No Rest days - thoughts?

Hi all,

Wondered if you guys could help. I’m currently working through my plan after completing plan builder. Currently I’m doing a base phase working out as 5 workouts per week about 450 TSS on the bike. This had 2 days rest on a Thursday and Sunday. This working fine and I’m on top of nutrition so feel ok.

I recently signed up to a half marathon and trying to fit runs around my calendar is proving tricky. I’ve added in 3 runs per week. One with interval but a max of 30mins. A tempo run on rest day 1 and a zone 2 run on the second rest day. Works out I’m doing something 7 days a week!! Albeit less intensity towards the back end.

Monday - 110 tss bike
Tuesday - 120 tss bike 30tss run
Wednesday - 75 tss bike
Thursday - 40 tss run
Friday - 75 tss bike
Saturday - 35 tss bike
Sunday - 50 tss run

However, my question is, is this sustainable? I.e. not having an actual rest day of doing nothing?

I’ve done this for 2 weeks and feel ok, making sure I’m eating right on and off the bike so my workouts are fuelled etc. The Saturday and Sunday are almost recovery activities and on the “bike” rest day I am running so cross training.

Does it matter physiologically I am actually not having a day completely off or is it just psychologically?

Thanks

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But on a more serious note, I don’t think it’s sustainable or smart for anyone to have no rest days at all. Rest days are when your body acclimates and grows stronger. Plus if you’re running your tendons, joints, and bones especially need a break.

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When you train you get slower and slower. When you rest you get faster. It’s called super compensation. Are you doing rest weeks? I mean a lower volume easy week without intensity?

Thought that would be the sensible, yes rest weeks are scheduled in. Half marathon is in 5 weeks so I thought I could get away with this for maybe 2/3 weeks. I’ll look to put in at least 1 rest day.

I was thinking more from a theoretical point if were doing very low aerobic rides/runs more of a recovery type activity on rest days I would have thought 7 days a week for 4 week blocks with a rest week follow would be feasible?

I think the fact that you’re asking demonstrates at least some recognition that it’s not an advisable approach.

It’s been pointed out by another poster already, but its worth reiterating…you get stronger from recovery. Working out without recovering is like digging a deep hole and leaving your ladder at home.

Your weekly TSS is certainly manageable in theory but I think it will get on top of you without at least one recovery day per week.

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Check this article out, not cycling but still. Basically if we train for 2 hours a day, we then get 22 hours of recovery and that depending on circumstance they may not be needed.

There are also coaches like Joe Filliol who say that if you need a rest day you are training too hard, and that consistency every day is critical to long term performance improvements.

I imagine this largely comes down to your training plan, if you are doing sweetspot every day you will likely need a rest day, but assuming you have a conservative intensity distribution that heavily focuses on low aerobic work I would say it is workable.

Plus your saturday and sunday is just a 35 tss ride and a 50 tss run, assuming these are easy (low zone 2 at most) and not a 10 mile time trial you are probably pretty much getting a rest day. If you are taking it dead easy both of these days it might be too much rest and not enough stimulus.

My unqualified advise would be check yourself, check your performance, if you feel fine and you are improving then carry on.

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It might be feasible. It depends on how much base you have, how old you, how fast you recover, etc.

I think the mistake people often make is that their recovery pace is not easy enough.

Here’s another way to think about it - a few extra workouts in the weeks before you taper for your half marathon are not going to make you measurably faster. Being well rested on the other hand might allow you to train more effectively and have your best performance.

If the half marathon is the priority then I’d cut back a bit on the cycling and focus on the running for the next 5 weeks.

