clients who come in and say "Coach, drop by FTP by 20W today, I am feeling tired." It is more common to hear "Coach, bump me up 10W, the Flames won last night and I feeling great!" Both have their places.
As spring approaches, many of you are getting ready for events and races that have been on pause for a few years. Exciting times! Training volume is going up and it is natural to want to ramp up the intensity. It would be a sign of weakness to drop your FTP for a few workouts! However, many of you are ploughing through workouts trying to use unrealistic numbers because we are tired. You are not fully rested and having to "reach deep" to complete workouts that should not be that hard.
Below is table of a cyclist who had his FTP drop by 20W in a span of 5 days. Until he saw the data, he finally acknowledged that he needed to "take some recovery days." Elevated heart rates and higher than normal blood lactate scores for the same power implies that you need to back off! Backing off doesn't mean doing nothing, but perhaps training in Zone 1 to let yourself recover. You can also tell your coach or yourself, I am tired today, I am going reduce my FTP for this workout. It's OK, no one is judging. Your heart, blood and intuition are telling you what to do, listen in.
Completing those "key" workouts in a rested state gets you the gains you want. You feel better about yourself and the numbers will show it. So, as we head into the pre-competition phase this spring, don't be afraid of doing some Zone 1 recovery workouts. We are not machines, but rather sensitive athletes that need to let their FTP flow up and down depending on the day.