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OK, so I've been training for 3 years (with varying degrees of success) but I still struggle all the time with this: How to properly schedule and execute my workouts each week with respect to my level of fatigue. Let me explain:

Friel goes on and on about how you shouldn't be fatigued or leg-weary during training, that you should go into hard workouts with your legs feeling "fresh and snappy" etc. But how much fatigue is too much? I mean for me, a baseline of zero leg fatigue, or when my legs feel absolutely 100% only comes on a rare day after a taper or a week off. With that as a baseline, the rest of the time, I'm somewhere between 50% and 95% On the worst days when my legs feel like concrete, I obviously know I should quit and take a rest day or two. Other than that, most days in the middle of a training block I'd say I'm between like 70% and 90% and I really struggle over how hard I should workout, if I need more rest or should push it, etc. How do you know? I live in constant fear that I'm either training too much and driving my legs into a hole of fatigue, or am over-sensitive and should train harder.

Obviously, this can be a complicated question as lots of factors impact fatigue. Let's assume I'm doing most things right, have a solid base, good diet/sleep and am not overtrained or anything. What I really want to know is, am I the only one who feels this way? My training partners give me the impression that they just feel 100% all the time and it drives me crazy. Are there some practical ways some of you have developed for gaging your fatigue and training accordingly?
 

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Great question. I have thought the exact same thing when I read Friel talking about fatigue. I am in the same boat as far as not really knowing how to gauge fatigue. My legs rarely feel completely fatigue free as far as I understand what that means. I often commute to work and despite really taking it easy on recovery days, there is still some fatigue next time I ride.
 

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base your training off your ability to hold your desired power numbers for that ride, not off how you feel.

of course, i also have a pretty good idea of how much i can take in a week and schedule weeks that will tax me but not put me in a hole. i only do one or two days of hard (the really tough question is how hard is hard, how many "sets" and "reps", how much recovery, and how to time those hard workouts for maximal gains) intervals a week, the rest of the time is mostly aerobic work.
 

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Indicators of Overtraining Syndrome per "Lore of Running" by Tim Noakes, MD

Emotional and behavior changes
-Loss of enthusiasm and drive; generalized apathy, an "I don't care" attitude; loss of joy of life
-Loss of thirst of competition; Desire to quit during competition
-Lethargy; listlessness;tiredness
-Peevish; complaining; easily irritated; miserable;anxious;depressed; ill-humored; unable to relax; bored
-Inability to concentrate at work; impaired academic performance
-Changes in sleeping patterns, in particular, insomnia. Sleep does not refresh
-Loss of appetite
-Loss of Libido
-Poor coordination; general clumsiness
-Increased fluid intake at night; feeling thirsty
Physical changes
-Impaired physical performance, inability to complete routine training
-Gradual loss of weight
-Athlete looks drawn, sallow, and dejected with sunken eyeballs
-Increase in early morning heart rate of more than 5 bpm
-Heavy leggedness. Sluggishness that persists for more than 24 hours after a workout
-Muscle soreness and joint pains. Persistent muscle soreness increases from session to session
-Swelling of lymph glands
-Gastrointestinal disturbances, in particular, diarrhea
-Increased susceptibility to infections, headache, and injury
-Minor scratches heal slowly


After reading this list, now I realize, I've never been overtrained. Probably temporarily fried for several days, but that's it.

And whybotherme, +1 on the interval to aerobic work ratio (in favor of more aerobic work). That seemed to work for me last season real good.
 

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whybotherme said:
base your training off your ability to hold your desired power numbers for that ride, not off how you feel.
Good advice I am sure, but it doesn't exactly answer the question in my mind. I can be fatigued, but still hold my power numbers for that ride (hypothetically, since I don't use a power meter), I will just have to work harder, right? How rested you feel has to play some role is determining whether you are recovering adequately, as does heart rate, appetite, muscle soreness, etc. I think the original poster's question, and mine, is how best to determine whether you have recovered sufficiently from your last hard workout to do your next hard workout to get the maximum advantage. The question isn't necessarily whether you can do the hard workout.

