My legs quit - burned out?

Hey, 48M, 60kg(132lb), cca 3,9w/kg, just finishing speciality phase of low volume rolling road racing plan (3,5h a week, 3 x hard intervals). This week suppose to be recovery week before actual finish. Followed the plan as strict as possible, finishing wko’s of last month outside. Enjoyed the process a lot, suffered sometimes very hard, which is normal, but couldn’t by any means finish two Castle Crag wko’s (7x3-minute aerobic efforts at 107% FTP with 4 standing, 6-second sprint-like bursts at 150-200% FTP, with recoveries between intervals of 3.5 minutes). Didn’t do any rides longer than 2 hours since last fall. So, almost no zone 2 rides at all for ages, except adding up to an hour after some of prescribed wko’s from time to time.
I swapped last Sunday’s wko, which was suppose to be the last hard one - with 3,5h long “pissing contest” ride with my cycling buddies. One of them is much stronger than others, so he was winding the tempo quite hard for the rest of us. We did these 100km and 1000vm ride at 30kmh avg speed and I couldn’t resist to show “how strong” I am after one hour, with a too strong pull of 7 minutes and tried to follow the strongest guy on a 6km climb later, but failed. At 2h mark my legs went to safe mode and I couldn’t do anything else but ride endurance intensity back home. Due to sored legs, OK.
Fuelling prior and during ride was good (I think) and was able to participate at picnic of my sons schoolmate energised-wasn’t drained down the way I was expecting it. Took one day off the bike and then did an endurance 1,5h ride the following day. My HR was normal for that ride(middle of zone 2 and , power was 50% endurance and 50% tempo) nothing special to observe happened.
Went on a really easy MTB ride (zone 1 for me) with my 10yrs old son yesterday and noticed my legs power is non existent…completlly gone :astonished:
I was barely able to push pedals. 0% power in legs. What the hell happened? How long is that suppose to last?
I sleep okeyish, life stress is very low these days.
Since nothing else is wrong, I find it hard to call it a burnout.
Any thoughts would be apreciated.

A couple of observations.

This is supposed to be a recovery week - that means TAKE IT EASY. Don’t go out and do 50% endurance and 50% tempo fun rides. Short recovery pace, beach cruiser easy until your legs come back.

Also, you said you’ve done strictly low volume, almost no Z2 and no rides longer than 2 hours, and you went out and did a 3.5hour HARD road ride as the last ride in a training block. You basically cooked yourself on the last ride and need to recover from both the block, and a ride you weren’t ready for.

Also - make sure you are correctly rating the rides you fail. if you couldn’t complete, you should have gotten a struggle survey. And rate rides like that as “All Out”. “Very Hard” rides are rare for me, “All Out” almost never unless it’s a test workout.


I thought the middle of HR zone 2 was easy. It was also the first free week after 3 months of non stop working (but not physically draining). All that free time (kids in school and no job) and me being at home while spring offers the best riding conditions obviously made me misjudge what actual recovery week is.
I was trying to rate the workout intensity as honestly as it can be, and after failing Castle Crag twice, I rated it as “did not finish due to too much intensity”, but TR adaptation offered even harder wko’s…which I didn’t accept and did similar ones (but longer intervals) without sprint bursts. I wonder how long this recovery is supposed to last. Weather is still nice and I am still free of my job, but today my legs still feel poisoned :cry:
Thank you very much, mr. BCM

If you marked a workout all out or could not complete and the future workouts didn’t adapt, I would definitely reach out to TR support asap. Could have been a bug.

And agree with the above post. Your 3.5 hour hard ride was outside of training bounds. As for the, hey I’ve got a free week I’m going to ride syndrome, we all get it. You have to decide whether to follow your plan and go easy on the recovery week or say, screw it I’m riding my bike. Either is fine. But if you do the latter, you may need a FULL week of recovery.

Finally, middle of Z2 by heart rate may be fine for 30 minutes. But if you do that for 2-4 hours, that’s a training ride not a recovery ride.


No, not necessarily. Recovery is Z1 not Z2. For me true recovery rides can be ~20 bpm lower than Endurance pace when looking at HR.

