Training Plan for Older People

To clarify, I think the workout plan is great but for a guy my age I have to make myself take a day or two off. I am missing some workouts that address particular strengths but I am building up. Here is something else. I stopped thinking in terms of miles (or feet climbed or for that matter awards won) and think about hours worked. I read a NYTs article that an hour a day 5 or 6 days a week is optimal for health. Actually I have read several articles that conclude that. If you are working towards a beach body then you hit it harder. So keep doing the Build me up but drop a couple of workouts a week and do something else or do recovery rides, keeping you effort moderate. I walk on my off days. These workouts are so much better than spinning for cyclists.

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At 62, I’ve been using Zwift for about three years, but have only just started trying out workouts and training plans, first with the FTP Builder and just recently Build Me Up. FTP Builder was fine, but I struggled with the final couple of weeks of BMU and had to skip a couple of the final sessions since I hadn’t recovered enough from the previous workouts. It worried me at first, but then I read Joe Friel’s book “Fast After Fifty” and discovered that this is to be expected and is perfectly normal for people of my age. Joe suggests that we should be training using a “9-day week” in order to build in the extra recovery time that we need, since older bodies don’t recover as quickly as younger ones (he also explains why this is).

So, this issue is simply another manifestation of one big problem with the Zwift training plans, which is that they are far too inflexible. There are several threads here started by younger riders who have the same issue because despite their better ability to recover, they have other commitments which screw with their training schedule.

I know you can pick and choose individual sessions instead of sticking to a training plan, and thereby build yourself a more relaxed schedule, but the point of training plans is that they give you the motivation to get on the bike and “complete”. They give you a goal to aim for which isn’t there when you simply string together individual workouts.

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I second what Ian suggested.
“Fast After Fifty” is a must read.
Many of the training plans are good but the scheduling is incorrect therefor, the plan is wrong.
Tweak the schedule and they become good again.

Some workouts on Zwift are just obsolete and should be removed.
That’s another topic: “How to judge workouts”.

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Hello @Beth_Klawun and @Gunther_Stern and thank you for joining the discussion. I sympathise!

So far I have completed FTP Builder and Gran Fondo. The FTP Builder was fairly straightforward and achieved what its title intends. However, I moved house afterwards and took a week off from Zwift. When I came back I just joined individual workouts and group rides until the Autumn/Fall, when I completed the Gran Fondo training plan. In this plan I struggled with a few of the workouts and dropped too many stars for my liking and found this demotivating. I should say that I feel my FTP dropped off slightly prior to going into this training plan but I was stupidly reluctant / too proud to do another Ramp Test, so the level of difficulty was probably my fault! I quite often missed doing the the Free Ride session, just to give me a bit more of a break… to be fair, the text of the plan says that this is a good one to miss if you feel the need.

It appears that the Build Me Up plan has quite a reputation for being tough and lacking in recovery time.

What have I learned
Although I had a standard wheel-on turbo trainer prior to getting a direct drive model specifically to use on Zwift I have actually improved my FTP by 50 watts since April and lost 10kg even though I wasn’t really a ‘fat-boy’!

I read that a top Sports Physio said “I have never seen an over-trained athlete but I have frequently seen an under-rested one”. Let’s face it, Zwift Training Plans are not designed for oldies and Gunther’s 70-Year-old Plan is the perfect solution… just decide which workout(s) to miss from that week.

Nutrition is at least as key to performance as it was when I was younger, probably more so. Having around 1.5g/kg of Protein a day will seriously aid recovery as will being properly hydrated… check the colour of your pee.

Compensate for calories lost during training unless you’re intending to lose weight. If you are looking to shed a few pounds do so s…l…o…w…l…y to minimise the loss of lean tissue. Taking Omega 3 supplements will aid in this also.

Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t get all a workout’s stars. A workout that stretches you is a good workout. You need to be creating micro-tears in your muscles for them to build back stronger BUT you need to give your muscles the time to re-build. Never be afraid to allocate that time yourself, especially when Zwift doesn’t.

Training is as much mental as physical. Don’t be too hard on yourself… it’s difficult I know. Be kind to yourself. If you’re losing sleep through over-training, that’s your signal to cut back… do it or suffer the consequences. The consequences are a weaker performance overall and demotivation.

