Training in alignment


Your words reached me when I was ready and needed to hear them. I’ve been struggling quite a bit over the last few months with establishing an effective and sustainable training practice during a time when my Total Life Stress Score (TLSS) is greatly upsetting my Life Stress Balance (LSB). My LSB has been pretty negative for quite some time and lately has impacted my ability to achieve restful sleep (interestingly, this is the same symptom of overtraining I’ve experienced in the past, I just didn’t recognize it this time because my training volume is pretty low right now). I’ve really just been hammering my head into the wall and been frustrated by my lack of progress. This episode inspired me to take a pause to recalibrate. So thank you for that.

On this topic, something I find interesting is that due to the lack of racing this year, the periodicity of the year has been disrupted. Picking up on your waves on the water, lately I have been sort of just thrashing, making lots of noise but not able to set the water in motion. So I wonder, with 2021 still being somewhat uncertain, do you have any thoughts on re-establishing that periodicity, getting moving again? I see so many of my peers shifting toward ultra endurance challenges that can be achieved without a defined “race” but I don’t think that my baseline TLSS admits that amount of training. Have you observed this? What’s an elastic-paradigm rider to do?!

In my professional life (as an engineer, predictable huh?) we talk about the concept of an “S” curve. The idea is that when you reach the top of the “S” you are in the domain of diminishing returns. But there’s more than one “S” curve. To get to a new curve, sometimes you need to take a step down to make additional progress. The warrior must become the child, so to say. Put down the three week planning spreadsheet and do the work that my body needs when it needs it!

Here’s an example if I’m not describing this concept:

Anyway, I appreciate your words on this subject, and the others you’ve discussed to date. Sometimes I don’t understand the metaphysical stuff, and sometimes I’m not totally on board, but I think I’ll understand when I’m ready.


@SteveHerman I’m intrigued by this topic and excited to see Colby’s response.

To your point of TLSS, LSB (love these terms by the way), and the ultra-endurance challenges many of us are shifting to, I hope to be able to contribute to your question somewhat. In an effort to play the lab rat role this year, I am planning to do the Breck Epic in August. The 6 day version of the stage race. Your post speaks to me in terms of a high TLSS and wonky LSB, so my goal is to essentially approach this training and even from the standpoint of what you suggested - and I like the way you phrased it -
put down the three week planning spreadsheet and do the work that the body needs when it needs it.

Realizing that I can never put in the training like Trevor (and knowing I’ll never be at that same level of fitness either!), nor can I handle some of those training loads even if time allowed, I’m going to approach training for an epic event in terms of applying a reasonable load as consistently as possible, digging in and doing more when time allows, but most of all putting a priority on dealing with the LSB in such a way that I am not pushing the training (the thing I can control) in such a way that it puts too much weight on the TLSS and further upsets the other life stressors (the things I can’t always control). In turn, the hope is this will help reduce anxiety about the race, allow for better sleep, more regular sleep patterns, and overall improved recovery.

I will be paying attention to certain metrics more than in past years, metrics that will give insight into “readiness” if you will. Strength training is also going to be a stronger piece of the puzzle this year as I feel strongly that remaining more well-rounded off the bike will help when August rolls around.

Anyway, I’m excited to hear Colby’s response because he always has great insights to topics like this. Just wanted to throw my 2 cents in there and say that hopefully this “lab rat” journey in 2021 that I’m taking might help as you see that journey evolve. And of course, I’ll be posting updates and doing other bits of content along the way to show the application of it all so everyone can learn from it.

Coach Ryan

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Thank you for posting this question Stephen.

You are making me laugh with your terms TLSS and LSB! Excellent use of consonants to convey your point and translate into cycling lexicon. I am very glad the episode helped you to recalibrate.

Agreed that with the racing season uncertain, it can make training a bit challenging and it can also result in effort without cohesive focus. This can definitely bring about more thrashing in the water. Some options:

  • just ride, and focus on flow. Have a loose structure to the week, but re-arrange the rides based on how the rhythm turns out. IE if you feel like climbing fast on Wednesday, climb fast. Then go easy Thursday. Aim for balance. One long or medium day; two short but hard days; other days easy. Plus strength, core, and mobility.

  • pick a Strava segment and target it as your “race”. Set a date. Put it on the calendar. If you need accountability, or are motivated by a duel, tell a training buddy. Start the segment with the weaker rider having a handicap [IE 30 seconds] and go for it. This way, the weaker rider is motivated to not get caught, and the stronger rider can chase the rabbit. If you calculate the handicap properly, stronger will catch weaker on the line.

