How do I reduce fatigue in races over 3hrs?

This past weekend I completed the Tour de Yorkshire Sportive (I know it’s not a “race”, but I was pushing myself). 2500m of climbing over 123km in 4hrs12. Overall it’s not a bad time, 20th out of some 2000 riders, three of whom were elite-level triathletes.

There are two significant and quite severe climbs before the 80km mark. Looking at my power after the second one, it’s about 20w lower than it was prior to that climb. I’ve been doing sustained power mid-volume and climbing RR.
Is that sort of power loss expected? Do I just need to do longer outdoor rides? Or should I have gone easier on the first two climbs? Any advice appreciated.



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Learning to fuel properly has made a significant difference for me in n terms of fatigue resistance in races.


Personally, I think TR’s sessions are a bit time crunched to balance benefits and time spent. Not saying it is a bad thing, but if you want to do rides like the one you described feeling strong, how often in training do you do that to adapt to fatigue? Doing a hard 20-30 min early is not the same as after say 1500-2000 kcal if not more.

What I personally did, because this bothered me last year and impacted my performance only doing max 2hr TR sessions, was to change or add on time so that on weekends I had at least one TR-session for 3h. I simply extended the cool-down and adjust Load to 65-75% FTP for the extended time.

For me, this has helped, also for a friend I am coaching who have done at least 1-2 3hr TR-sessions / week and tailored 20-30 min intervals have improved 20% Avg of his 20min interval after 1500-2000 kcal.

So if you want to do really good in such events, on the level you described, you need to put in the time for it.

That’s how I am thinking at least. Build fatigue resistance, only by time.


I calculated 60g of carbs per hour, so aimed for 240g overall. Ended up consuming 220g. Which is 55g per hour and is between the recommended 0.5-1g per kg of body weight. So I’m inclined to think my fuelling was ok.

This is what I’m thinking. Some fellow club mates didn’t fade quite so badly as I did, and I’m inclined to think it’s because they do more 3hr+ outdoor rides that I do.
I don’t think I have the mental fortitude to stay on a trainer for 3hrs, but what I think can do is to add longer outdoor rides to my training.

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Definitely should have gone easier on the first climb, but I tried to stay with a gold medal winning triathlete :man_shrugging:
Perhaps it was a cumulation of both climbs? Also, I tend to stay seated on the climbs, unlike most others. Could that have cooked my quads more than if I had gotten out of saddle?

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just find a way you can be consistent with. To spice it up you can brake down your time into 3 and than increase the power over time within the 65-75% FTP range. You can start with an hour of tempo than lower a bit, do 2-3x Sweet spot intervalls and than fall in to 65/75%…

I have done Marmotte Grand Fondo a number of time, 175km 5000h.m., what I changed over time regarding riding style has been cadence. I have increased my Avg cadence with around 5rpm, that has for me been a positive factor. I moslty sit, I cant say what is better or worse, you just need to find what suits you…

I understand this to be the most efficient position for climbing, as long as you’re training it and you’re comfortable, get out of the saddle only when you have to or when you need a short change of position for comfort.

Sounds like you’re doing a lot of things right and if you’ve finished 20th overall it’s more likely tweaking than sea change you’re after. Efficiency and fatigue play a part but have you looked at the tactics of the people around you in the last third?

At your current fitness level, as inferred from your ride, pacing would be the solution. I have found that the Training Peaks’ Best Bike Split software provides a good guide to the Normalized Power I should ride a hilly century so that I don’t suffer a huge loss of power late in a long ride. Without such a tool, you can estimate it by analyzing your prior long rides (see below).

Depending on your time available, the longer term solution is two-fold:
a. Weekly long ride as as others have suggested at approximately 2/3 to 3/4 of your target event (and longer as the event approaches)
b. Fatigue resistance training: progressive intervals of time spent in each training level at threshold and below building up to (for example) 4x25 or 3x30 at sweet spot for a century ride (greater depending on your goal).
Note: I use TP’s WK04 to measure Time to Exhaustion (TTE), a good metric of fatigue resistance, driving it to 60+mins. Without such software you can do your own testing of riding at your FTP and see how long you can hold it. 45mins or more is a good target for a non-race century if you are pursuing performance (otherwise, just slow the pace per above).

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As above, pacing and not going out too hard.
I often used to race similar distances pretty much every weekend and every time there would be a number of riders who would start out hard and I knew to hold back as I would pass them later in the race, without fail.

And then there were the really strong guys who started hard and kept going…

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Honestly, going easier on the climbs doesn’t really work that well on group ride like this if you want t do the fastest time possible.

It is worth it to go super deep on a climb if it will keep you in the group which you can roll with on all the flat between the climbs. Rather than going a bit easier on the first climb, voluntarily dropping yourself, and riding the next valley on your own or with a slower group.

