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Recovery days causing fatigue

Old 01-26-22, 04:09 PM
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EPOisDope
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Recovery days causing fatigue

I've never really understood this, but almost without exception, if I'm fatigued from a training block and then either take a day off the following or do a recovery ride (30-40 minutes in zone 1), I will feel much worse the day afterwards than if I did another day at Zone 3 (tempo) or above. My legs don't actually hurt more - they just feel completely "flat", similar to what you feel if trying to ride when you have a cold / flu. If, instead of that recovery day, I did Zone 3 or above instead, my legs will still feel as though they needed recovery, but they won't feel nearly as flat and I'll be able to put out much more power. If I have a race on Saturday and am fatigued on Thursday, using Friday as a recovery day will end in disaster on Saturday, whereas doing at least high zone 2 / low zone 3, if not more, means that I'll at least be competitive. Once I start down the road of recovery days, it will take at LEAST 3 or 4 recovery days before my legs feel normal again - often more. It seems like most riders experience the opposite, where the day after an easy day means that they will be stronger - not sure why the opposite is true for me. Once a body begins to recover, does it need to 100% FULLY recover before applying any kind of training load again? Ironically, longer races are where I usually excel, so I would have thought that my ability to recover would be better than most, but that couldn't be further from the truth. I swear that the most mentally taxing part of any structured training plan are the dreaded recovery days.

Thanks,
Dave
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Old 01-26-22, 05:56 PM
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PeteHski
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Yeah I have this very problem too! I've just learned to accept it as part of the training process. I don't take full recovery days directly before an event for the exact reason you stated above. In fact I always schedule a fairly short but brisk "opener" session the day before to prime myself for the event. During training blocks I do 2/1 build/recovery week cycles and always feel like s*** at the start of a recovery week. I wonder if it's going cold-turkey from the sudden lack of exercise induced endorphins? But I usually feel much better toward the end of such an easy week.

My advice is not to fall into the trap of avoiding recovery days just because of this issue. Been there, done that and it doesn't end well in the long term. But maybe try some other physical activity unrelated to cycling that isn't too stressful e.g. go for a walk, swim or try a bit of yoga, meditation etc. I find these things can help with the psychology of a "recovery" day better than sitting on the couch surfing Netflix!
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Old 01-26-22, 09:41 PM
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I also have trouble with recovery days, what to do, etc. I do the same as PeteHski. If I've taken a day off 2 days before the long hard ride, I do an opener the day before, typically a warmup stairstep, a bit of recovery pedaling, then 3' at 115% FTP, then some more Z1 recovery. That's about 1/2 hour and there are many versions of openers. I often feel like I have bad legs after a recovery day, but they go away after a bit of hard riding. If you're going to a race, maybe bring a set of folding rollers and warmup in the parking lot. Thus I don't think it's necessary to take so much time off that my legs feel good. If I do that, my fitness takes a beating. I do better if I taper and stay active. This evening my legs till felt like crap after a hard Sunday ride, recovery rollers on Monday and a day off on Tuesday, so I did sweet spot intervals. My legs felt much better afterwards and I'll do another set tomorrow. That should fix me back up again.
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Old 01-26-22, 11:26 PM
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Different from the OP. From one day off, I'm loving the feeling of fresh rested legs.

Now 3-4 days off and I start getting those deconditioning cramps. That's real bummer. I try not to get into that situation, but sometimes life intervenes.
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Old 01-27-22, 02:45 AM
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Rest day before race is a big mistake. Don't do it.

If the race is an A or B event (key events of the season), you should have tapered much earlier. During race week, cut volume but make sure you get sufficient intensity and do not do nothing the days even before an A or B race, just do less than normal. If legs are flat on race day, do a bigger warmup
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Old 01-27-22, 07:30 AM
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This is a bit of a controversial topic in the cycling world, but wondering if you do weight training? Here's a good video asking the question of whether weights show positive results on the bike.


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Old 01-27-22, 08:14 AM
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Originally Posted by work4bike View Post
This is a bit of a controversial topic in the cycling world, but wondering if you do weight training? Here's a good video asking the question of whether weights show positive results on the bike.


https://youtu.be/zPCW57-rcEs
Weight training definitely does NOT count as a recovery activity. It adds significant fatigue and therefore needs its own recovery time. If I did weight training on my recovery days I would soon dig myself into a hole.
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Old 01-27-22, 08:21 AM
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Originally Posted by work4bike View Post
This is a bit of a controversial topic in the cycling world, but wondering if you do weight training? Here's a good video asking the question of whether weights show positive results on the bike.


https://youtu.be/zPCW57-rcEs
I would advise caution. It's a lot easier to injure yourself weight training.
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Old 01-27-22, 11:10 AM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski View Post
Weight training definitely does NOT count as a recovery activity. It adds significant fatigue and therefore needs its own recovery time. If I did weight training on my recovery days I would soon dig myself into a hole.
I understand it does not count as a recovery activity; however, it does give the body another form of stimulus. Doing too much of one exercise leads to issues of overuse injuries, plateauing and mental fatigue. I'm not sure if this is an issue for the OP, but it's a possible factor. I know this seems counterintuitive for some, but weightlifting can very much help with cycling, at least that's been my experience.

