No rest? Active rest? Total rest?

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by kmavm, Oct 11, 2006.

  1. kmavm

    kmavm New Member

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    Warning! Coaching question ahead! No good answers are likely to exist, pubmed isn't helping, etc.

    I'm a self-coached male, 28-year-old "perennial" cat 5. I only have the time and opportunity to race 5 or 6 times a year, and I prefer hill climbs and time trials to mass-start events. (This situation on the whole is fine with me, by the way; I'm unaffected by "upgrade fever," and am fundamentally cool with my existence straddling the worlds of racing and recreational riding. And trust me, I ain't sandbagging.)

    I LOVE riding my bike, and I train pretty seriously. My peak FT this year was 4.4 w/kg, and I'm probably around 4.3 w/kg at this writing (more from gaining weight than losing FT). My typical CTL is in the range of 90-105 TSS points, and an average week is probably 11-13 hours. Those aren't garbage hours, either; most of the time, I "go hard or go home." Weekly IF's are always over 0.8, and occasionally over 0.9.

    My last goal event of 2006 was on October 1st, and I did a good deal better than I had hoped. I'm very, very pleased with my year overall, and it's time to look towards 2007.

    On the one hand, I favor RapDaddyo's, "more-is-better/overtraining-is-a-myth" approach on paper. I really do think the term "overtraining" gets thrown around way too much, and it's pretty amazing how much aerobic fitness you can lose with even a short break. (E.g., a 10-day break earlier in the year took me about 6 weeks to fully recover my previous FT.)

    On the other hand, I can't help but notice that I've spent much of the last month fighting off various URIs; my sleep quality is suffering; and I'm having a lot of trouble with staying on my diet, as evidenced by my blindingly-rapid addition of about 7 pounds of body weight over the last two months. I see strangers running by outside, and think something like: "Running! Wouldn't a nice RUN hit the spot right now! Too bad I'm too into cycling to ever get any good at running. All that DOMS would realy screw up the 2x20s I'm going to do tomorrow, too. :(." Mentally, if nothing else, I feel a need for some sort of a break.

    The question is, what sort? I'm torn, so I'm doing what any reasonable person would do: ask a bunch of strangers on the internet! If you were me, would you take a "break" of some sort? If so, of what kind? Keep cycling, but at lower intensity/volume? Mix in some running or something with the cycling, just for fun? Let the bike gather cobwebs while I, like, nordic-ski or something? Real, no-fooling "couch time"? Regardless of the type of break, how would I know the break is over? I'm also very anxious about gaining even more weight during that break, and about the inevitable loss in fitness. While I realize I'll have time to "gain it back" before the season begins, part of me wonders how much forward progress the step backwards will end up costing me. I know a lot of guys who don't make progress season-after-season despite training hard, and I've always sort of suspected it was because they start over from square zero every year.
     
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  2. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

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    Brother, I feel your pain! :( After racing ended in June, I decided to ride the MS150 with my 10-yr old daughter on a tandem, so it was back to training. Training - training - training. Not that I dislike training, but the goal of training is to ride other people into the ground, not ride myself into the ground towing around an extra 70 lbs around with her legs seemingly *resting* on the pedals. Don't get me wrong, she did fantastic and I enjoyed that ride, but when I got off that bike, I was off the bike! I haven't had any physical ailments, but bike training has been pretty far from my mind since then.

    What have I done? Pursued other interests, caught up on family time and household chores, chatted with my teammates and internet cycling buddies, etc. Basically, I'm waiting for the cycling bug to take hold again. I know I've lost a few watts, and probably put on a few pounds, but that intensity and desire just have to be there before I can go again. I know the trainer is waiting for me down in the lab, but I have to wait until the call is undeniable before I respond. I think I've learned a lot about how to train this year (again, this year...) so I still haven't lost hope that I can be where I need to by race time. Lord knows I was chomping hard at the bit about 4 weeks early last year.

    If you love something, let it go.... :cool:
     
  3. dhk2

    dhk2 Active Member

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    I'm not a cycling coach, but will jump in with an opinion: a lot of self-coached racers are training too hard, too often, and as a result not realizing their potential. From the problems you describe with URI, poor sleep and ravenous hunger, sounds very possible that your body is fighting hard to keep up with the load.

    11-13 hours a week, "going hard or going home" sounds pretty tough to this old guy. You're young and maybe can handle the workload week after week, but perhaps you'd make more progress with less hours and/or intensity. The fact that you describe yourself as a "perennial" Cat 5 makes me think that training overload could be blocking your progress rather than helping.

    It might be worth your money to seek out a good coach who can do an assessment and give you personal recommendations. One of the master's racers here did that a couple of years ago. The coach did some testing, reviewed his training routine, and cut him back about 50% on the weekly hours. He said it was the best money he's ever spent on cycling: after just a few months with the coach, he saw big gains "by training smarter, not harder".

