Whats the consensus on failing workouts?

If you fail an important workout, Do you replace it with the one that builds on it the next week? Next is tunemah which is a harder version.

Or ignore the failure and move on?

I technically failed the last interval of reinstien. Only hit a few of the targets, and had to backpedal a few times.

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There are 3 types of failure in my opinion –

  1. Good Failure
    ----This is where you are barely hanging on for the last few intervals or last few minutes – and maybe you have to take a backpedal or two. Or you dialed it down for the last interval, but only 2%-4% – but you pretty much hung in and got 99% of the benefit of the workout. Ignore this type of failure. Change nothing.
    Example below on Mills +1:

  2. Bad Failure
    ----You are overmatched. You start bailing out about 50% of the way through the workout. You backpedal. You dial down the intensity. You still backpedal. You dial it down again…and yet still backpedal. This is where you are going to want to re-evaluate and either ask yourself, 1) if you’re FTP is set correctly; or, 2) You are taxing a system that isn’t appropriately developed for what you’re asking of it . . . i.e. muscular endurance or Vo2. If the former is the case, obviously you’ll want to re-assess in some manner. If the latter is the case – you may want to minus down a workout, or find a workout that does the exact same thing, but in smaller intervals. For instance, if you can’t get through the 3 minute Vo2 intervals of Matthes +1, try doing a workout that has 2 minute intervals…or do the peak-and-fade of Mills and see where you are. Huffaker is also a great level-setting Vo2 workout. Or, if you can’t get through the 3x20 at threshold work of Galena +2, then try the 3x15 threshold work of Mount Goode or Kaweah and/or one of it’s derivatives. Once you can nail the stepped down workout, try punching it back up. In this way, I look at the Training plans as guides in terms of the type of work you should do, and also the weekly TSS. On threshold day, make sure you do threshold work – but pick a workout that isn’t going to destroy you. There are a HUGE number of ways to make up any missed TSS.
    Example of an overmatched workout below on Jepson:

  3. “It’s not your day” Failure
    ----This can be for a number of reasons…you’re sick. You’re overworked and need rest. Anything. This happened to me yesterday on a long threshold workout. My legs were cooked. The most important part of this type of failure is to recognize it as early as you can, and pull the plug. You don’t want to ruin yourself for tomorrow by piling bad stress on top of over-stress. I can generally feel it in the warmup – if my legs just feel much, much too burned while trying to loosen. However, I generally try to do whatever interval is in front of me, and think I might bounce back. 1-out-of-10 times I do. The rest of the time…I stop the ride. Maybe I switch to an endurance ride. Maybe I just get off the bike altogether and live to fight another day. Don’t change anything in this case. Just get some rest. Maybe pause your training plan for a week and do 3-4 days of Sweet Spot work, or Sweet Spot with an Endurance ride. Example of it not being my day on Spencer last December:

Point being – all failure isn’t created equal. Be tough on yourself. But be honest with yourself too. Don’t quit because it’s hard. Quit because you have to. Live to fight another day. Good luck :metal:


All of this :point_up_2:.


Plus 1 for the above.
It happens. Get over it and move on.

I’m not sure if I missed it in Batwood14’s response, but I like to hit the same workout if I’ve failed halfway through.
It can be surprising how quickly you’re body will adapt to a new level of work. Sometimes I can nail it the next day. Other times I need a day off first.
You might even find a ride is impossible at 5am, but totally achievable at 5pm on the same day.

Keep it up and it’s not a failure.

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Struggling, or not completing, a single workout is not significant.


This is the best breakdown ever.

If it’s type 1 pat yourself on the back, really focus on recovery and buckle up for the next one.

If it is type 3 - forget it and move on

Type 2 is tricky. If it’s multiple rides in a row or the same point in the week something needs to change. There are a lot of threads on overtraining- this could be a sign of it.

Here’s to type 1!

In my opinion, it’s only a failure if you quit. Most plans have at least one workout that will need modification but it is really hard to hit every power target for every workout. As long as you are making it for most of them you should be getting stronger.

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Hey, while we’re at it, can I ask what the consensus is on backpedals, in general? Like, to what extent are you “damaging” (probably not the right word) the intent and integrity of the workout?

Average watts of the interval vs. target. If you are 1-2 watts off, you still nailed it. 2+…then you have to start checking if you stayed in the target zone. If you do a 15 min threshold effort but take a bunch of backpedals to the point where the total average is in your ‘sweet spot’ power range you messed up.


I’ve had a few of these lately, it’s hard to not be hard on yourself but on further evaluation, I realised why I failed my workouts, adjusted accordingly and learning from it.

If you fail a lot and fail often then you are on too high a volume or your FTP is set too high.

Just my two cents.

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This is an amazing breakdown! I always struggle with VO2max work. I take Mondays off before them because I know they are going to thrash my legs. I have completed a few 100% as laid out, but a few times I know I will not be able to make it through. Would people recommend either changing the workout all together to a different variation of the workout (like suggested above) OR would it be better to just tone it down to maybe 95-98% of FTP and complete it as is?

Here is some good info. The right choice depends on the workout, interval intensity, interval duration, and possibly your current state.


That was a great read. I wonder where the line falls between using the bailout options and just reducing my FTP setting? Time to experiment!

I miss tonnes of sessions but I still improve my FTP. I’m not advocating for skipping sessions, but highlighting that it’s not so bad to miss targets or whole sessions.

I wonder what percentage of a training plan you need to complete to improve…?

Have you read this?

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@mcneese.chad Excellent. Pretty sure I need to drop FTP, despite good adherence to current SSB2 plan. Ego says no, body says yes :wink: and you need more sleep! Thanks!

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this is a great, useful post - thanks!

How exactly do you go about this? How do I pause my training plan (e.g. due to sickness, travel for work, etc.)

it could be an off day, so I personally try to repeat the same workout. If I pass it, then great, and I’ll either then Jump to the next one to stay on track, or just shift that main workout one week out each time…kind of a pain but more natural progression.

is there a TR article on this, maybe under how to rearrange the week @mcneese.chad?

Good luck!


My legs were bashed by bashful, did first set normally, put 2nd set 2% down intensity, last set i bailed after the 2nd interval, my legs were just hurting. (i didnt think it even finish the first interval of the last set) i knew my form was gonna suffer if i kept going so i called it quits.

I know my body isn’t used to this and honestly after that workout i was coughing up a lung (kinda like when i finish the ramp test or do hill sprint tabatas) so i know i pushed and gave it my all…hopefully next week i’ll be able to hang on

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