I knew this was a controversial topic, but it is becoming less so, because more and more cyclists are turning to weight training as indicated in the above video and here's just one more example: https://www.bicycling.com/training/g...in-like-a-pro/



.
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Old 01-27-22, 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted by MinnMan View Post
...3-4 days off and I start getting those deconditioning cramps.
Back in the day for a ride over 60 miles or a hard 20 it was two days off. Then for short hard climbing rides of 15 miles one day off. But now days its like I never recover so I just ride short rides everyday if possible. Two or three days of no ride bad weather can really put a stinger in my ridding. I am not as strong as other 69 year old riders but by ridding every day just short rides I can at least stay up on a long ride if needed...
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Old 01-27-22, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by work4bike View Post
I understand it does not count as a recovery activity; however, it does give the body another form of stimulus. Doing too much of one exercise leads to issues of overuse injuries, plateauing and mental fatigue. I'm not sure if this is an issue for the OP, but it's a possible factor. I know this seems counterintuitive for some, but weightlifting can very much help with cycling, at least that's been my experience.

I knew this was a controversial topic, but it is becoming less so, because more and more cyclists are turning to weight training as indicated in the above video and here's just one more example: https://www.bicycling.com/training/g...in-like-a-pro/



.
I'm all for weight training as part of cycling fitness, just not as a recovery exercise. Going for a walk is recovery. Basic Yoga is recovery. Lifting weights not so much.
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Old 01-27-22, 01:53 PM
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Originally Posted by work4bike View Post
I understand it does not count as a recovery activity; however, it does give the body another form of stimulus. Doing too much of one exercise leads to issues of overuse injuries, plateauing and mental fatigue. I'm not sure if this is an issue for the OP, but it's a possible factor. I know this seems counterintuitive for some, but weightlifting can very much help with cycling, at least that's been my experience.

I knew this was a controversial topic, but it is becoming less so, because more and more cyclists are turning to weight training as indicated in the above video and here's just one more example: https://www.bicycling.com/training/g...in-like-a-pro/



.
IMO, you're getting a bit off topic. Please let it rest, pun fully intended.

Otherwise, the body responds to stimulus when you give it a chance to. This feeling is perhaps the body rebuilding fibers, mitochondria, plasma volume. A necessary part of adapting/growing your ability on the bike.

The time for that kind of recovery is within your plan to get ready for racing. If you're close to a race, you taper. You lessen volume and maintain, or increase, intensity. Instead of hours of sweetspot each week before TT's, reduce volume and get into threshold. Then get into upper threshold and low low vo2, but low volume week with days off in between.

This is where folks say you only ever truly have a couple A races per year as you can't do the A race taper every week for everything you do.

When I do cross season, two of the home course races are A's, the rest are B/C's. Meaning for the C's I don't adjust training volume/intensity at all other than not doing something stupid a day from the race. For B's I might be more careful from Thurs/Fri to Sat/Sun than just being off on the day before.

If you treated all like A races, your first one or two A's would go fine. Then you'd start losing fitness as the season progresses because your volume plummeted and you can't repeat the all-out efforts all the time.
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Old 01-27-22, 09:39 PM
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The responses here match what I've been seeing for as long as I've been riding - everyone responds to recovery days differently. Regarding strength training, while I don't deny the importance of it, I haven't noticed a difference in seasons when I have done weight training (deadlifts, single-legged squats and abdominal exercises) vs those when I haven't, such as this off-season as I'm fighting a bit of "runner's knee". I've been in this game for a long time, and trying to figure out how to properly recover continues to be BY FAR the most difficult part to get right. I took yesterday off completely, which is a rare thing, and today my legs were, unsurprisingly, flat as I did a 50-minute SST session. My CTL is almost always between 100 and 130, which means a weekly TSS of at least 700 pretty much all year. That being said, it makes me wonder if the root of the problem is that I never have a FULL recovery period, which would probably mean 4-5 days of extremely easy recovery days, or perhaps even more. While I'm not suggesting that every single recovery period needs to be a full recovery, maybe having a couple full recovery periods each year will allow me to recover from training blocks better during the next several months? It's just so psychologically difficult to do a full recovery period where you let your fitness decline on purpose and hope that you'll come back stronger.
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Old 01-28-22, 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by EPOisDope View Post
The responses here match what I've been seeing for as long as I've been riding - everyone responds to recovery days differently. Regarding strength training, while I don't deny the importance of it, I haven't noticed a difference in seasons when I have done weight training (deadlifts, single-legged squats and abdominal exercises) vs those when I haven't, such as this off-season as I'm fighting a bit of "runner's knee". I've been in this game for a long time, and trying to figure out how to properly recover continues to be BY FAR the most difficult part to get right. I took yesterday off completely, which is a rare thing, and today my legs were, unsurprisingly, flat as I did a 50-minute SST session. My CTL is almost always between 100 and 130, which means a weekly TSS of at least 700 pretty much all year. That being said, it makes me wonder if the root of the problem is that I never have a FULL recovery period, which would probably mean 4-5 days of extremely easy recovery days, or perhaps even more. While I'm not suggesting that every single recovery period needs to be a full recovery, maybe having a couple full recovery periods each year will allow me to recover from training blocks better during the next several months? It's just so psychologically difficult to do a full recovery period where you let your fitness decline on purpose and hope that you'll come back stronger.
Woah! 700 TSS all-year round is pretty hardcore. Are you sure your symptoms are not from overtraining? Do you sleep okay during recovery periods? That's usually a good indicator.
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Old 01-28-22, 10:47 PM
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4-5 days of recovery? How about a month? I'm never completely off, but in the fall I typically let my CTL go down to around 40 by doing other fun things a bit sporadically, though I never completely rest. Then I build back up starting in late September. I do the usual supercompensation thing where I go gradually harder for 2-3 weeks, then an easy week where my CTL drops by quite a bit. That's a good thing. I schedule this out way in advance in TrainingPeaks, then modify as seems appropriate in real time.

I like the cyclical nature, like the seasons. Am I stronger every year? Well, not anymore because I'm older every year, but every year I learn new things which is at least as good.
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