    Off-season time away from the bike might be just what you need. In mid-Sept we had our annual club century, and were honored to have this year's winner of the Masters TT World Championship (30-39 age group) ride with us. He mentioned afterwards that he hadn't ridden our club event in years, since late-Sep/Oct are usually off-season months for him when he's normally away from the bike. He took it easy and had fun on the ride, letting a some of the local hotshots beat him home.
     
  4. whoawhoa

    whoawhoa New Member

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    Ugh. Burnout. In my very brief experience, the only thing you can do is cut back some, if not take some time off the bike. For me, it took a full week off followed by a month of little of riding. At the time I was still racing, so I basically did maybe 1 ride a week followed by a weekend of racing. I don't think I lost more than 10 or so watts at FTP during the entire period. I did do a three-four day block before a more important race. Now I'm done road racing for the year, and back training consistenly, although I'm saving the big stuff for much later.
    Since you're not racing, my suggestion would be a brief period off, followed by a period with the occasional moderate-tough group rides.
     
  5. RapDaddyo

    RapDaddyo Active Member

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    I go through periods where I don't feel like training intensively, but I never run out of "projects" that keep me on the bike. For example, I have several projects going on right now with my club (e.g., <5 hour century ride) and I'm organizing a set of weekend ride trips to take advantage of the incredible wealth of great rides within 4-6 hours driving time from Las Vegas (I feel like a kid in a candy store). Plus, I'm constantly in "the lab" designing and testing power-based pacing strategies. And, I can't wait to get some time in the San Diego wind tunnel to test TT positions. The list goes on. What I really hate is getting back to some reasonable level of fitness after taking a long break, so that is about as appealing to me as dental surgery. I think if I did have the desire to get off the bike for awhile, I would go cold turkey -- I wouldn't ride at all for a month or two and would come back knowing that it would take me ~3 months to reach any reasonable level of fitness.
     
  6. BlueJersey

    BlueJersey New Member

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    I am with RD with this one. Some riders do better after couple of days of complete rest. Others do better while their legs are feeling some slight fitigue. I am the latter. If my training weeks haven't been intense enough or too much of a training load, and if I take a complete rest day during my day off, my body would just shut down the next time I ride. The key is that you should cut down your volume by 50% just when you think you have too much training load or feeling somewhat tire. Don't completely stop riding your bike. Just ride a lot less for 2 to 3 weeks. You will bounce back. Guess how I got through my 7 months season. Right now I am very eager to get in some good base miles with worth while intensity and volume. Been taking protein supplement everyday and every night and couldn't be happier. I can recover quicker. I feel less fatigue even during a very long sesson of high tempo workout.


     
  7. gvanwagner

    gvanwagner New Member

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    You could try this, over the next week workout 3 times. Make all of them either structured L4 workouts under 40min work time or just go out to the local long climb and climb however hard you feel- then go home. The other four days don;t ride at all. that drops you to 3 hours in a week so you keep some fitness by a tiny amount of "training" but you unload a lot of negative fatigue. Oh, and just as important- one of your days off- don't replace it with yard work or whatever- just lay on the coach and be lazy, you'll really begin to miss the days of huge miles real fast.

    On an unrelated topic- this is why I like blocvk training because after 2 days away you completely forgot how deep you buried yourself and really want to do it again. Same principle
     
  8. gvanwagner

    gvanwagner New Member

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    Oh and also the same applies with taking an end of season break- After doing normal training for a month or two you don't feel any different whether you've taking 3 days or 3 months off- except of course fitness wise.
     
  9. fergie

    fergie Member

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    So what is your performance manager telling you. I am back in the negatives and have either medium or hard days ahead of me. I will be tested on my Sunday ride so will be interesting to see what happens after two more days riding.

    Hamish Ferguson
     
  10. BullGod

    BullGod New Member

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    I am a firm believer in matching training to the competition you're doing. For example, in the lower categories race distances are shorter and there are less races. So i would say that for Cat 5 / recreational 15 hrs is a lot. I race cat 1 and I would regard 15 hrs as a "good week" for me. I'm not sure too many pro riders get more than 20 hours done to be honest, and they will frequently take blocks of rest.

    If I am riding mainly crits (often 3 or 4 times a week) and short RR's I'll keep my training realistic and appropriate - lots of 5 hour rides wouldn't really help, better 5 x 1 hour of seriosuly hard intervals and sprints with some recovery... If I have some longer races coming up I need to know that I can go hard for 4 hours, but riding 4 hours a day for 2 weeks doesn't actually ensure this. Far more sensible to ride 4 hrs once a week, and mix in some quality intervals I would say.

    I really think you can't go wrong with 3 weeks of training 4/5 times a week ( eg. 1x intervals, 1 x endurance 1x sprints 1x recovery and 2 days off the bike) and then a weeks "active rest", with maybe a couple of easy rides. Then repeat with higher intensity, and always make sure your training matches your racing.

