Please advice a 42y old beginner with 1y of cycling experience: what should be my next move?

(Rolf Aalders) #1

Please advice a 42y old beginner with 1y of cycling experience.

In 2008, after 15y of not doing sports at all, I picked up running. In 2009 I stopped doing that because of repeating injuries (knees & shin splits).

December 2017 I started riding my city bike, because I wanted to improve my health, after years of not exercising. I’ve done an occasional kayaking trip, but kayaking once in a couple of weeks, does not improve my fitness at all.

I wanted to change that. I wanted to improve my health and fitness. I’ve never been fat (being 75kg, 1.86m at that time), but I knew my fitness is way off. Not wanting to repeat the injuries from running, and recalling that I never really enjoyed running at all, I wanted to do something that really energizes me. I recalled cycling with my dad, when I was 14 years old… Loved that.

Since my fitness was really off, I just started cycling on the city bike I had available. I started just before christmas 2017 and I rode 3x a week around 5-10 km. I recall being exhausted. But I sticked to my plan and, having a family and day job, sometimes I was on my bike at 05.00 just to make it 3 times a week. I loved it. Bought a ‘proper’ bike in februari, a Focus Cayo.

The mechanic of the local bike shop and I became friends and we rode a lot together. He learned me a lot, about maintenance, shifting, etc. Obviously he also saved my ass a lot by letting me draft.

7 or 8 weeks ago I bought a smart trainer (Kickr core), and started zwifting. I did an FTP test (152w) and started the 6w FTP builder plan. Did a 2nd FTP test when I finished the program yesterday (163w).

Today, on the last day of the year, I hit the 4000km mark.
My goal for 2018 was to ride free of injuries and to make cycling a habit / an addiction. I’ve seen nasty saddle sores (blood!) and knee issues. I was able to do some micro adjustments to solve these (2 replacement saddles, narrow). I’m really proud I made it an addiction.

But please advice: What should I do next? What should I be focussing on?
I’m aware that my FTP is still low. I’d like to improve my:
Pacing / stamina / suffering.
Often I’m afraid of having to quit a workout/ride before the finish, because I started with too much power, so I start too easy.

Strength / power / average speed (FTP)
I’d like to have a higher average speed, so I can keep up with the other, faster rides and increase the length of the rides. I’d like to improve my climbing capabilities.

The 6w FTP Builder plan I could do. Actually, most of the time I put it on 110%, because I felt the program was too easy. Perhaps the initial FTP test was not performed properly.
I’ve done a couple of free rides (no workout) and I thought these were tougher than the workouts.
I’ve seen some vids on YouTube on Zwift racing and became aware that this is also possible for people with lower FTP / beginners. This makes me very curious. I’ll probably will join an easy one just to have the experience and learn if I’m enjoying it.

What would I benefit most of? Follow a training plan/ workout, or just do individual free ride or Cat D races? I’ve been looking at the TimeTrail specific workout, because I think this fits my needs.

What do you think of my numbers? 163w for a 42y old ‘beginner with 1 year experience’. Currently I’m 72kg/1.86m (158 Lbs 6 Feet, 1 Inches). I’m always under the impression that I ‘grow/develop’ muscles very slow. Most of the time I eat properly.

What would you advice?
I’m aware that this is kind of a no brainer, since probably everything is a good approach, I can improve a lot and that I will never be a pro, but that is all fine. I am just curious on your thoughts and experiences.

(Tomas) #2

You could try some social rides if you havent already,good training and real fun you learn the importance of staying in draft! try some sub 2 and lower rides,ride on!

(James Keezer) #3

Hey Rolf,

I see two questions here:

  1. “What do you think of my numbers?”

It doesn’t matter how high or low your watts/kg is, what matters is that it will show you how much you are improving over time.

  1. “What would I benefit most from / What should I be focusing on?”

Do another FTP test when you are fresh, and do it right. You should be going “all out” and “empty the tank” – in other words, you should not be able to keep going by the end.

When you have your new FTP, then you can do an FTP build plan at 100% difficulty and you should see good results. If you can do several in a row at 110% and still feel fine, then you need to do another FTP test.

Feel free to send me a DM or reply here if you have more questions.

(Alexander Perdon (CTWT)) #4

I do not agree with the comments above. Just checked your Strava profile and I notice that your training is not consistent enough, if there is any consistency then it is consistent too low in hours.

First of all you need to get some schedule in your training. Start with 3 times a week and about 6 hours, 2 times a week intensive about 1.5 hour and 1 time a week endurance for 2-3 hours.

Getting better is all about consistency and variation in your training with training all the zones.

For the first intensive training, just go hard from the start after a proper warming-up of at least 10 minutes. Just get a feeling of your posibilities. Don’t give up and try to keep up with the other rides. There are some 2,2-2,5 w/kg social rides. Join these rides, it will make you stronger. Don’t do sub 2, since then you will only continue what you are doing now, training too less intensive.