Best case is you arrive at the bottom of the final climb a bit fresher and can go up it a bit faster, but you are still way behind were you would be, or worse, you go up it slower because you had to ride relatively harder across the flat.

Obviously the caveat is that if it a 20 minute climb and the group you are in is going so hard that you know you will only be able to hang on for minute then you should probably cut your losses, but if you think you could just about hold on, go for it.

You also have to remember that for pretty much every domestic road race, and sportive, the first hour is always flat out if you want to be in the front group, like unsustainably flat out because the strong guys want to get rid of the weaker guys. I have never done a road race were the last hour is faster or even the same speed as the first hour. If you want to be in the front group, you just kind of have to go all in and stick with it.


how often do you do back to back climbs of that duration and intensity normally in your training? Repeatability can definitely be gained so all is not lost!

@paulgrav have you tested the limits of your digestive ability? I used to follow the 1g/min rule of thumb but the nutritionalist for a continental pro team once told me a number that was much greater than that. I said, ‘I can’t take down that much’ & she said ‘How do you know? Have you tried?’

I had not! As it turns out I could take down more than that. Also as I tested the limits of what I could handle it turned out I could handle more & more over the course of some several weeks. So you can train your gut to handle more. That’s one part of the equation: practice taking down more calories because you probably can.

The second part of the equation is increasing the portion of your caloric expenditure that is satisfied by your fat stores vs your glycogen stores. Let’s say you burn calories 10% from blood sugar…so either what you eat or your glycogen stores. You take down 60*4=240 kcal/hr. You’ve got ~1500 kcal of glycogen in your muscles/liver. You’re burning probably ~750 kcal/hr during the race so every hour there is ~500 kcal deficit between what you expend and what you eat.

Ok, so after about three hours you’re out of glycogen & the ride starts to change for you!

You’ll never be able to eat 700 to 800 kcal/hr so you need to work on strategies to reduce the portion of your calorie deficit that is overcome by burning glycogen stores. In other words, increase your ability to burn fat. That means long rides. That means fasted rides. Get your body more used to burning fat.

Adding twice a month (weekly if you can) a longer ride on the Sunday workout I found has made a MASSIVE difference. Simply adding time to the end and cranking it to 200% so you are sitting at like 180w for an additional hour. The body seems to do weird things at 2hrs+, and this time, while at low intensity, teaches your body to adapt, how to fuel and use fuel, and makes long efforts outdoors SO much easier.

I was shocked at the magnitude of the adaptions I saw from even 5 weeks of adding an hour of z2 to the end of the SSBII Sunday workout.


Having a few days to look back, analyse, and understand has helped. Thanks for everyone’s replies.

I suffered from what I thought was a stitch from about the half way point, and when I finished I was struck by crippling stomach cramps. That’s not something I’ve ever had whilst cycling and my nutrition didn’t change. Since the event I noticed that some of my gels were 6 months past their consume by date. I also noticed my water bottle caps were full of black mould.
Given the above, I don’t think I’ve too much to cry about. After all this event was purely to prep me for my A event (a week on Sunday).

In order to solidify my endurance, I’m going to do a long-ish group ride this Sunday (about 130km), a week before my A race. This time with new water bottles, and no out of date nutrition. Then I’ve 7 days to recover. That should do it.

All my morning commutes have been fasted since forever. I do think it might be worth bumping up the calorie consumption. Perhaps I’ll aim to try that this Sunday.

Been doing mid-volume sustained power build, and now climbing RR, so I’m trusting that TR is dosing me with the appropriate workouts.

@paulgrav Yep, that’s the correct sort of work for sure! I’m going to suggest a further step that might help…I hope you’ll consider it! (or maybe you’re already doing it!) Consider depleted riding.

Back in the day a gentleman named Duchaine taught me how to do a depleted workout. It’s just one step past fasted…deplete your glycogen reserves and then continue to train at some moderate intensity. For cyclists, I think waking up & cycling for 90 to 120 minutes without eating any carbohydrate should accomplish a depleted state. Then continue to cycle at what feels like a moderate intensity for an hour or more.

Once you get to the depleted state you might feel not so good & want to quite. Remember: everything you’ve done up to then was just to get to the start of the workout. Obviously, don’t put yourself in danger, but the important thing is to keep pedalling in a depleted state. That will kick start the fat-energy pathway!

The fasted commutes are no trouble and even more convenient for me to do fasted. I have a few concerns with depleted training:

  1. I have no way to measure the benefits.
  2. Most of my training is in the evening, after work, that would mean fasting the entire day.
  3. I risk jeopardising the quality of workouts if I were to do them depleted.
  4. 90mins+ on the trainer would make my training onerous enough that I’d become grumpy and would stop enjoying training. Then what’s the point.
  5. I like eating.

Ultimately, I don’t think it’s for me. Especially whilst I’ve other avenues/tweaks to my training and approach that merit investigation. Thanks for the suggestion though :grinning:

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