Personally, I usually limit my hard workouts to twice a week in my build phase with recovery rides and aerobic rides in between and generally I think I feel well recovered. Most often if the legs feel a little fatigued at the start of a ride, it generally goes away as I get warmed up, but if it doesn't I try to pay attention.

Anyone try Restwise (http://www.restwise.com/)? That looks like a pretty interesting attempt to quantify this exact question. Here is a blog of one person's experience with it: http://www.getstrongergolonger.com/journal/2010/3/29/recovery-science.html

As for overtraining, I personally have never been there and I doubt many have. Overreaching, probably. My brother once hit the truly overtrained point and it was ugly.
 

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Monday this week I hammered a hard ride, and followed with another one Tuesday. Insomnia and other crazy symptoms followed me through Friday (today). The rides were great, but my muscles felt tired on Tuesday. Too much too fast I think.

I'll keep watching this thread.
 

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Fishlips said:
Good advice I am sure, but it doesn't exactly answer the question in my mind. I can be fatigued, but still hold my power numbers for that ride (hypothetically, since I don't use a power meter), I will just have to work harder, right?
You aren't working harder to maintain the same power, it just feels harder due to fatigue. It does answer the question, in a fairly simply way, but as good as any in my assessment in terms of a practical way to judge whether you are suffering too much fatigue and need to abandon your workout plans and rest or just ride recovery. If you can maintain your power, you are probably not overtrained and don't need to wait to do a planned workout as long as you have a sensible plan such as no more than 2 hard days a week, maybe 3 for some folks.

If you can't maintain your power, that is a bad signal. The whole key is to get in a quality workout. If you are not able to get in the quality because you can't maintain the desired power, you are probably better off waiting until you can do it right and get the full benefit of the planned workout.
 

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One thing that can really get you screwed up is if your aerobic pace is too hard. I have fallen into this trap. The only thing that keeps me in check with regard to this is my wife and her coach... :)
 

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It is a difficult thing to get right. You can spend entire years absolutely shattered if you aren't careful. I've done that many times.:eekster:

The concepts of 'Chronic Training Load' (CTL), 'Acute Training Load' (ATL) and Training Stress Balance"(TSB) try to provide an objective means of measuring how hard your training is. By monitoring these measures it can provide an idea of what is the best balance between rest and training to reach your top form.

http://home.trainingpeaks.com/articles/cycling/what-is-the-performance-management-chart.aspx

This is an interesting approach to the issue of fatigue from a non-cycling perspective.:)

http://forums.mtbr.com/showpost.php?p=7775248&postcount=46

One thing to look at closely would be your iron levels. Exercise induced anaemia is common in athletes and will leave you feeling tired all the time.

Exercise Induced Anaemia

"DEFINITION--A decreased number of circulating red blood cells, or insufficient hemoglobin in the cells, caused from participation in exercise. Anemia is also a symptom of other disorders, and may interfere with athletic performance. For proper treatment, the cause must be found.

SIGNS & SYMPTOMS SIGNS OF PRONOUNCED ANEMIA:
--------------------

-Decreased performance in maximum-effort activities.
-Tiredness and weakness.
-Paleness, especially in the hands and lining of the lower eyelids. LESS COMMON SIGNS:
-Tongue inflammation.
-Fainting.
-Breathlessness.
-Excessively rapid heartbeat with exercise.
-Appetite loss.

CAUSES & RISK FACTORS
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-Participation in exercise such as prolonged walking, running or cross-country skiing. The forces exerted on the red blood cells in the capillaries of the feet may rupture the blood cells and lead to anemia.
-Other heavy physical exercise and exertion.
-Heavy menstrual bleeding.
-Pregnancy.
-Malabsorption of iron from food.
-Profuse sweating.
-Age over 60.
-Recent illness with bleeding, such as an ulcer, diverticulitis, colitis, hemorrhoids or gastrointestinal tumor.

