Rest & Recovery 12th November 2013

This morning all the indicators on my HRV reading were ‘red’!! Red readings on daily, weekly and monthly parameters are clear signals to stop training and to take time to rest, recover and recuperate sufficiently. Failing to do this will neutralise any potential gains from the preceding training period. Therefore, it is critical to rest the body so that it can make the necessary and improved¬†adaptations required to deal with the stress load imparted by the training. This period of waiting or R&R can be mentally challenging as one wants to continue training.

Over the past few months I have undertaken some more intensive training characterised by hill climbing and harder efforts on group rides. It has been self-evident that my fitness levels have improved. The issue with training is getting the balance right between training stresses or total training load with rest & recovery. The harder one works the more rest one has to schedule and the less overall training one does. The opposite also applies – the less the total training load then the longer the training can continue without the need for rest. I can make the following observations:

  1. I do not accurately know my total training stress for a given period. I have only recently started to use Training Peaks to get a score on my total training stress. Therefore, I have been training blind in terms of understanding the load I am putting my body under.
  2. I have not been including non-bike sessions and stationary bike sessions in evaluating my total training load
  3. I have been focusing on shorter more intensive training sessions and I appear to have responded well to these
  4. I have averaged 5 1/2 hours on the bike for the past 3 months
  5. I have not been adopting a structured training/R&R programme
  6. I don’t know what training load I should be subjecting my body to for a given period

What can I learn from the preceding training period:

  1. I am stronger and fitter
  2. I don’t know the training load parameters I should be working within and for how long I should be doing this
  3. I don’t know how often I should be scheduling R&R
  4. I don’t know whether to focus on intensive training or to revert to volume training
  5. I need to record my HR on all training sessions

Next Steps

  1. Establish my lower and upper limits for total training stress (Tss)
  2. Decide the training split between volume and intensity (is it 80/20 or something else?)
  3. Determine how often I should schedule recovery weeks
  4. Decide if I am going to follow British Cycling’s training plan or devise my own

I can’t seem to find a way of calculating my Tss limits so I’ll have to work them out from scratch so I’ll use the following approach.¬†Once my HRV shows that I have recovered from the accumulated stress of the previous period of training I will start my new period training as follows:

  1. Allow HRV to reach 65 for three consecutive days and commence training
  2. Training to consist of 3-week cycles over a 9-week period, with each cycle consisting of 2 weeks training and 1 week R&R
  3. Tss to be split as follows: cycle 1: 25%, cycle 2: 45%, cycle 3: 30%
  4. Volume/intensity to be split as follows: cycle 1: 95/5, cycle 2: 85/15, cycle 3: 90/10
  5. Each training cycle to include a minimum of 2 weight training sessions
  6. Interval training on hills or on stationary bike
  7. HRV to be monitored closely – if not increasing sufficiently on rest days then intensity to be reduced and if that doesn’t work then Tss to be reduced
  8. The main tool to be used in identifying upper and lower Tss limits will be HRV
  9. Five training sessions per week which includes 2 gym sessions – this leaves a maximum of 3 bike rides per week
  10. Increase no. of activities to 5 per week and where required reduce intensity to accommodate the increased number of activities
  11. Adjust body to accommodate 5 activities per week and once accomplished then selectively increase intensity

HRV target

  • Average HRV 2012: 58.8
  • Average HRV 2013: 62.1 (5.6% improvement)
  • Target HRV for next training period: 65 (4.67% improvement)

October 2013 Review

October has been a good month. I have managed to shift some weight, down to about 72/73kg (recorded 72.3 1/11/13) and put in some strong rides. Because I have felt strong I have enjoyed my rides a lot more. I have managed to keep up and even surpass some of the stronger club riders and this is motivating me to make more progress.

My body weight as always is a difficult area in terms of actually losing it and dealing with it emotionally. I suppose it would make more sense to focus on actual visible loss of fat and performance improvement. But, I find this difficult. In my mind I know I have to reduce my weight down to below 70kg. How do I know this? Because I can see the fat around my waist and the rest of my body. I really cannot rest until all visible signs of fat are gone. I estimate that the remaining fat amounts to at least 3 or 4kg and based on a current estimate of my weight at 72.5-73kg that means I can go as low as 68.5-69kg. Why is this so important? Because my bike performance is directly related to my weight. The less weight I carry the faster I can climb or ride.

Apart from weight loss one of the other big limiters to performance gains is the speed with which I can recover from training sessions. Since I started cycling I have been averaging 2 rides per week and doing little or no other activity. When I look at this stat I am amazed. It seems like so little, however, the total activity time is about 4.5 hours and then when I consider that I was doing no more than 2 hours activity per week prior to cycling I start to realise that actually I have done pretty well. Also, and more importantly I couldn’t do any more activity because I was having to give my body enought time to recover from training sessions. In other words I couldn’t train any more than my body allowed me to. And therein lies the secret of future performance gains – the ability of my body to respond more quickly to training sessions. It is not just about the volume and intensity of training, it is also about how quickly the body recovers from the training workload. In this area I am ¬†recovering more quickly from my training and this will allow me to increase both my training volume and intensity.

If I can fit in more training, what is the best type of training to do:

  1. Recovery sessions – riding on the bike in zone 1. This will help my body recover more quickly from higher intensive training sessions
  2. Endurance sessions – riding on the bike in zone 2. As above but more useful if body is not too severely stressed from previous training sessions
  3. Yoga – to stretch the muscles and help them get rid of toxins
  4. Weight training
  5. Turbo, roller or stationary bike sessions
  6. Functional strength workouts – short sessions that can be accommodated daily
  7. Breathing exercises – improving the volume of air that can be breathed in and delaying the onset of leg fatigue

My ideal week would be:

  • Mon – rest day
  • Tue – short intense bike session
  • Wed – gym
  • Thur – intense bike session
  • Fri – gym
  • Sat – long endurance ride
  • Sun – club ride

This would fit into the following overall structure:

  • 2 weeks training using above followed by
  • 1 week rest & recovery – as above week but replacing mid-week intense sessions with yoga, recovery rides, gym, long walks
  • each 2-week training session would increase in volume for three cycles – therefore the total number of weeks for a training phase would be 9 weeks (3 x 2-week training + 3 x 1-week R&R)

Have started to use Training Peaks to measure intensity, training stress, and workout by HR zone %. Useful tool when used alongside Garmin connect, Strava and Runkeeper. Need to calculate what my total training stress should be on a weekly basis.