How do/should you feel at the end of a block?

I’m coming towards then end of the HV Rolling Road Race specialty after going through SSBHV 1 & 2 and short power HV build. From a start FTP of 275w I’m now up to 323w (4.2w/kg), so pretty happy with how things have turned out so far. This is my first experience of proper structured training, building off a base of a few years of unstructured running and cycling.

I’ve noticed that I feel pretty tired/run down towards the end of each block and very much look forward to each recovery week. This includes a slight deterioration of sleep quality, nothing major, just starts to be slightly more difficult to fall and stay asleep. I normally feel back up to about 100% towards then end of each recovery week and probably end up over doing it slightly on outdoor rides at the weekend after a week of easy.

So, how tired do you or should you feel towards the end of a training block? Any good indicators of when that overreach starts becoming non-functional and detrimental, either in general or for you specifically?

I’m considering dropping down to MV but feel that this would be like admitting defeat when I know I can cope with more. I thought to supplement MV with additional shorter endurance rides, 1+ versions of workouts and/or adding in a weekly run but don’t want to just swap one form of training stress for something less productive. Thoughts?

I just came off a MV century specialty (~500 TSS/week), so here’s my input for what it’s worth.

I looked forward to every rest week not because I was physically tired, but because I needed a mental break from training hard. I just needed to relax and wanted to do other things, even if it’s still riding the bike just unstructured.

However I completely fell apart on the very last week. I train on the balcony where I feel the cold and the wind so I might actually have caught a bug or something which added on to the fatigue, but my body definitely gave me a very clear signal to back off.

I’m getting back on with a low intensity week into a new base plan, and feeling good. Riding low intensity feels great, and the pressure to perform is gone which adds to my rest and recovery.

I guess that, as always, the answer is listen to your body over whatever the plan tells you to do. This was a learning process for me due to my personality type, and skipping sessions is hard.

I can’t speak for how you should feel, but I’m in a pretty similar situation to yourself (new to structured training) except that I started at MV. At the end of SSB2 I felt pretty much as you describe and desperately needed the easy week. Now starting build and will see how I go - fingers crossed the 3 week vs 5 week blocks make the fatigue more manageable.

I imagine it’s pretty normal to be pretty worn out at the end of a block and as long as it’s not too intense it shows the training effect is working - you accumulate stress and fatigue to a high but just about manageable level then back off and allow your body to recover enough for another block of it. Aren’t the specialty phases designed to help you peak though? I assumed specialty was supposed to leave you a bit fresher… if that’s the case maybe a sign you could do with a few easy days.

I completely agree that a large part of the tiredness is mental, which in turn makes the last few hard sessions that much harder!

I found build far more taxing than base, even with the short blocks. When running and cycling I’ve always preferred long steady state work so I was quite used to SS type intensity. That’s why I decided to do a short power build as this was a bit of a weakness that I wanted to target. I’m sure that added into the tiredness towards then end as it’s something my body wasn’t really used to.

I am feeling a bit fresher during specialty, this week is the last full intensity/volume week before things start tapering off. I don’t have any races lined up but I have been enjoying just being able to use the fitness on outdoor rides. Incidentally, I think it’s the outdoor rides that really push things over the edge. I’ve never done a structured outdoor workout (I’m a big fan of outdoor sweet spot intervals!) that hasn’t finished up well over the intended TSS. I think I can probably handle the planned TSS of HV but the outdoor workouts push it just over the red line. I suppose that leaves another option of sticking with HV but trying to be stricter with the outdoor stuff.

Speciality isn’t meant to be overly taxing - on the podcast they talk about the difference between forging the blade and sharpening the blade. The idea is that the Speciality plans fine tune you to the goals of your event while leaving you relatively fresh.

I probably wouldn’t do Speciality unless you genuinely are tapering towards an event though I did it earlier this year “just because”, well just because I’d never gone past Build before so with having plenty of time due to lockdown I gave it a go.

Going to HV from doing no structured training might be part of the problem, as noted in lots of similar threads, rest is as much a part of the process as the workouts. Indicators of fatigue vary from person to person but look for things like not being able to sleep despite “feeling tired”. For me there’s a general lack of “oomph”, one of those hard to describe but you know it when you get it feelings.

The plans do wear you down over time, I got to about halfway through Speciality before it became a problem and had to back off a touch. Maybe use something like Intervals.icu to track metrics like Chronic and Acute Training Loads. You also need to consider season/year long periodisation, you can’t keep adding stress to your system, you need a down time of a month or so, it doesn’t have to be zero activity but something along the lines of traditional base MV or even LV which will keep you ticking over whilst still allowing you to recover. It’s very easy to think you can just keep hammering away at things and expect to improve. Even the pros take a month or two “off” at this time of year.

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I’m a little different in that I find sustained power quite taxing. It’s likely my ftp is overestimated slightly from a ramp test due to anaerobic contribution as SS is fairly tough, over/unders are seriously draining. But then a workout like spanish needle felt pretty okay.

Haha I know the feeling, the thing that almost threw me over the edge with ssb2 was swapping out one of the 2hour weekend rides for an outdoor ride. I don’t have a power meter beyond the turbo but worked off HR relatively easily for the intervals but it doesn’t feel great doing 150 watts between intervals outside like you would on TR plus it ended up being a pretty long ride so I definitely overdid it. Came into that hard week feeling way more tired than I should have and instantly regretted it.

this sounds pretty accurate. You should be excited for the upcoming rest week. I’d only pull the plug on your last week of training in the block if you are exhausted and NOT even coming close to hitting the numbers. even if you fail in the last week, you’re still getting training stimulus in there.

enjoy the rest week and take it FULLY. don’t cut it short, which it sounds like you do sometimes.

Good luck!

Brendan