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I would say my coach agrees with this. He’s not opposed to rest days but he does suggest to me that if I average 80 TSS a day and do a 40 TSS recovery ride I’m definitely getting rest even though I’m still riding. If I were averaging 40 TSS a day and did a 40 TSS ride then that’s probably not recovery even if you go easy to get the 40 TSS rest day. It’s been working great for me and my hours and FTP are all trending much higher than when I used to take 2-3 days off a week.

n=1

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That was my thought process on the Saturday/Sunday if they are really easy such that they’re zone 1 they could act as rest days. Also its a valid point if you’re recovering for like 22 hours each day in theory you should be ok with the right recovery strategy. I wonder how much different it would be if if you did the same workouts and TSS but did run and bike workouts on the same days rather than trying to spread it out. I guess that way although your loading more stress on certain day you are getting 2 days of absolute rest

I guess the arguement there is that if the intensity is so low is there any point in doing it at all? Save your legs and recover. The long slow Sunday run is more to help build the time in the legs for the running and slow increase the distance by about 2km each week. Cycling is still the main goal, this added run made me think that its a good bit of extra cross training this time of year. Also will help develop a base that can be used for triathlons later in the year

All helpful pointers, thanks all! think I’ll drop the Saturday Pettit ride for starters! Maybe double up the run and bike on certain days

Depends but, for me 35TSS is more restful than any other one hour in my day unless I’m just sitting there. But with kids, wife, house and career who just sits there?

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This is a pretty debated topic, but there are several well know triathlon coaches that don’t normally prescribe rest days or recovery weeks. They do have easy days though with the option of turning some of these into rest days if needed. It doesn’t take complete rest to supercompensate but it does take a pretty well managed approach to intensity and volume.

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Amanda Coker rode 139 000km in one year. 380km every single day (avg). So when it comes to low intensity training… i don’t think it’s the problem. Problem is how many high intensity sessions you do and what kind of stress you get from other things (job, family etc…).

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Most pros don’t have rest days, or only very rarely. They do have easy days (cafe ride) regularly. However, for us others, I think it depends what else you are doing in a day. If its very busy, it might be best if you have days where you don’t also need to squeeze a training session in, and have more time for other things. So I’d say its individual, and you need to see what works for you.

rest is when you get stronger, so definitely need a rest week at some point.
would be better off combining Fri and Sat as opposed to splitting them up IMO

Brendan

Your 35 TSS bike day on Saturday essentially serves as a rest day. That is basically doing Petit, a very easy ride.

If you allow for recovery weeks, where the whole week is recovery rides / runs, I would think that schedule is sustainable.

But if you start feeling fatigued and run down, shut it down and take a recovery day or two and then see how you feel.

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Since there is evidence on both sides of this as far as performance goes,
I’d pay more attention to the mental side of it.

Does riding every day get in the way of your life and you get sick of it?
Yes? Take rest days. It won’t hinder your performance in the big picture
No? Don’t take rest days

People are also way different. I’m sure you can train yourself one way or another and change to some degree but different people will respond differently to training intensity, frequency, volume etc. Experiment, adjust, experiment, adjust, repeat.

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I’ve been tracking HRV with HRV4Training ($10 app) for the last few months. I find it helpful. For example today, my HRV has been trending lower after a tough week last week. I took a rest day on Saturday but then did almost 3 hours on gravel on Sunday (not super intense but a lot of tempo and some SS). My legs were sore last night though I feel ok today. My HRV though ticked a bit lower.

It’s telling me that I should either take an easy day or a day off today if I want to smash some intervals on Tuesday.

No rest day = really bad idea - you can do it if you are a triathlete provided you just swim that day but I wouldn’t advise leg based exercise 7days/week. You may survive if you are a good runner and it doesn’t take much out of you but you probably won’t improve - I would alternate between 4 days bike/2 days run and 3 days bike 3days run over a fortnight - you only need a longish run every 3 weeks or so if you are keeping up the cycling. I ran a 2:48 marathon on 35 miles a week once I had started cycling a few years back (when riding 8 hours/week as well) so there is certainly cross over fitness.

But is it optimal?

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If you carefully plan your week, and don’t overcook your Z2 and recovery rides, then you can definitely perform a week without any complete days off. I just went 13 weeks in a row without any complete days off, and I felt ready for all my intensity workouts. I used Pettit -1 for my true recovery sessions most of the time. I also increased my FTP 25w during that period. Was it optimal? Who knows, but it didn’t feel like I jeopardized my adaptations. I only “failed” one workout due to my stomach feeling ill.

Disclamer though - Since joining TR and during this period, I’ve only been doing approx. 600tss/wk. I’m used to doing 700-800 outside.

The only reason I took a day off recently was due to life just not making it possible. Normally that’s the only reason I take a complete day off as life normally gets in the way more often!