What Should My Legs Feel Like?

This is, I am sure, a totally noob question, but I’m confident I am not the only one that does not have this dialed in.

Over about the last 18 months now, I’ve started structured training (not new to cycling, but new to ‘fast’ cycling a few years ago), and have slowly been building up volume while adhering to the TR plans. Did low volume + extra last year, doing mid volume + some this year.

The question is this: what should my legs feel like? Last year, I didn’t really ever feel significant fatigue in my legs in the low volume plan. If I did, after tougher workouts like over unders, or VO2, I would generally forego the extra riding to let the fatigue dissipate before the next workout. As it is now…I generally still feel some significant fatigue from one block into the next. IE, I’ll do the overunder Sat workout in SSB1MV, then a 3-4hr endurance ride on Sunday. Then off/lazy mountain type ride on Monday, then hit the weekday 3 workout block still feeling fatigue in the legs on Tuesday.

I am trying to manage my volume now in the best way possible, given the extra time I have on my hands now. Given what I have heard on the podcast about legs ‘always hurting’…I am thinking my previous approach was incorrect, and I was likely under training.

Would anyone care to shed some light on what to look for in terms of day to day, week to week, to make sure you’re carrying an adequate level of fatigue/stress to force adaptations, but not so much as to overdo it?

dawg it all depends.

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Lol, I was fairly confident that was going to be the prevailing answer to this :joy:

To which I retort…personal anecdotes are totally fine/helpful. I’m not looking for professional coaching here, just a bit of light shed from more informed sources so I can work it out on my own with a bit better perspective.

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You really only find your own personal limit by over doing it imo.

Also not all tss is “equal” I can do a ton of endurance riding in a week. 600 tss and up, but if I tried to do 600 tss of interval work I’d likely be wrecked. You should generally be sore the day following intervals, but how sore depends on a bunch of factors.

I’d say do a high volume plan and stick to it 100% and try to nail every interval. If your ftp is set right it’ll likely push you up and over your limit as high volume is a lot for most amateurs

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My first season of structured training I was always calculating whether my legs were fresh enough to do the workout in front of me. I felt like I was on the edge of what I could handle if not a bit over. Going into season two I have added volume, but not intensity and I think my base is much better. I can’t recall feeling like I didn’t have legs at any point this season.

That was sort of the feeling I’ve had this year. The sore/tired/fatigued feeling in my legs oddly didn’t actually seem to make me slower, or have a harder time holding power. It was like a separate, additional, unrelated level of pain going on lol.

Look at it this way: if you felt fresh every Tuesday, Recovery Weeks would not be needed.

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I feel general light fatigue in my legs almost constantly, unless I’ve had a day off or a couple light days in a row. When it gets to be too much I know it and dial things back but a general sense of fatigue/dead legs is totally normal imo.

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Yikes. I just looked at the high volume plan.

In terms of absolute volume, it’s less than what I’ve been doing currently. More intensity though. The prospect of trying to tackle 2 hr sweet spot workouts on back to back days is daunting to say the least.

If I get through the year doing MV with ~10hrs. A week total, maybe I’ll give HV a try next year for yucks. I’m pretty confident I’m not ready right now though.

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My legs always feel heavy…sometimes more, sometimes less but never fresh :frowning:

Currently on SSB MV1.

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I was going to say “oak.”

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I honestly can’t remember the last time my legs didn’t hurt. :slight_smile:

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Hah, this confirms my suspicions, which is that I’m in no danger of overtraining, but just need to HTFU a bit and try to join the big boy training club lol.

Wouldn’t worry about your legs feeling tired too much. If the rest of you starts feeling tired too, that might be a sign to ease off though.

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Someone new once shouted “stop!” on a group ride, once we hastily came to a stop I asked “puncture, dropped chain?” and got the reply “my legs hurt”… to which I replied “my legs have hurt for 15 years!”. Yes, sympathy is high here :grin:

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That’s why I say not all tss is created the same and why all trainer road coaches have said on the podcast high volume isnt for many people. Everyone wants to do more, push themself, and get faster, but more stress means more damage and if you cant recover you arent getting stronger you’re just staying broken down.

Also yes, soreness doesnt mean you cant put out power. I’m currently still feeling the compounded efforts of Saturday and Sunday’s workout plus I did squats sunday as well. I expect to go into most workouts a little bit sore and expect to mentally push through them. I’ve had instances where I was sore, didnt wanna do my workout, and hopped into a zwift race where i did essentially one 70minute sweetspot effort including attacking and chasing (dam dropouts) slightly sore is good. Broken down is good at the end of training blocks. In a lot of pain daily isnt productive.

there is a certain amount of “soreness” that you can ignore before you legs feel “dead” I surpassed that on an outdoor ride a couple of weeks ago and I am still paying the price. I can tell because normally all of my systems “call it quits” at the same time. Now my legs are saying “I quit” halfway through a workout and the rest of me feels fine. for me keeping that balance is the key, it’s tricky though as I like to ride till I drop when I ride outside.

I’d play it be feel, so that means take Monday completely off and perhaps back off a little on Sunday. Or take Monday and Tuesday off. Make that first workout of the week really count, and make it the hardest of the week. Mid volume has a lot of intensity unless you are young or have a lot of fitness / “miles in the legs.” In the past I’ve been able to do back-to-back days of sweet spot (SSB-1 high volume) but that was done on a “wide” aerobic base + good strength endurance and I simply don’t have right now. Maybe your fitness+strength is fine and you simply need to modify SSB to go with 2 loading weeks and 1 recovery week? Sorry if that doesn’t shed much light, its not an easy question to answer. Try to keep general principles in mind, how you respond to training, and your limiters.

No no that’s good. This has all actually been helpful. My takeaway is basically that carrying a bit of soreness into a workout is fine…even beneficial as long as it’s not taken to far.

I think this has at least made me confident that I am more than ready for mid volume rather than low, even MV plus some volume. I may have taken it a bit too far last week when I went out for 2 hr endurance rides right after completing the scheduled sweet spot workouts on tue and Thursday. I was pretty wrecked going into the weekend. But…still made it through palisade (though I was mildly worried about a leg just falling off afterwards). So I think I have a happy medium between mid volume plans, and mid volume plus silly 2 hr rides right after lol.

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my advice, given personal focus on longer adventure rides, is to go long on the weekend. IMHO one long 5+ hour weekend ride is better than 2 rides (say a three hour and a two hour).

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