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When intervals are too much - abandon, shorten or reduce intensity?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
We've all had those days ... an ambitious interval session that we hit with a bit too much fatigue/stress/whatever and just can't pull off the intervals at the desired intensity without really digging deep.

There are a few options the way I see it:

1) Just dig in and suffer and possibly overstress yourself
2) Abandon the effort and spin home for some rest
3) Do some steady endurance pace stuff instead.
4) Keep doing the intervals at the same power but shorten them
5) Keep doing the intervals at the same length but decrease the power

I know it depends on a lot of factors but, in general, I'm just interested in how others handle this. I usually just go for #3
post #2 of 7

Re: When intervals are too much - abandon, shorten or reduce intensity?

Well like you mention, it depends on several factors. Here are a couple of them that I take into account to handle this situation:
  • How far are you from being able to book them
Impossible to do is fairly different than much harder than expected
  • Where are you in term of over reaching
Maybe this quality workout is the last one of the bunch of quality workouts aimed at creating some fatigue. In this case, if really killing yourself is the goal then I'd modify it but would still leave it as an Interval workout.
On the other hand, if this quality workout has to be followed by other quality workouts scheduled to be done with a load of pre-existing fatigue (significant overreaching here) then I may simply abandon the interval session for now to preserve more important quality work to come
  • Any suspicion of an upcoming cold or flu or other bug?
Then your choice #3 is the best. Turn this thing into a lower endurance base workout and wait a day or two to see if a cold will surface
  • Are you riding on an empty glycogen tank?
If so, then stop training. Period. Try to understand how you could end up with an empty tank. No one should schedule quality work when not enough glyco available. So what happened? Feeding issue? Poor planning (e.g. quality work scheduled too early after extra longish ride? etc...)
  • Tried this session early morning when you're not used to perform quality work?
Not everyone can perform intervals early in the morning. If you don't intend to race that early then you may want to keep this sort of work for the evening.

That's just few examples pulled out of a list of elements that should also include the goals perused during this phase of training you're in etc...
post #3 of 7

Re: When intervals are too much - abandon, shorten or reduce intensity?

Quote:
Originally Posted by perrygeo View Post
....I know it depends on a lot of factors but, in general, I'm just interested in how others handle this. I....
I usually drop down one level in terms of workout type and if that's still too much I spin home figuring I need the extra rest so that I can stay on track for future days.

So if I've planned high L4 work for instance 12 to 15 minute efforts at or above FTP I might drop down to long and low L4 work (20 - 30 minutes at 90-95%) or if I've planned long and low L4 work I might drop down to high to mid Tempo. If I've got to go all the way down to endurance pace then I figure I probably shouldn't be training.

Things that might change that are if the following day is already planned for rest or I'm trying to dig a deep hole prior to travel or some other planned training interruption then I might do the lower work just to burn calories and earn TSS prior to planned rest. But I'd rather get back on track for a planned quality workout the following day than get a couple of mediocre workouts if I'm struggling with recovery.

-Dave
post #4 of 7

Re: When intervals are too much - abandon, shorten or reduce intensity?

Whatever you do, don't sweat it. One bad workout, or even two in a row, is no big deal at all and makes no difference. If I can I drop down and try to stick it out a bit, but if I can't I honestly don't care -- just spin home and don't get worked up about it.
post #5 of 7

Re: When intervals are too much - abandon, shorten or reduce intensity?

2, 3, and 5 are the options that I've employed depending (there's that word again) on any one of the factors the previous contributors stated.
post #6 of 7

Re: When intervals are too much - abandon, shorten or reduce intensity?

If I don't feel like intervals, but am still okay with riding (usually the case) then #3. If neither, then #2.
post #7 of 7

Re: When intervals are too much - abandon, shorten or reduce intensity?

Funny you should ask, because I just had such a day today. I planned on 1 hr L4 hard indoors (1h 15 min total) and considered yesterday's short sprint session (first in 2-3 months) to be just an "opener" ride. After 15 minutes I knew L4 wasn't going to happen so I backed off to L3 for another 15 minutes to finish off a 30 min interval, cooled down for 10, and I was done after only 50 min total. I thought that trying to finish full 60 even at L3 would not be smart, since the legs told me they needed rest. So I guess it was #2.
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