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Rest Week Lethargy

Old 10-06-11, 05:47 PM
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Rest Week Lethargy

I'm in the middle of a rest week and for probably for the 3rd or 4th time this season I've felt really lethargic all week. My training has been pretty consistent and taxing all season, and I've generally always taken rest weeks every fourth week or after big races. I thought I'd be feeling much "fresher" at the end of these weeks instead of so damn tired.

For this rest week I've stayed completely off the bike for four days straight since my season is winding up. After reading through some old posts on rest weeks some people mentioned that they thought it was important to keep riding at much lower intensities to help remedy this (recovery or endurance rides). Does anyone else have any experience like this? I can't tell if my body is really recuperating or if I'm just feeling sluggish from the lack of activity.
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Old 10-06-11, 05:56 PM
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Everyone's different, but if I take more than 2 days off the bike in a row, it actually hurts to start riding again with the same intensity, and I find I really can't do it. After a day of trying, my body gets back into the swing of things, but that first day back on is a bear..

So after some trial and error, I've made it my rule that rest weeks are more about reducing volume, but I still try to have some intensity in there and try to not take more than 2 days off. I also stretch/hit the foam roller.

So, if I've been riding 15 hours a week, I might cut back to 7 or 8 on my rest week, and still have some intensity in there, but just not as much.
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Old 10-06-11, 06:28 PM
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Ken is correct, everyone is different.
Is there a reason you needed a rest week? Or are you just following the crowd?
If you are not actually sore/fatigued, i would not recommend a break on purpose.
And even then, it would be just enough to get your vigor back.

Most guys on this board seem to believe they are needed, I say think for yourself.
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Old 10-06-11, 10:19 PM
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Is there a reason you needed a rest week? Or are you just following the crowd?
This particular week is my official "i'm done with regimented training" for the year. but in the past I've been following the classic Friel model (which my coach from this year followed as well) of 3 weeks hard, 1 week easy. Typically I do feel like i need a rest by week four. do you keep building intensity week after week until you need a break?
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Old 10-06-11, 10:20 PM
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Originally Posted by kensuf
Everyone's different, but if I take more than 2 days off the bike in a row, it actually hurts to start riding again with the same intensity, and I find I really can't do it. After a day of trying, my body gets back into the swing of things, but that first day back on is a bear..

So after some trial and error, I've made it my rule that rest weeks are more about reducing volume, but I still try to have some intensity in there and try to not take more than 2 days off. I also stretch/hit the foam roller.

So, if I've been riding 15 hours a week, I might cut back to 7 or 8 on my rest week, and still have some intensity in there, but just not as much.
maybe i fall in to this category as well. I'll have to experiment for the next rest week and see if what you do works better.
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Old 10-07-11, 07:06 AM
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I find during/immediately after the rest week I feel like total crap, maybe even worse than the week before. I usually feel really good at the end of the first week in the next block though. Dunno why that is.
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Old 10-07-11, 08:24 AM
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Rest weeks are highly overrated.
If you are that tired, take a nap.
If you are still tired, take another.
Forcing a rest week upon an athlete is like saying, I want to lose what I have been building.
If you have that much fatigue, then you are playing with fire anyway.

I will say there are a few people on this board that swear by planned rest weeks. For the majority though, it is an unwise decision. Better to just back off for a couple days when needed, then straight back into consistent, regular work. The athlete's body needs a steady rhythm, not shut downs.
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Old 10-07-11, 08:29 AM
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Physiologically, it's because your body is healing during the rest week and once you start training again you're starting back over. That's why I still continue to do some intensity even though I cut way back on volume.

Signs you need a rest week:

1. workouts aren't at the same level as you would expect (200w feels like 300, etc)
2. sleep disruption
3. your resting pulse when you wake up is way off the mark (like racing) from your normal resting pulse
4. have trouble getting your HR up (or it goes way too high for an effort)

Signs you're overreaching:

1. You get a case of the "kensuf's" and go midevil on people for no reason.
2. Irritability / crankiness
3. Lack of ability to concentrate.
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Old 10-07-11, 08:56 AM
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Originally Posted by kensuf
Physiologically, it's because your body is healing during the rest week and once you start training again you're starting back over. That's why I still continue to do some intensity even though I cut way back on volume.
And there's a point about "rest" if you're following periodization. It's not get off and do nothing, but rather a reduction in training load to allow recovery from fatigue (mental and physical).

FWIW I feel like total carp if I take too many days in a row off the bike without any exercise...body gets creaky and I get a little depressed. Part of the OP's "fatigue" likely comes from a lack of exercise produced endorphins...it's a bit like knocking off heroin.

My own take on off season "recovery" is to recharge mentally as much as physically. I think a lot of "burnout" comes from the stress of racing, life disruption associated with travel, and the fact that by September all I'm subconsciously associating the bike with is pain. I start cross exercising (as opposed to structured training), and when I do ride I try to make it fun...go explore, pack some good eats, and if it's cold toss a little Gran Marnier into the insulated bottle.

As YMCA pointed out, everyone's different though; some people look at the off season as a good chance to get back on the rollers and do 20 minute intervals. They are, of course, completely insane.

Originally Posted by kensuf
Signs you're overreaching:

1. You get a case of the "kensuf's" and go midevil on people for no reason.
2. Irritability / crankiness
3. Lack of ability to concentrate.
I've been over reaching all my life apparently.

I'd love to write more, but Ridley is telling me that tennis balls don't throw themselves.

Last edited by Racer Ex; 10-07-11 at 09:08 AM.
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Old 10-07-11, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Racer Ex
\

some people look at the off season as a good chance to get back on the rollers and do 20 minute intervals. They are, of course, completely insane.



