This is briefly my history cycling. I started in March 2021 while I was losing weight and got multiple sessions on and off the road until I had a bad fall that pushed me onto Zwift 100% of the time. I pretty regularly cycled there for a few months (races, workouts, etc.) until I bought a plan on trainingpeaks. I may have overdone it as I really got fed up after a few weeks and I could barely get myself on the bike, I was almost repulsed by it.
I stepped away from it until now and I am trying to get some fitness back.
I realise that I probably need a plan, but what I really enjoy is Zwift races. They always push me to my limit and maybe it may be a good idea to just have a couple of races per week?
I am not really sure what to do as:
- I’d like to find something that will last overtime
- I am worried that if I push too much I may just go back to square one like 6 months ago.
What do you suggest?
Prioritise what you enjoy. If you’ve done something hard and feel tired, take a rest day or go easy.
For a more complex answer, a lot more context is needed - goals, time availability etc
The goal is to improve fitness and at the same time try to keep my weight stable. Availability is 3-4 times a week, I got to a point where I was training 5 times a week and that’s when I hit my limit.
In that case I think you have your answer. Nothing wrong with doing a race or two, and mixing that up with either some free riding or some lower intensity structure. If you’re not enjoying it and then stop, that will have a bigger impact to your fitness than missing the odd session or doing a race rather than a workout.
Focus on the joy and have patience. Give yourself a few months to figure it out. A plan might be too much structure unless it’s pretty easy. I’d avoid racing but let yourself do what you really want in moderation. If you can afford a coach, this is their line of work.
Just to be a bit pedantic (and because I’ve misused the term before) - overtraining is a specific, serious medical condition. Since you started recently, you probably weren’t overtrained. More likely, you either overreached or just got burnt out.
With that out of the way, I’d say just do what you enjoy at this point. Maybe set a realistic weekly time or distance goal for yourself. You’ll get burnt out if you do too many hard rides - limit yourself to one or two a week (these can be races) to start. Build your aerobic base with steady zone 2 rides - find a group you like or ride with Pace Partners. Take a rest day or two every week. Take a rest week (not completely off the bike - just an easy week) occasionally. This depends on your age and fitness - I usually do 3 hard weeks and 1 easy week.
If you’re interested in learning more about exercise physiology and how to make your own training plans, check out books like The Cyclist’s Training Bible and Training + Racing With a Power Meter (these are great resources even if you’re not interested in racing). TrainerRoad and Dylan Johnson have some good videos on Youtube as well.
This is where training programs such as TrainingPeaks that show you your ATL (short term fatigue), CTL (longer term fatigue), your TSB (training stress balance), ramp rates, etc really come in handy so you can manage that load and help avoid burnout. Zwift alone with so many carrots to to chase 24/7/365 can really encourage burnout in those that are not properly educated in this topic.
Racing and training with a power meter is a solid place to start if you like to read. I think they are on the 3rd or 4th edition now.
If you don’t think you’ll enjoy structured training then you wont. ask yourself what it is that you enjoy about cycling and why you do it and just do whatever that is. it’s a hobby, so there’s no point if you don’t actually want to do it
You like doing races? Then do races. Don’t need to limit the frequency of them. When you feel crappy you won’t be in the mood to race or quit half way. Only doing races is less efficient than structured plans but if you like doing them. Who cares? You won’t become pro anyway so everything is relative and about enjoying yourself.
I only do races myself as I like them and don’t like workouts nor free riding. Works well enough for me and above all, I sincerely enjoy myself doing them and without them I’d exercise much much less. So, just do races and have fun.
“hi guys i overtrained in the past and im looking to join some zwift races to push myself to the limit”
someone didn’t learn their lesson XD
thanks guys, I appreciate the answers here!
@gloscherrybomb yeah maybe the right answer for me would be 2 shortish races + 1 free ride. that’s exactly what happened, I was enjoying it, I increased the number of times I would train (up to 5 per week) until I just said enough.
@Paul_Southworth coach may actually be the right answer, thank you
@CouchTo1200K and @Freighter thanks for your suggestions! Also, I will definitely look into those books you mentioned.
@S_A_Cestria_CC and @Shakes thanks, that makes a lot of sense. I will concentrate on doing what I like