(Jason) #5

Hello Rolf, such a great story and post. I think it’s great that you’ve become “an addict” and that your journey has laid some foundation to build upon.

I’m going with a contrary post, and I realize you didn’t ask for this type of information.

While Zwift is excellent, and building FTP / performance is great, my view is don’t forget about the long term mental benefits that you can hopefully reap for the next 30 years. So, when it’s nice outside forget about Zwift and your training plan, leave the devices at home and go ride, long and at a leasurely pace! Try a new route, maybe hit some gravel roads or rail trails (something different) and get in touch with yourself, nature, a new town, etc. If it’s cold in the winter where you live, invest in cold weather riding gear so you’re outside as much as possible. If you have mtb trails nearby try mountain biking, or like I said above if you have gravel roads try getting more rural and explore. Regardless of where you’re riding, keep it light and fun…fitness will come with a laid back approach too. Don’t burn out it get injured! All the best.

(Alexander Perdon (CTWT)) #6

For the endurance ride I agree with Jason. Just go and ride easy and have fun.

(tony hoskins) #7

Hi Rolf , amazing achievement with what you done this year . I was in a similar situation regarding knees , I have had 4 ops on both legs over the last 5 years , just as i was getting into cycling . I cant comment on what to do next regarding zwift as i am a newcomer as well .
What i have done is joined a local cycling club and I have improved so much over the last year , great going out in groups and getting all the help in drafting etc . I have done sportives and love them . Starting on about 30 miles and now up to 80 miles , Also competed ( not a race ) in the ride to the sun from carlisle to edinburgh over night ( 100 miles )
If you do improve with your FTP etc then please pass on your tips to me . good luck
Tony ( 54 years old )

(Rolf Aalders) #8

Thanks all for your feedback.
All your responses feel valid. Keep on going, keep on pushing.
That indeed is an issue: pushing harder… I’ll have to learn to better pace my rides so that I know when I’m pushing too hard (and I won’t make the finish (distance/time)) and I need to learn that I’m have still some energy in the tank which I should use before the finish.

Also, I followed the training plan, which determined the hours I need to put in. But, as mentioned, I think my initial FTP was too low. On the other hand I’ve read some reviews on that specific plan, stating that others found it too easy as well… but then again, they also might have started with the wrong FTP.
Anyways, I’m sure I have to train harder. More power, longer. A mix of both. .Some harder sessions, some longer sessions.
Will work out a plan for that. I like the structured workouts, like the plans, because you don’t have to ‘think’ about the next type of ride.

I’ll do a social ride as well soon.

First: Tomorrow a spectator at the Indoor Track Days in Rotterdam :slight_smile: Looking forward to that as well.

(Martyn Kimberley (COPZ)) #9

Good work Rolf. It sounds like you have found a passion and are driven to improve.

Don’t forget that gains are also made during recovery. Many people forget to allow adequate rest periods during their quest for better numbers.

There are many theories regarding when to rest, how long for and how many rest sessions are required. You will need to research this yourself and find a routine which fits both your current/ progressing fitness level and your lifestyle.

Ride On!

(Bhaltair Gruamach [DIRT]) #10

Great job in deciding a change was needed and then doing something about it!

Generally, improvement in any athletic endeavour requires two things: Consistency and Progression. Both of those will get a boost from setting some goals. Zwift has some of these built in with rewards for XP levels, Missions, Challenges, etc. Other goals might be something like:

Increase your FTP by 10%.
Get your FTP above 200 watts. 220 watts. 240 watts…
Take 60 seconds off your XXXX KOM or YYYY Route time.
Complete a 100 km ride. A 100 mile ride.
Ride a race. Finish in the top 25. Top 10. On the podium…

Goals should be challenging but attainable. And it doesn’t hurt to have a reward when a goal is reached - a new pair of REAL cycling shorts, socks, shoes… whatever motivates you!

(Joerg Th ) #11

Hello Rolf,
I am not sure you have to train harder and push a lot.
Presently I am following the 10-12wk FTP builder plan and have increased my FTP by 20% in 8 weeks. Maybe that is an exaggerated number, maybe not. I can only tell that my FTP is now better than at a race (Charly Gaul) where I participated in September.
I am 55 now and have restarted cycling in September 2016 after 10 years of not cycling. In 2017 I have done my first race in my life (Charly Gaul) and it was so much fun, I did 2.000 km in 2017 and had to do two races and two other cycling events in 2018, completing 4400 km in the end (including Zwift).
What really made a change was when I got a power meter in July 2018, that enables me to go hard in a race, but still be able to do a sprint at the end. It also enables me not to go too hard when I do training rides.
I wish you a lot of luck and fun cycling. In the Netherlands you do have the advantage that you have plenty of bikeroads and do not have to worry about cars.
I agree with one of the people in the thread, Zwift is nice - compared to rides on a turbo trainer in the past, which was really boring, but going outside in the country-side is much more beautiful. One of my best christmas presents was the weather on Christmas day, when I was able to ride outside with real sunshine.

All the best,