HOW TO PREVENT
Maintain an adequate iron intake by eating a well-balanced diet or taking iron supplements."


http://www.mdadvice.com/library/sport/sport2.html
 

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schlitzky said:
Man, I wish I could afford a power meter. It would be so valuable to know how I'm ACTUALLY performing vs how I'm feeling. Also power vs HR.
Yep. Ridiculously overpriced at the moment IMO. Plus, it is nice to have the power meter on your training wheelset, while having a race day wheelset that is much lighter without the PM. I know that a lot of guys race with PM.... not my desire.

PITA:mad:
 

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"stress endurance"

This is a great topic. I've always had a hard time balancing fatigue and training as well. I did the time crunched cyclist plan last season for 2 cycles. It's basically a bunch of intervals and was hard to keep pace with the schedule, but I was fast as I've ever been after doing it. Honestly I felt tired 50-60% of the time (on and off the bike). But I was able to adapt to the stress and finally started to feel strong and recovered for the next workout, (this took 3-4 weeks) I gotta admit my legs weren't always snappy and feeling perfect at the beginning of a workout but after a 10-15 warm up I usually felt good. A lot of times when feeling bad at first the workout ended up being awesome. While doing a tough periodization plan your body seems to develop "stress endurance" as well as muscular endurance in the legs as well as all the other adaptations that are taking place. So I ended up getting used to the 7 hours a week along with the hard intervals but could only do it or about 8-10 weeks, and my legs rarely felt "perfect".
 

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schlitzky said:
Other than that, most days in the middle of a training block I'd say I'm between like 70% and 90% and I really struggle over how hard I should workout, if I need more rest or should push it, etc. How do you know? I live in constant fear that I'm either training too much and driving my legs into a hole of fatigue, or am over-sensitive and should train harder.

What I really want to know is, am I the only one who feels this way? My training partners give me the impression that they just feel 100% all the time and it drives me crazy. Are there some practical ways some of you have developed for gaging your fatigue and training accordingly?
I dont get the impression that others feel 100% all the time, but I do get the impression that go really hard and hammer themselves on most of their rides (these are people who are quite successful), it seems that their equation to good results is lots of pain.

As others said, a lot of times I feel a lot better/stronger after a good warmup, which might take up to a full hour for me.
Also, without a PM or HRM, I can keep track of my miles/hours/RPE per week on a spreadsheet, and there you can really see some trends, which helps to pick out how hard your previous day or week was.
 

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Interesting discussion! From experience I have noticed that some riders are happy to talk about how their legs are feeling on a given day, others can be quite guarded so they might not be giving you the full story.

When I first started training/racing I used the Friel plan with HR, took days off when the plan said and used HR to gauge recovery. After a few years of learning how my body works I use RPE and ride pretty much every day. Like others have said, it can take 15-20 minutes to warm up properly for your legs to start feeling good. If they still feel rubbish after a good warm up just do a recovery spin but if they feel great, go hard. The impression I get from the really good road riders in my area is that they ride their bikes a lot and know how to go really really hard but can go really really easy when they know their body is tired and need recovery.

I have noticed their are 2 kinds of muscle fatigue, a general fatigue/tiredness that comes with training day after day, week after week which can usually be ridden through (at a steady pace) and another fatigue that is deep in the muscle and a day when you know that you shouldn't even be looking at a bike, let alone riding one. With all these fancy gadgets/tools like HRM, power metres etc I still think we all have the best in-built training tool...RPE.
 

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I am using a training program that is different than the normally accepted programs. I do 3 days in a row of high intensity intervals, followed by 1 day with a longer, easier paced endurance ride. I then rest for 3 days (complete rest, no active recovery). The plan is under the guidance of my coach, so this is not some wacky thing I invented.

The 3 days of intensity are designed so that I can maintain the same power, by increasing the interval length each of the 3 days, but reducing the # of intervals. This way I can go as hard on the last day as I do on the first day. I have no power meter at home, so I have to rely on the speed I maintain and my perceived effort. The endurance ride is hard because I don't have much energy left by the 4th day, but it's designed to be at aerobic hr, so I never push hard. The goal is to work the type 1 muscles only. I get retested monthly (LT, lung function, and critical power).

