After a week of over-reaching into severe burnout I’ve got a few minor AT-specific questions further down but I think just writing this all out has helped me process everything well enough to find the most important answers on my own. I’m leaving the details in mostly just in case it helps someone going through similar. Look after yourselves everyone!
So after progressing from Threshold 2.9>4.7 over the course of nine days (Thursday-Saturday ending a week ago) I found myself totally spent and unable to complete the next day’s Sweet Spot workout (5x10 threshold to 4x12 SS seemed like it should have been easily doable but just wasn’t). Monday rest day put me right though I felt good and nailed my Stretch VO2 workout on Tuesday (4.3>5.8) which felt great after rating all my VO2 workouts ‘moderate’ for a few weeks and finally getting adapted up by AT. It was pretty much at my limit though, so also really took everything out of me again.
AT then gave me ‘Black’ for my easy Wednesday ride, which, at .68 IF, wasn’t actually that easy as 60 minute z2 endurance rides go. I remember thinking at the time that I had done a bit too much recently and would have chosen something more like Lazy Mountain if I was making the schedule, but I decided to trust AT and stuck with it. Later that day I had to drop the car off for service and the bike was the best way home - 18 minutes of stop-start surgey city-centre riding into a wild headwind.
By the time Thursday came around I was in a bad place but couldn’t really see it. Big symptoms of burnout, likely compounded by SAD (I have a mid-January birthday so my low point is usually the last week of the month rather than the more traditional Blue Monday). I put off my workout for most of the day, finished zero work, and then when I finally got on the bike for my 4x10 threshold session I could tell during the first interval there was no way I was capable of completing the workout. I was surprised to find myself able to make it most of the way through the second interval, but I still failed the workout well before the midpoint.
Made it to and through my 3hr in-person work shift on Friday including the 2 short (12min) commute rides, but I really didn’t want to be there and had considered calling in sick (which would be very out of character for me). I couldn’t face my desk when I got home so couldn’t do any more work the rest of the day. Was starting to feel really depressed too. And I was a bad partner and upset my other half while she was trying to cheer me up. It was only at this point I recognised how much this must be related to training fatigue.
On Saturday morning I started to feel better almost immediately once I made the decision to move my workout to Sunday (today). It made for a much more restful morning on the sofa and by the afternoon I found myself feeling energetic and positive, tidying the house, catching up on laundry and other household maintenance I’d put off all week, etc.
I was going to do my Saturday workout today so I still get the key workout in (thankfully after recent failures AT has swapped my Threshold session from a 5.2 to a 3.5), skipping my Sunday SS session instead. But if I got on the bike today it would be because I feel like I should, not because I want to, so I’m going to take another day off and be really ready for VO2uesday in a couple days time.
Things I’m pondering:
- I’ve got one more loading week before my recovery week - I’d consider just moving up the recovery but that would throw everything else off in plan builder. I assume I’m best to just push on following this mini-break unless the wheels start to come off again?
- When I failed Thursday’s workout I put ‘intensity’ as the reason - should I go change it to say ‘fatigue’ now I have the benefit of hindsight?
- There’s no survey for missed workouts, so how do I tell AT that I’m taking this weekend off due to training fatigue rather than just skipping the workouts because I was busy or something?
- What’s the best way to ‘train’ AT about all of this? Is it advanced enough to know that in a similar future situation it should swap a high z2 ride on a Wednesday for a 30 minute recovery spin, or will I need to do that myself? I think that alone might have kept me on track into this weekend.
- Would I actually be better off just dropping from Mid to Low volume and then choosing my Wednesday and Sunday workouts either based on my own judgement or using TrainNow? I already replace my Sunday workout with my club ride or a big long adventure whenever the weather’s OK, so Wednesday would often be the only gap anyway.
Thoughts or anecdotes in solidarity welcome, but mostly I just hope it helps someone else identify when it’s time to back off to avoid digging a hole. And I hope this detailed review helps me to see the shape of what’s coming and adjust a wee bit sooner next time!