Steinberg, you gonna take that?
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Old 10-07-11, 09:37 AM
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ethman, it's hard for me to believe 4 days totally off the bike is needed unless you are injured. Yikes - I'd want to kill somebody.

On a related note that seems to also apply to the OP, what do people think about the off-season break? Coach just put me on 4 weeks of no structured training. I'm supposed to ride for fun, if and when I want, and try not to have too much fun, especially since the rides I enjoy most are the group hammerfests and training crits. I'm also supposed to get into the swing of gym strength training (always hard for me to do consistently) and play other sports (basketball and tennis in my case). Since I just finished my first season, this is my first off-season, and I'm worried that I'll lose too much of what I've gained. I don't have years of base, and feel like I'm missing time I could spend building that. I truly struggle with this aspect of the sport: periodization, where to focus training time, testing to monitor progress, etc. And I'm the type that wants to understand it, as opposed to just leaving it all to a coach. Damn. See? This is the kind of thing I'm supposed to be taking a mental break from. Maybe my off-season should be a break from BF, during which I ride the heck out of the bike!
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Old 10-07-11, 09:50 AM
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I think it's important for mental recharge for many of the reasons that Ex outlined in his well thought out response above.
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Old 10-07-11, 10:05 AM
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Originally Posted by ethman
... the classic Friel model ... of 3 weeks hard, 1 week easy
lulz at the noobs who think Friel invented periodization...
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Old 10-07-11, 10:19 AM
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Originally Posted by kensuf
I think it's important for mental recharge for many of the reasons that Ex outlined in his well thought out response above.
My questions were well answered by Ex before my post hit. Thanks. You guys are in line with my coach. Go figger.
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Old 10-07-11, 10:30 AM
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make sure to get a good nights rest...joe friels trademark 7-9 hours per night should do the trick

a nutritious diet also helps...maybe look into the friel theory of eating healthy food
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Old 10-07-11, 10:40 AM
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The most time I take off the bike is one day unless I am sick.

Last year, I started racing January 1st and finished the season racing masters worlds track the first week of October. That was too much. This year, I delayed starting racing and focused on track instead of road and track. My last race was last week and I feel great. I did less racing with more focus.

Now I am into the gym for leg work and less riding and no racing. In previous years, I did a hill climb series in the fall and it was too much. Schlepping equipment around, getting ready for races, setting up trainers and all the other stuff required for racing also drains on me mentally.

However, I am going to keep some structure to my training and throw in some hard efforts. I will pass on the 20 minute z4s on the rollers but I may do some 100 rpm SST.

Gran Marnier... Why didn't I think of that.
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Old 10-07-11, 12:02 PM
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I think it's important to take time off. I usually take a week off when my season is done, and the next three weeks are "ride for fun" only (which will include some group rides, but if I want to go off the back and be social, I do that). The goal is to be really looking forward to training for next year when the training season starts. I don't want to hammer myself all year, get burnt out and quit. I've already done that once. I made myself hate riding and as a result I was off the bike for 8 years.

I know I am losing fitness but I seem to be able to be fit for the races I care about (I usually aim for a peak in April or early May, and another one in September). Even with the easy month I don't lose that much, and it builds year over year.

Try to make the time off count for something- do all those things you have been putting off because you're busy training. Have some family time. Etc.

To answer the OP's question, I feel funny and go slow the first ride after a rest. I've heard it called being "blocked". I don't know the physiological mechanisim that causes it.
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Old 10-07-11, 12:43 PM
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I agree with ericm979's sentiments.

After a full season of training and racing it is normal to be zonked and 4 days isn't really all that long to be off the bike. After my last race this year I took I think 8 or 9 days off with no riding except for commuting and it was awesome. After a couple weeks of much lower volume and intensity I felt really refreshed and unbelievably strong on the bike. Of course shortly after that fitness started to dip noticeably.

Also, I've taken some time to work on projects and hobbies outside of cycling that were seriously neglected for the past 6 months.
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Old 10-07-11, 12:53 PM
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Originally Posted by kj5423
...joe friels trademark 7-9 hours per night should do the trick...
And He invented sleeping, too!
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Old 10-07-11, 01:43 PM
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Lay off Friel. He's not one of those big ego guys. OK, he wrote a book called the Bible. Granted. But he's the last guy who'll tell you he knows everything.
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Old 10-07-11, 02:05 PM
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hah i was just joking. i love that book, and friel seems like a nice enough guy.

but i did read a quote from him in a magazine once..."i invented sleeping. and the bicycle." - joe friel. might be wrong though
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Old 10-07-11, 09:26 PM
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Just poking fun at the newbs... not at Friel, who most definitely knows his stuff.

One of my geezer friends calls it "seeing the sun rise for the first time, and thinking it's the first time ever" - a trait common to the young.
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Old 10-08-11, 01:57 PM
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Since I have started increasing my volume I have been feeling very fatigued. I credit some of it to my effort to lose weight. Reductions in calories makes me tired without 10 hours a week of riding.
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Old 10-08-11, 03:26 PM
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Thanks for the posts, this has helped put things into perspective. I'll have to experiment some more next season with rest weeks.

lulz at the noobs who think Friel invented periodization...
And apparently I'll have to do research on how cyclists trained back in the days of the pennyfarthing just so I don't come off as such a newb. Didn't realize quoting Friel was so passe. Maybe I should start by reading the life and times of Fausto Coppi??? I'm sure the combination of riding a 40 lb bike in the Pyrenees along with a good amount of amphetamines might harden me up....
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Old 10-08-11, 03:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Creakyknees
Just poking fun at the newbs... not at Friel, who most definitely knows his stuff.

One of my geezer friends calls it "seeing the sun rise for the first time, and thinking it's the first time ever" - a trait common to the young.
The important thing is that everyone, new and old, enjoys that sunrise.
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