Seeking Recovery Advice

Hello all,

I’ve been struggling to keep up with TR low-volume and it’s driving me absolutely bonkers. I’m hoping some of you may have some pointers for me.

Now, I’m no stranger to cycling and high volume of effort. I raced XC in the late 90s and early 2000s as a kid, have done multiple Gran Fondos since then, and last year trained for - and completed - an IM 70.3. Work has become more demanding recently so I attribute a lot of the issue to that, but I can’t seem to adapt well enough to compensate.

Here’s the struggle: at work I’m on my feet 8-10 hours per day, which fluctuate between opening and closing shifts multiple times per week, with the occasional “mid-shift” thrown in because why not. During those hours I will walk anywhere from 10-15 miles. (16-24km). To complicate it even more, some weeks I work 6 days and others I work 4. I lift twice per week, one hour each session. To compensate for that plus the cycling, I’m consuming 4 - 5,000 calories per day and maintaining body weight/mass. I’ve tried compression, sleep aids and massagers but just can’t seem to recover enough to consistently nail my intervals. I’m sure someone here has lived through something similar… any advice at all would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you!

You know your own body. Trust it. When you wake in the morning ask yourself how you feel. If you feel good do an interval session. If you don’t try and do 30-60 min Z2. If you feel really crappy. Sleep instead. Backing off for a week or three isn’t going to kill you. Rest recover and when your body feels strong again pick up the training.

Personally I think 2 interval sessions a week is enough. The other days either get trees sleep or Z2mell the roses.


I do a LV plan and probably because of my group rides on weekends, commute, I’m finding 3 HI sessions too much at the moment (even substituting the paceline for a TR workout). I was doing that relatively easily at the start of the year but after a fortnight’s break the wheels seem to have come off. I don’t feel I’m working any more or less but I’m just not getting the same speed for a given effort. As an experiment the last couple of weeks I’ve dropped the middle TR workout down to an endurance one on the LV plan (that pattern worked well for me last winter when I was on a MV plan and substituting weekend group rides for SS wo’s). Like as said above I think 3 full on days are too much for me at the moment and my body is telling me that and I’m breaking from the plan but still maintaining structure. Don’t be afraid to do similar.

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How hard are your lift session?

I think there is a misnomer that “Low Volume” is supposed to be easy. In fact, it’s probably harder minute for minute because the idea TR has is that if you don’t have that much time to train, you need to train harder in the limited time you have. 3 intense workouts is more than I do doing 10-12 hours per week, so it’s nothing to be ashamed of not being able to do 3 intense workouts a week. I’d suggest dropping one and replacing it with an easier ride and seeing if that helps the other two workouts.


Thank you all for the feedback,

I’ll certainly have to try dropping an interval session in favor of more z2. I’ll see if that works out any better. I’m starting a new block next week, so it’ll be a great time to change some things around.

Nothing extreme. Combined they’ll hit about 40 TSS (as determined by Strava’s algorithms).

When I read through you description of your activity level it reminds me quite a bit of what happened to me during the last half of 2018 and the first half of 2019. In nutshell I was very much over doing it with my activities and just kept going until On July 4th 2019 I hit a breaking point and it became ugly pretty quickly over the next few weeks as my body and eventually my brain were unable to effectively deal with the damage.
It doesn’t sound like you are at that point but you may be headed there. Just based on my experience I would suggest that you gradually reduce the volume and the intensity of your workouts over a couple of weeks to the point you actually stop workouts completely for another few weeks. During that time focus on rest and nutrition so your body can heal. Then over 3-4 weeks gradually and gently add back your workouts.

Now that sounds scary. I hope you were able to recover quickly! Thank you for relating your experience, you certainly gave me a few more points to consider.

Are you getting 8+ hours of sleep a night? That’s hard to do sometimes with life commitments and stresses. Physiologically we have a stress reservoir and our body does not discriminate between what that stress is, be it emotional, physical, etc. (I can link the study if you like). As our stress levels rise, be it from work, parenting, training or even something environmental like hot weather you need to realize the stress on your body increases. In these cases you either need to sleep more… or if that’s just not possible, need to cut back on the intensity of training. In the case of the later, as a coach I often will adjust based on how the athlete is feeling, sometimes on the fly. It’s ok to do one less interval or those cut the duration of your VO2 intervals in half or slow down. Sometimes scrap it together.

I remember fondly one time driving to the workout and I was just gassed. I was in a heavy load phase and just sat in the car not wanting to get out. The coach saw me and told me to go home and go to bed. The sleep helped me more than any workout would have. We did it the next day and felt better. The biggest thing when work and life is busy is to have a flexible schedule, cut back when you need and try to be consistent as possible.

Best of luck!!

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It took in total a little over 3 years to recover about 98%. I still have a lingering issue with a damaged lumbar disc.