My normal volume right now is 12-14 hours a week and am in a recovery week myself. Here’s what the week looks like for me after a hard 3 hour race / ride Sunday:

Monday - Full Rest or Z1, beach cruiser easy!
Tuesday - Full Rest
Wednesday - Easy Low Z2
Thursday - Easy Low Z2 with 5x30s harder openers
Friday - Z2 with 5x30s harder openers
Saturday - (If and only if my legs are back) - 15 minute warmup, 2 minute power test, round out to total of 90 minutes with Z2
Sunday - 3 Hours Base Z2

And for all of them, if legs aren’t feeling it, I dial it back and go easier. All my workouts are power based, not HR. You’ll notice I have an entire week of Rest, Z1, and Z2 with just a couple short harder efforts later in the week if I’m feeling good. Volume is maybe 30% lower than my work weeks, with intensity way down too. No tempo, Sweet Spot, Threshold. I’ve been there, but not a time to go out and just have fun…

Recovering from a big event, race, or big training block, I’ve had it be a total of 10 days - 2 weeks to recover if I was really tired. A normal recovery week still takes me that full week of lighter volume…

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My ideal recovery ride prescription:

< 110w
< 100bpm
< 1 hour



Your not to far off me (48yo m 62.5kg circa 4w/kg) and I’m also on a LV plan (albeit TT). I dropped the middle of the 3 HIIT workouts for an Endurance one (TR have followed suit and introduced ‘Masters’ Plans’, 2xHIIT + 1 Endurance) and I felt a lot better for it. My weight also includes a 2-3kg increase over Christmas and I’ve felt a lot better for that too. I do supplement with a lot of outdoor rides so I tend not to burnout fast…

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I find it hard to dial back so much…are these kind of rides even worth starting? Very naive I am. Learning the hard way. Thank you mrs. Helvellyn.

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You are doing 3.5h/wk. And haven’t done any rides >2h long in a long time.

You then go and do a high intensity ride that’s the same length as your historical weekly volume and almost twice as long as your longest ride in the past several months.

You should feel exhausted.

This would be like me going out and doing a 10-12 hour spicey group ride with a bunch of threshold and tempo efforts, and wondering why I was so tired for the next few days.

Just eat and rest lots and give it a few days.


Hey, I was suggested to use Masters plan as well, but decided to push through “Speciality” with 3 hard wko’s always and was able to finish it (with two mentioned exceptions) strong. It felt great! What is the same is I also managed to gain 2-3 kg in the past 3 months, as I lost too much weight last fall due to too much stress. I feel stronger in general and pleased, although it results in lower w/kg…it’s simply healthier for us two to have a bit more mass. Some newly incorporated weight training helped me a lot with that. Thank you.

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This might be a good time to mention Rhabdomyolysis? I knew someone who had it. (They were on medication that made it more likely to happen, but were still shocked when it did)

He lost 80 to 90% of the muscle mass in his legs, and 30 to 40% in his arms and shoulders. He was a cyclist and body builder who kept training like a maniac, and ignored the early indications that he was in trouble. His story was horrific, and seemed to be a 10 alarm fire ravaging his body pretty quickly, making him an outlier I would hope.

He ‘died’ several times in hospital, and spent 3+ months there, apparently clinging to life. He finally recovered enough to leave the hospital but was confined to a wheelchair for months. Last I heard (he moved away, back with family for intensive care) he was able to stand and walk for short distances, and looks like a scant fraction of what he looked like before (obviously).

As a result, I have become far more aware of my body, and how far I push myself. Meaning that I have to take recovery with nearly the same focus I use with my ‘training’ efforts. But I’m old, I have a heart issue, and I love walking, riding, jogging, and don’t want to throw it all away.

It might be too early to mention this medical issue, but it can happen to ANYONE. I was also advised to be aware of ‘compartment syndrome’ which could be sparked by something as simple as a hit to a calf or thigh during or post effort that sets up muscle compartment swelling and boom, the syndrome.

Just be aware of the risk. Because seeing dark urine means you are on the edge, or in the middle of it. Recover or face HUGE problems that will likely change you life.