Thanks
Thank you again for your input and highlighting your problems. Perhaps one day Zwift will wake up to this issue.

Special thanks too to @Fez_Rockbottom @Ian_Jones_NSW_60 and @Tim_Camden_C for all your input. The Fast After 50 book sounds really interesting and I’ve literally just bought a copy on your advice!

See you in Watopia!

Kim

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Hi @Kim_Kendall , @Gunther_Stern , @Ian_Jones_NSW_60 , @Tim_Camden_C, thanks to all for your wonderful responses! Quite a bit for me to think about and work on! In particular I am going to finally sit down and calculate out what 1.5g/kg of protein would be for me and figure out how to get that into my diet. My husband rides a lot, so this will benefit him too. I am definitely in the need-too-lose-weight category so will have a look at the Omega 3 supplements - I hadn’t heard about that.

I hear what you are saying Kim about being reluctant to retake the ramp test! I really didn’t want to do that, but was embarrassed into it (which is another long story). The bottom line for me was that my FTP was set far higher than it needed to be to make the workouts work well for me.

And now I’m going to go check my husband’s bookshelf. I am sure we have Fast After 50. I guess I need to read it.

Looking forward to seeing you all out there!
Beth

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If you’re trying to increase protein, don’t overlook the ease and convenience of just incorporating eggs into your diet.
Protein doesn’t have to be hard and you don’t need to ingest it immediately after riding but daily is important.

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@Beth_Klawun also check the bookshelf for Fuelling the Cycling Revolution by Nigel Mitchell… a very approachable read with some excellent recipes scattered throughout too.

Keep up the good work!

Kim

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Hey, great question. At times, I feel like I’m still a teen on a bike, yet, I’m only months away from being 60! foolish ol man I am! I’ve been trying for quite a few years to improve my cycling, and Zwift will somehow do that for me. Training plans, great idea, which one?!

So sorry David, I seem to have missed replying. I have done both the FTP Builder and Gran Fondo training plans in the last 12 months. It depends what your goal of training is really.

FTP Builder is great to do at any time. Gran Fondo has you building up time in the saddle for over three hours in one session but if you’re looking to complete a long ride out on the road it’s great.

Both plans have increased my FTP. Search for reviews of the plans, then choose… some sound like they’re killers!

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Thank you for that information. You will not likely see much of me over the next 6 months, as I ride my other bike outside a LOT!, but usually for not more than 45 minu. Just wish I could do more than that, and do it all non-stop. I guess I should just get out and start riding, I don’t think there is anything wrong with my seat set-up, have had it checked out by a professional racer/long distance rider. Just wish I had someone to go with me on longer rides, not fast paced, and offer tips here and there. I feel so alone out on the bike by myself, but yes, that is part of what I like. Just wish I could have someone around once in a while.
David

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I’ll chime in again and say that I just finished the Pebble Pounder plan and really liked it. I had a few missed rides in the middle of the plan, but still managed to perform better than expected on the FTP test at the end. I enjoyed having more lower cadence work, which was a relief after the brutal (to me) high cadence parts that seemed to go on and on in BMU. I also think that the Short Burst and Hard Start workouts were helpful for group rides around Watopia or Pace Partner rides where I need to be able to put out a burst of power and then sustain power to keep up. I’m going to take a bit of time now to get in the Tour of Watopia rides and let my “biker’s elbow” heal up, but am looking forward to seeing which plan appeals to me next.

Are there no cycling clubs for your sort of riding nearby David?

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Congratulations Beth… great job! Look after that elbow and good luck with the TOW :blush:

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No current active bike clubs, and the ones I would like to connect with, members don’t seem to be to obliging to go on a ride with me to help me out. My goal is to ride 100 kms in one day. Would be nice to have someone help me get organized from step one!

Hi Dave @Biker_Dave! I have an idea! Are you on Strava? My husband rides a lot outdoors and in chasing KOMs on Strava has linked up with several riders in the area. Some of them he has not yet met in person, but communicates with only on Strava. And some he has gone on group rides with. My sense from what he says is that you can see who else is riding segments in your area. Give them kudos and see if you can strike up an acquaintance that way and find someone who would like to ride the 100km with you. I hope you find someone!

If you want calendar flexibility, I’d suggest doing plans in anything but Zwift. Everyone else gets it.