    I don't want to start a row but I think a lot of lower cat and recreational riders are falling into the trap of equating volume and duration with improvement. Long steady distance training only makes you good at long steady distance. work on speed, and then work on increasing the durations at which you can hold that speed.
     
  11. jeff828

    jeff828 New Member

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    Sounds like burnout to me. Read any cycling training book and they will give you clear signs of over doing it. Two main ones is high resting HR, weight gain/loss, sleep patterns not normal, like waking up 2 hour earlier than normal totally feeling rested or that groggy feeling when you wake, craving sweets etc.


    I agree with dhk2 & definitly with bullgods reply.
    I would cut the riding & intensity down. I went from training 6 days a week years ago, to only doing 4 days and am getting alot stronger & staying motivated. Progress is on the recovery days, not really the breaking down day.

    Monday=light ride 1-1/2hrs under 20mph
    Tuesday= 2-3x20min L4s OR 6x4min L5s
    Wed=completely off to recover
    Thurs=2-3x20min L4s OR 6x4min L5s
    Friday=completely off to recover
    Saturday=4-5hr group ride OR race
    Sunday=completely off to recover
    Then monday starts all over again

    This pattern seems to work great for me, the days off give me total rest mentally & physically. With this program I can race competitively as a Cat3, in crits & 75mi road races, I have also been racing over 10 years.
    You must find what works for you, some guys dont like taking complete days off, some do.
     
  12. SolarEnergy

    SolarEnergy New Member

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    This season I didn't feel like taking a break off bike. I just didn't train enough for that (CTL = 60 tss/d).

    But I think it's important to release the pressure a bit though. To mark the transition phase by making sure you allow for psychological recovery.

    For me this year, pretty simple : I lowered my FTP value within CyclingPeaks. I did that to not worry about the Road-to-Trainer transition, but also not to worry period.

    I think the keyword here is "worry". I want to temporary remove this word from my vocabulary for a month or so.
     
  13. kmavm

    kmavm New Member

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    It's lying to me :). My CTL is slowly coming down from the high-90's to the low 90's, so I'm "positive" most days, but in name only. Going hard just feels wretched. A benchmark hill climb I attempted earlier this week was over 10% off my season's best :(. I think "CTL fixation" has something to do with the rut I'm in; I keep telling myself I'm taking a break, but once I see that CTL number trending down, I just get anxious and the next thing I know my pleasure cruise turns into a 200 TSS point workout.

    I think the only way to break that habit is by brute force. I'm doing some business travel over the weekend, so I'm avoiding the bike. I'm doing some short, casual running every other day, which is invigorating and PLEASURABLE even if it isn't doing much to maintain fitness. Bike rides used to be pleasurable too, and I think I need to just chill until they become so again for me. Most mornings I still wake up feeling kinda like a truck hit me. I get back home on Tuesday, and we'll see if the bike is whispering
    my name or not.

    Those saying I do a lot of volume "for a cat 5" are right, but my goals aren't really in mass start racing, so "cat 5" is, in my mind, just what my license says. My goal is to be as fit as my abilities allow me to be, so I am happy doing big volume. Err, when it's not totally screwing me up, as it seems to be doing right now...
     
  14. BullGod

    BullGod New Member

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    From your comments it is clear that you are exhausted.

    If your aim, as you say, is to be as fit as your abililites allow then I don't think your methods are so wise. If your aim is to "do as much training as possible" then I think you're on the right track. Unfortunately being fit is not about training volume but targeted stressing of the body, targeting weaker areas and then recovering to consolidate the improvement.

    If you really feel as bas as you say you do you're actually damaging yourself, and your performance is going down. Sounds like a classic case of overtraining and burnout. If you want to keep this up as some sort of test to see how far you can go then fair play and good luck. However, if you want to be a goof cyclist and avoid illness and injury I would take some serious rest and think about a training plan that involves less volume and more quality.
     
  15. kmavm

    kmavm New Member

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    I basically was approaching the second half of the season as the sort of "experiment" you describe, seeking my own personal breaking point. It looks like I found it. The training stress "ramp rate" I was on was just too steep for me to accomodate. FWIW, this isn't a case of massive volume with low quality; I was doing structured work in L4-L6 every single day during my last build period (ending in September). I wasn't going for quality or quantity in isolation, but "quantity of quality," and it looks now like I got a little greedy.

    Thanks for the much-needed perspective, BullGod and everybody else. I'm definitely sold on the idea of some R & R. For now, the short jogs and a greatly reduced volume/intensity of bike riding are really hitting the spot. I'd forgotten how rewarding it is to start a new sport, and make monster gains in the first few weeks. Now I just have to be careful I don't turn into a runner :).
     
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