Just be careful. Listen to your body. Recovery days are not wastes of time. From friends who work in the local ‘big city hospital’ ER, they have seen quite a few people in ‘Rhabdo’ since, and compartment syndrome too. Yikes…


Yeah, my takeaway from that ride would be “Damn, I am getting fit if I could hang with those guys for as long as I did!”


Hell yes. Remember they’re designed to be part of your recovery, not to be a training stimulus.


I like to believe you, but some say that the best recovery is being on a couch.
Thank you

Each to their own but I find sitting on the couch isn’t much of a recovery for me, I would seize up and cramp in the middle of the night, Im better to go for a gentle walk or a low intensity recovery ride (active recovery).


So true, but also my initial plan for that ride was to just draft and conserve my energy due to length, but ego punched me in the legs…as I had to “show my chops” to my friends; only the strongest guy and I were training structured during winter and I had to show off. Once and it was too much, too soon…com’on.

There is a lot to learn for me out there. Ego wise especially.

Thank you!

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No for me too.

There are some 100% rest days in my schedule, but Light, super easy active recovery < 1 hour helps.

For me, 40-45% of FTP, or lower. Just get the legs spinning for 30-60 min.

And by the way, I crushed myself pretty good Sunday too. I can still feel it in my legs, so am trying to take my own advice.


I just did 45 minutes on Zwift. 105 watts. 89bpm.

Was stiff before after lifting on Tuesday and 3 hours riding yesterday.

Felt much better afterwards.

Sitting on the couch is doing nothing for your tendons and ligaments. They don’t have much blood flow, so getting some movement and squeezing going on helps a lot.

Plus there are plenty of hours left in the day for loafing. And eating. :slightly_smiling_face:


The funny thing is that “Speciality” seemed a bit easier than “Build” and “Base” before…so I thought I’ve got this; one hard ride couldn’t be so decisive, right? It wasn’t the first time I jumped out of my comfort zone like I did with that hammer fest.
Like written before, nothing was indicating that I might be approaching the red line. Ok, legs were a bit tired, but that was to be expected after weeks of committed work. But also, if 3,5h a week is some kind of dangerous volume, I might as well start playing golf or chess… I almost finished middle volume (7h/week) a few years ago and burned out a bit in the middle of it (got fever), but it eventually blasted me to powers I haven’t seen before or since (4,2w/kg), but lost a lot of it in the following moths due to abandoning all structure and just riding as I was pleased - mostly “pissing contests”…did some intervals here and there, far from doing them it every week.

I would very much like to keep some of the gains in the following months, but I doubt it is possible without being on some sort of plan non stop, which is hard mentally and physically, even more now when outdoor season is so nice…and it might kill my passion for cycling. Must admit I have waited very eagerly for this year’s winter plan to end and can’t even imagine attempting another training plan now.

@Robcow Rhabdomyolysis is out of the question, as nothing but dead legs is the problem. I thought I learned enough about hearing my body in previous years, but man was I wrong.

I am the biggest fan of TrainerRoad with everything it brings along the years. and have contacted TR support several times prior to AI wrongly recommending harder instead easier wko’s - due to some technical problems and they solved everything very quickly and politely Sooo grateful for that! I knew I can always manually select easier alternatives and wouldn’t bother them over one strange decision made by AI.

Literally almost every wko this winter seemed spot on where it felt like it was sustainable for the duration of plan (although had big doubts prior to executing some of them-thus looking at “Masters” plan), but awarding from week to week, by feeling a bit stronger. Even more, I double tested the accuracy of “AI ftp detection” a few times (ramp test), since it came out, and it ALWAYS came out accurate down to a single watt! Crazy good stuff!

@Helvellyn Will go for a sub 100hr / 30min ride tomorrow and see how it feels after.

The question remains, how to go on, after I recover from this first world problem? Another plan? Could be doing actual base now (since I almost didn’t do any propper for months and just finished this low volume rolling road racing plan) and neglecting high end stuff detrimental to the never ending chase of higher (or at least same) powers…?

I apologise for long posts, confusing thoughts, dear cycling colleagues and thank you all for your thoughts and suggestions. Life is good :slight_smile:

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FWIW I found ~3.5 hours/week of mostly high intensity, both TR and Stages spin classes, resulted in ~1.5 hour fitness out on real hard group rides.