At the end of this 4 day set, I am totally ready for 3 days of inactivity. I find that I have an overall soreness in my legs, core, and back that goes away gradually through the 3 rest days. On the late afternoon of the 3rd day, I am no longer sore. In fact, I am feeling excited to train again the next day. On the 1st day of training, I am fresh and full of energy.

It took about 2 weeks to adapt to going hard for 4 days in a row. Prior to this program, I used to ride everyday I had the chance (4-5 days a weed). I was pushing hard to keep up with fast people, thinking that if I keep trying, I'll just get faster. I think that works to a certain point. I definitely battled with heavy legs during that time because of all the riding I was doing (with not enough rest in between). Active recovery never really worked well for me. I probably ended up getting competitive and pushing harder than I should have and then it was no longer a recovery ride.

Last season, I was in Women's Sport. This season, I'll be in Women's Elite. I have not raced yet, so ask me in April if this program works. I can say this though: I am definitely getting faster. My coach has increased my intervals and increased the intensity of my endurance rides. I have a higher LT, T max, and I go for longer times using my type 2b muscles.

I need to take one day away from my training and ride a local race course lap and time myself. I want to be sure this program is working. It's scary to invest a season in a training program that is not used by many and flies in the face against the established training theories of "base miles-build-intervals-taper-race at peak".

Has anyone used a training program like this?
 

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godsang said:
I am using a training program that is different than the normally accepted programs. I do 3 days in a row of high intensity intervals, followed by 1 day with a longer, easier paced endurance ride. I then rest for 3 days (complete rest, no active recovery). The plan is under the guidance of my coach, so this is not some wacky thing I invented.

The 3 days of intensity are designed so that I can maintain the same power, by increasing the interval length each of the 3 days, but reducing the # of intervals. This way I can go as hard on the last day as I do on the first day. I have no power meter at home, so I have to rely on the speed I maintain and my perceived effort. The endurance ride is hard because I don't have much energy left by the 4th day, but it's designed to be at aerobic hr, so I never push hard. The goal is to work the type 1 muscles only. I get retested monthly (LT, lung function, and critical power).

At the end of this 4 day set, I am totally ready for 3 days of inactivity. I find that I have an overall soreness in my legs, core, and back that goes away gradually through the 3 rest days. On the late afternoon of the 3rd day, I am no longer sore. In fact, I am feeling excited to train again the next day. On the 1st day of training, I am fresh and full of energy.

It took about 2 weeks to adapt to going hard for 4 days in a row. Prior to this program, I used to ride everyday I had the chance (4-5 days a weed). I was pushing hard to keep up with fast people, thinking that if I keep trying, I'll just get faster. I think that works to a certain point. I definitely battled with heavy legs during that time because of all the riding I was doing (with not enough rest in between). Active recovery never really worked well for me. I probably ended up getting competitive and pushing harder than I should have and then it was no longer a recovery ride.

Last season, I was in Women's Sport. This season, I'll be in Women's Elite. I have not raced yet, so ask me in April if this program works. I can say this though: I am definitely getting faster. My coach has increased my intervals and increased the intensity of my endurance rides. I have a higher LT, T max, and I go for longer times using my type 2b muscles.

I need to take one day away from my training and ride a local race course lap and time myself. I want to be sure this program is working. It's scary to invest a season in a training program that is not used by many and flies in the face against the established training theories of "base miles-build-intervals-taper-race at peak".

Has anyone used a training program like this?
Interesting training program. It almost sounds like a crash training plan described by Friel here: http://www.joefrielsblog.com/ As described by Friel, it is kind of like you are doing a three-four day stage race every week and then just completely resting in between.

Sounds like it is working for you so far. I think it highlights the fact that there are still a lot of unanswered questions regarding optimal training and there may be many different ways to reach the same results.

Please keep us updated on your progress.
 
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