Recovery Weeks and Testing

I’ve read, searched and know there is a bunch of stuff out there, but feel compelled to start another thread on recovery weeks and assessments.

Background: 43, M, cyclist coming back from basically a 3-year hiatus from any serious training due to work. Very used to disciplined training and racing previously. Basically did a pretty unstructured year July 2019 through August 2020, but stuck to “normal” periodization protocols. Shifted exclusively to indoor training in October and started TR on MV programs. I’ve completed SSB I & II and just entered General Build.

Issue: Every time I complete a recovery week and go into the next Week 1 assessment I die and completely “fail” the assessment. Like, really fail… like only get to 75% of my FTP with HR and RPE through the rough. I’ve re-tested days apart, tried different assessment protocols. Get frustrated and use WKO+ and my RPE at the end of the proceeding block to conservatively raise my FTP (no more than 5%).

After a week of feeling like poo mentally and physically after all this, I’ve generally completed all assigned workouts well and on target.

Question: I’ve read about some physiologies require more constant stress (openers, “touching” VO2 and threshold systems) even during recovery periods for them to stay sharp. Should I seriously considering “re-building” my recovery weeks or look to change when the assessment is done and keep the recovery weeks as is?

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I’ve played around with recovery weeks and messed them up every way possible. For me, I think I’ve figured out that “it depends.” And what I mean by that is if I’ve really dug myself into a hole (like I did this most recent time) then a whole bunch of Z2 rides like most TR plans have is about all I want to do. Other times some intensity is good.

Generally what I do is the Z2 rides per the plan until my legs don’t feel tired at the start of a ride. I wait one more day then start to add some sweet spot work back into the ride (usually 1x15’, then 2x15’, etc). I don’t always test between blocks but usually do it at the end of the recovery week or Monday of the first week of the next block and repeat the previous Tuesday’s hard ride. You can check out my calendar week of 28 Dec 2020 for some examples of this. With that said, on another thread, people have reported that they test earlier in the recovery week when they start to shed the fatigue. Others have also said that they drop the duration of workouts but still do some intensity (i.e. VO2, threshold, etc). Some use openers (i.e. Truuli, etc) to get this.

TLDR: I don’t have a prescription for you but feel free to experiment. Just listen to your body. If you need rest, then rest. If you need a little fatigue before hitting the first week then go make that happen.

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I’ve had more good ramp tests than bad, and the bad ones come back with an Ramp-Estimated-FTP around 85% of what I can actually do on sweet spot / threshold intervals. The only pattern I can see is that WKO has my FTP as % estimatedVO2max in the upper 80s (like 88-89%) however there are some good ramp tests at that same fractional utilization. In any case, an 86+% fractional utilization is an outlier so take that for what its worth.

FWIW I definitely appear to respond well to a different style of recovery week than what is in TR’s SSB MV plans. I stopped doing ramp tests over a year ago, so can’t offer any other thoughts if you are looking to continue using the ramp test.

Your RPE is through the roof at the top of zone 2?

no, its from a ramp test.

Here is a bad ramp test:

Didn’t even hit HRmax (175), but RPE was through the roof and I blew up and felt headachy and crappy for a couple of hours. No idea what happened.

Going in my estimated FTP from previous ramp was 240W (3 months prior), and the ramp test 6 weeks prior was another bad test at 188W estimated but I was doing SSB plan at 245W FTP.

The ramp test above estimated my FTP at 195W. A few days after the test I manually set FTP to 230W and proceeded with doing sweet spot work.

So that ramp test I “got 85% of my FTP with RPE through the roof.”

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Absolutely. My LTHR has been a consistent 172-175bpm over the past year (sometimes a bit lower indoors). I like HR analysis for use in considering environmental factors so I pay attention to it.

This past week after a recovery week, my P is high Z2 or Tempo and I’m at 170bpm. I’ve calibrated, and recalibrated the P-meter. My resting HR is normal and sleep/nutrition is consistent the past 10 days. Same same about 6 weeks ago last time this happened.

