Fatigue on long rides

I’ve been using TrainerRoad for the past 2+ years. I’ve been doing mostly Low Volume plans and switching the weekend workout with 1.5 - 2.5 h outside rides when the weather allows it. I’m quite happy with the results so far, with around 240 FTP and 63 kg, and I feel strong in rides up to 3 - 3.5 hours.

However, when I do a longer ride fatigue kicks in and I start to struggle (lately it’s been mainly quads being really tired/sore, but other times it’s been heart rate decline after the 3 - 3.5 h mark). I try to keep nutrition during the ride at around 60 g of carbs per hour (combining sports drinks with bars/gels), and around 400-500 ml of water per hour.

Do you have any tips to delay fatigue (improve time to exhaustion) on those longer 5-6 h rides? Of course “do long rides more often” is probably the main recipe for this, but work/life doesn’t allow me to dedicate more time to cycling.

Thanks a lot in advance!

PS: I use a smart trainer indoors, but I don’t have a power meter outside.

I’m right there with you. I have done several years of similar training and have similar experience on long weekend group rides. Good work on the nutrition and hydration. The LV plans have mostly short duration intervals to create the needed intensity. the MV plans have more long blocks at Sweet Spot or more Over Unders (my personal favorite).

This year, with being stuck at home I feel that I’ve made some jumps on endurance. The General Build Mid Volume phases really amped thing up. On the weekend I had a 1.5 hr ride on Saturday followed by a 2 hour on Sunday. Those 2 hour Sundays on the trainer were tough.

After the finishing GB MV 1 & 2, I did a local metric century that ends with an hour long climb, ride time of 4:15 and felt great on the climb. The next week we did a 5:45 century and I felt good until mile 101.

I’m not sure you can really do much longer weekend rides without longer rides to support them during the week. Perhaps some back to back days focusing on long sustained blocks could help you get there.


I think so but one thing that really helped me was going polarized. Doing 3-4 hour rides at low intensity really boosted my endurance.

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Thanks for the replies. Probably there is no magic pill.

During the confinement I used to do back to back workouts on Saturday and Sunday, but only 1 - 1.5 h long (more than 1.5 h on the trainer is unbearable :smile:). But now I can only go out with the bike once per weekend.

I’ll look into Polarized, but it doesn’t seem much fun to do 3-4 h rides on Z1…

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Are you backing off your watts and RPE? If you are used to doing a 90 minute ride, at, say 250 watts, then you can’t expect to just suddenly do a 5 hour ride and hold 250wt.

Yes, but maybe not enough.

This is from my last ride, 4.5 h (115 km, 1800 m):

Maybe I should have dialed it down a bit?

It’s not a lot of fun unless you have a friend to chat with or you like scenery. I did my first block of polarized base (10-13 hours per week) and 90% of that was at 70% of maxHR. My longest ride was usually once or twice per week of 3 hours. The rest were between 1-2hrs. After 7 weeks I was breaking every strava PR and had put 20 points on my FTP. And more importantly, I was no longer feeling utterly exhausted and hammered after a 3 hour group ride and could do the occasional 5 hour ride without too much trouble.

Have you experimented with this? Purely based on my own experience this year, upping my carb intake per hour has yielded me the best endurance performance increase I’ve seen in years. I have also been experimenting with products from different manufacturers. The whole 2:1 Maltodextrin:Fructose ‘thing’ was something I was completely oblivious to but, I’m starting to see first-hand that it does make a difference for me.

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Are you really getting 400-500ml of water per hour? I know that’s the recommended amount but on a 3hr+ ride it’s not always easy to find. I rarely am able to find that much water let alone stop for it with a group. A lot of fatigue stems from dehydration.

In the summer time in TX, I leave the house with couple big bottles and often stick a full liter of bottled water in a back jersey pocket (makes the jersey a little droopy, but it works). Gives me about 2.5 liters on the bike. Reload at stores where possible. Even with an early departure, I’ll average over a liter an hour during the summer and still lose 5-7 lbs of weight on a 5 hour ride. There’s just no way to keep up when it’s hot and humid.

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Even if you don’t intend to use WKO5… they have some excellent resources on this topic.

Have a watch of this video on increasing FTP, TTE and Stamina. It’s exactly what you’re after.

2.5h in zone 3, almost an hour in zone 4? And this coming from low volume training? Even if zones are incorrect, this is a fatiguing ride. You are supposed to feel fatigued here. Dial it back a bit if you don’t want to feel to fatigued.


The zones are set on Garmin Connect with the method that uses the max heart rate and the rest heart rate. I don’t know if there are better methods to set the zones there.

Good old Joe Friel:

Thanks, I’ve added the video to my “watch later” list.

Cant you carry that much water with you. I have 2 24oz bottles that I bring with me on a ride which is essentially 1400mls. I tend to drink about 3/4 of a bottle an hour most times so fall into 400-500ml of water.

I think you have your answer. Do you have the graph of HR Vs time for this ride?

I carry extra isotonic powder and refill during the ride when needed.

This was it: