Over-unders: Unders the hard part?

Just finished my first over-under workout, Tunnemah. Strangely enough, it seemed like the hardest part was keeping the pedal turning during the last few “under” portions. Normal ?

Yes. You’re ‘recovering’ under load. It hurts.


Very normal. The under part is way worse.

Good to know. Thanks, folks!

The expectation that 95% should feel way easier than 105%, followed by the realization that it doesn’t and you’re about to hit 105% again, is what kills you mentally.


In a nut shell, the 95% will start to feel easier the more you are adapted to training. The reason why, I am not sure - many say it’s due to lactate clearance but evidence suggest this isn’t related to fatigue. Just keep training and you will notice improvements in recovery.

It’s purely psychological. The ‘under’ is still at threshold. We get used to working hard for X minutes then we can rest. There are no rests during O/Us (except the rest intervals, obviously :stuck_out_tongue:)

Embrace your inner masochist. The under is where the discomfort of the over combines with the sweet relief of recovery as it slowly fades in. I’ll just leave it at that so I don’t get moderated, hopefully you get the gist. :rofl:

The 90-95% takes some getting used to and my body definitely would prefer to drop lower. But I have grown to enjoy that slow feeling of relief as you progress through the under. I think there might be something wrong with me.

Considering how cyclists ‘fetishize’ suffering, pain and discomfort I thought more people on the forum would be fans of O/Us. I don’t enjoy suffering, but I’ll take O/Us over 3min VO2max intervals any day.


Find comfort in knowing that the burning smell is you getting faster.

I just keep reminding myself that it’s an intensity at which I am actually recovering and to keep going and it will eventually clear.

1 Like

I used to be the poster boy for Under Agony when I started TR. Excruciating pain due to having zero aerobic-induced lactate clearing/shuttling ability. Did a LOT of Z2 hours the last couple of years and now O/U torture is a thing of the past.


It’s the “under” that wins races though right? If you do a big pull and crumble it aint as spicy as doing a big pull and then hanging on !!!

1 Like

The way I tend to treat these, or other workouts where you have a 30s or whatever surge bit in there, is I visualize myself as part of a paceline, where once I am on the front it’s just a LITTLE bit harder, then once I’m off the front, it’s a LITTLE easier, but not quite as hard as I deift back, rinse and repeat.

I get through them much better mentally this way.

1 Like

I think it is partly due to expectation: you expect the under to feel better, but for me it takes 30sec to 1m30s before the (very marginal) relief starts.

The best way I have found to deal with this: expect the burn to last, just tell yourself that you are indeed „recovering“ already, „just give it 30 seconds“. Coach Chad mentions that coping trick in some workout texts.

The second way I have to cope is to endlessly repeat cue words. „Work“ and „Strong“ for the over, „Smooth“ and „Recover“ for the under.

Yes, when dropping from the OVER back to the UNDER the temptation is drop way under – maybe not to 40-50% power but certainly to 80-85% instead of 95%. I can be paying full attention and I find my power production lagging under target and I need to steel myself to get the power up. Usually then things get normal and probably about 1/2 way through the recovery valley things are getting easier and I notice my HR starts to lower.