Interesting way to do recovery I like that you’re flexible with it.

What is your ratio of inside riding vs outdoor riding? Do you need more recovery from inside riding?

Thanks

That’s bizarre

I only rode outside last year 13.5 hours - so almost everything is indoors.

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Whoah! Really? So…is that because of C19?

I apologize for prying, I just can’t imagine…year round spinning in my house.

Do you not like riding outside? I can barely do 4 months of inside riding and the minute the weather is decent in March I’m outside and rarely, maybe 1-2 times a month, do I get back on the trainer (might be why I’m not very fast).

Interesting.

My only time to ride is early in the morning before work and before the kids wake up on the weekends. I’m almost always done before the sun rises.

Also the first half of 2020 I lived in Connecticut. The outdoor riding season is short, the winters can be very cold and icy, and there weren’t many safe roads to ride on nearby.

Before that I was in Florida, which is where I actually picked up cycling, and lived in a very quiet neighborhood where I could safely ride outside any time of day, light or dark. I didn’t even own a trainer, but also wasn’t doing any structured riding. The weather was also conducive to riding outside year round.

I’m in Virginia now and hope to get outside a bit more in 2021. However, work and family obligations are still going to force an overwhelming majority of the rides to be inside.

Cycling has been my primary cardio workout for the last four years or so. Before that it was running. I don’t mind riding inside and really enjoy the efficiency of it. I dual ride Zwift as a distraction but haven’t done an event, free ride, or race in over a year (too OCD about sticking to the plan).

I am hoping to get outside more this year, though. I have a PM so now I can try outdoor workouts (yes, I know I could have done them based on RPE). There are some wide, quiet roads in the country side and bike paths along some of the busier roads (still have to stop at crossing roads, though). It really comes down to the efficiency and safety of it.

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Ufff…so I am not the only one. Now I feel a lot better :slight_smile:

And 5.5 of those hours were a solo, self-supported century. :slight_smile:

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I’ve switched my power assessments (I use 20min) to the second week of a block because I usually feel like garbage after a rest week. But week 2 in a block I’m feeling great. It is weird.

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Appreciate all the feedback. Makes me feel better I am not completely off or “doing something wrong”. Think I am going to go with a modified recovery week (test earlier) and look at easing into new blocks with a gentler week 1. I’ll circle back in about 5 weeks with an update.

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You can and should probably do that. I would reduce up to 50% TSS and then schedule an opener the day before you do the ramp test. You can keep some intensity during your recovery week and take days off instead of all those days of Z2. I think TR is the only plans I’ve been on that do pure Z2 and lots of it, during recovery weeks. Reduced TSS, keeping intensity, maybe Z3 and low Z4, and less workouts are more common for me.

The opener will help you from feeling like garbage for the test. It’s similar protocol to what you would do before an event.

I do what Craig G does and test in the second week. I like that way because I find a get a more meaningful measurement and I don’t have to make changes that could undermine the biggest goal of the recovery week (ie to recover)

I’ve been having success doing the ramp test the Saturday of recovery week. I’m following mid volume plan, 3 easy rides (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday) I make even easier by staying in more z1. By the time Saturday rolls around it’s been 5 days since an intense workout and I feel great.
If I do great I get a couple more easy rides, about 4 days before the first hard interval session. If I don’t do great on the ramp test I retest when it’s originally scheduled.
Been working for me so far.

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After a restweek i start with 2 short tests. For example 30-1min all out and 3-5min all out. Later in the week, when the legs feel good again i will do a longer duration test 20-40min.

I’ve experienced this too - following rest week and then into ramp test as per the plan the ramp test just felt disgusting. I’d felt good on the Saturday Z2 workout but I knew from about 5 minutes in something wasn’t right. My legs felt numb and RPE was really high, HR never got anywhere close to threshold - resulted in a reduction of 15-20watts. Ignored the result and just followed the plan on the previously tested FTP and all is good. I think the lack of intensity in the recovery week doesn’t agree with me either. Probably better doing some shorter rides in recovery week but including some openers and shorter sweetspot intervals.