  • make your focus 1 or 2 intense blocks of training that is an exclusive focus on your weakness. Do you suck a 3 minute intervals? Plan a block session of 4 or 5 days in a 7 day period. Rest going in, be motivated, execute, give yourself rest after. 2 weeks later, repeat. These blocks can have surprising results if done well and if you allow for recovery time.

Your comments and a few other discussions have inspired the topic of a new podcast which I may record this Thursday. I haven’t told @jana yet so don’t ruin the surprise. Your S curve model has me thinking about our conceptualizations of training and how they influence our behavior in making decisions. This is the core of the challenge/ opportunity.

As coach @ryan said, he may never be at Trevor’s level, but @trevor came into the office not that long ago with a Whoop score that was in the low single digits…we can give him a little * slack as he is basically starting a whole new business, but when Whoop tells you your recovery is <5%, you are not supposed to come to the office, you go back to bed. Clearly his TLSS was quite high and his LSB was way outta whack.

Just some thoughts.

Pedal fast and ride in flow -


Great topic and thoughts! My brain is firing on all cylinders thinking how it relates to me, how I have altered how I “plan” during this time (and plan to in the future), and the little things from our professions that provide concepts on training.

I am thinking there is some much bigger equation that determine LSB and TLSS where other factors - stress, fatigue, and fitness - for all parts of life…I appreciate my Family Fitness Score (the fun and other things I do with my wife and kids), but that Family Stress Score (dealing with WFH and kids at home and fighting, etc) can really bring down my FSB… :slight_smile:

…any getting back on topic…a lot of mind ramblings on different types of fatigue, fitness, stress, balance and s-curve thoughts to go on but none are completely baked yet…

One thing I have really been doing is what you have been saying “do the work my body needs when it needs it”. I haven’t thrown away the spreadsheet…yet…I do like to know where certain things are on the calendar (although they seem to be going away, but someday they will stay) to have an idea where I need to be. But I will only look and the current week to see what seems reasonable for my intended LSB. When I have the time to do training I do what the body needs - sometimes it is nothing and save it for the next time when maybe I will go a little harder than planned. I have gone through weeks where I can only get on the treadmill and run at threshold. Others where I can only do hard bike intervals…Those weeks where I can put in the volume and intensity are fun and I enjoy them when I have them. I am really enjoying sitting back and letting the wave of life determine what I am doing. Now I am in a good training flow - one good workout (threshold or intervals), followed by a rest/easy day, and then another shorter threshold day…repeat. I hope it can hold on for another month.

Anyway, thanks for the good question and concepts. I like when my thoughts fire this much in the morning.

This really resonates with me. I’ve been feeling burned out all the way back since last July, when my LSS was really high, and never fully recovered. I guess lockdown and the ever repeating groundhog Day don’t help in that.

I’m having to learn to just let things be, do what I can, and accept that most of the time, it just feels like work. When it feels to hard, I just cut back or back down, knowing that there’s value in not completely wearing down my ability to come back to it the next day.


I love this idea. In 2020, when fall racing seemed like a possibility, my focus was building toward my first ever 20 hour training week (I had a ton of vacation to burn off, so a stay-home training camp seemed like a good idea) to cap off the base building period. I got through it, but relative to my objectives/event demands I don’t think the mega volume week was really worth the time it took to recover. I think that holding a more sustainable volume for a longer period of time is a better way for me to build base.

On the other hand, the intensity block seems very interesting. I’ve never done that before. I am totally going to focus on that! This does seem to align more with my event demands since it is very common to have double race weekends in cyclocross. And in my local scene, the Sunday race tends to have the more competitive field.

As it turns out, my family is planning a May Florida vacation. I’m not going to spend the whole vacation riding my bike (because :palm_tree:), but I can easily envision doing two intensity blocks as you described, then use the Florida trip to get in, say, 2 hours a day of easy rides while the family is sleeping to really kick off my base build for the fall.

I dig @bgkeen’s comments regarding positive and negative drivers of LSB. I hope that my comment didn’t give the impression that family time is an energy-sink. On the contrary, spending a couple hours rolling around on the floor with my little man definitely elevates the mood and while physically exhausting, gives me purpose and motivation to get through the true LSB sinks. It’s really important to keep perspective on that!


Your S-curve chart reminds me of the Gartner Hype Cycle, which defines the stages of innovation enthusiasm. It has stages called “Trough of Disillusionment” and “Slope of Enlightenment”. I was introduced to it at a seminar on product development (I’m an engineer too), and I laughed out loud at the ‘trough of disillusionment’ until I realized the presenter was serious, and yeah, it’s really a thing. It’s mostly used in the area of venture capital investments, but could be applied to any new venture you might want to apply it to, especially expectations of results when adopting a new training program.

The names of the stages are in dark blue against the black banner under the chart.

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