When You Fail a Workout

Do you go back and keep hammering until you’ve nailed it?
Or do you bury it six feet under and keep moving forward?

  • Next!
  • Repeat…

0 voters

I chose “Next”, but I always include notes and reflection on what I think may have contributed to the failure. That way, if/when this same workout shows on my calendar again, I can preview those old notes and might just be able to improve performance on the next go of this specific workout (and maybe others that are similar too).


I don’t always repeat, but have when I’m super pissed!

Last year, I did a 3 week block of all my failed workouts from the past few months. It was hilarious, but I actually did really well on them the second time around.


Can you add an option for ‘it depends how badly I fail’?:joy:


I usually repeat the whole week if it was a key workout (ss or v02 progression, etc). Most of the time the fail was from also running and lifting and that just makes my progress slower then the plans assume. That is expected result so I just push the plan and repeat the whole week. If the fail was cause i was hung over or under fed or was just being a lazyass then i forget it and move on.

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Move on, a similar workout or even the same workout will come up soon enough.


Define “fail”

This morning I did a modified version of (obsolete?) Stanislaus. 1 min @ 116%, 45 seconds recovery.
Screen Shot 2021-01-28 at 11.44.22 AM

I tweaked it in Workout Creator so the last three intervals ‘kick it to the wall’ (127%). Well, having started the workout at 4:30am, doing an LSCT warmup, then this thing, I bombed interval #14 and #15. Finally, #16 was fine, because of course I gave myself 15 seconds of unplanned/unearned recovery.

Was this a failed workout? I don’t know. Goes back to my age-old query to TR staff… “what defines failure?”

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This is not a failed workout. Not saying you are, but it seems like many people get hung up on perfection completion. I would guess if you did this workout outside, you would see dips in your power almost every interval just based on the terrain you are riding on. Even if you stopped and could not complete the very last interval, I still would not view it as a ‘failed workout’.


Yeah, that whole 90% adherence (or whatever number has been mentioned) is worth remembering. Taking a few back pedals, stretching a recovery with a short pause and such are not what I call “failures”. Items covered in this TR article seem like reasonable ones to use and still consider a workout a “win” and not a failure, in my eyes

  • Totally crashing and falling apart is more of what I consider a failure:

My most recent Failure example, and my notes trying to diagnose it:

*** FEELS DURING: OK, even though I screwed up in looking at this before. Had a bunch of gummy bears during warm up and before 1st hit. Thru the 1st ok, but I knew something was off at the end of the 2nd. Needed a back pedal recovery which is no good this early. Ate and rolled into the 3rd, but fatigue built early. Tried backpedal and dropped to 97%, but still struggled. Ate and tried to recover for the 4th, but it wasn’t happening.

Not sure what the heck is off, but I crashed hard. This is my first workout at the new FTP, but a 2.5% increase shouldn’t be killing me like happened. Looking back at prior weeks, I ripped the O-U workouts that were around this duration. Seems like an off day and will try to reset my head for the hard Sat workout. Don’t get down on this miss.

On occasion, I get something like this, but am able to at least finish at endurance for the total duration. That wasn’t even an option this day, so “failure” is something like this, at least to me.


lol, if that’s considered failure…well let’s say I’ve not done real well on most of my harder workouts.

I think this is what most are talking about “failure”

My power numbers seemed ok, my HR was fine…I just mentally quit. I don’t think my legs were too sore from the weeks effort. Mentally I just gave up.


There are times when I “fail” a workout, but that can usually be attributed to an outside factor (work or family stress, etc), not necessarily poor fitness or just incapable. When this happens, I find a balance as to what I can do. As an example, last weekend I had Palisade and just couldn’t bring myself to do it, so I went with my own modification of 3X20:00 at mid-tempo pace. Result was a good, steady muscular endurance work out. I didn’t want to give up the saddle time, and didn’t want to get half way through the scheduled work out then bail. Just my take on it.

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Don’t bury it, learn from it and move forward. If it happens enough, then the plan is failing you. The principle of individualization recognizes that training should be adjusted according to age, rate of progress, strengths/weaknesses, previous training history, etc. Coach Hunter Allen’s viewpoint article: Individualizing Your Training With WKO4 | TrainingPeaks

If I fail, I’ll usually try a minus variant the following day.

Edit: that is, if I fail early in the workout. If I get over 50% complete, then I move on.

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So, this’ll sound super wishy-washy but, surely the only failure is failing to learn. Even if you don’t take notes, you begin to see a pattern emerging.

I had a red flag during Mary Austin in December 2020. I had no intention of doing the workout again. I knew what I’d done wrong. I’d got cocky, thought I could handle too much fatigue.

So I swallowed my pride. Took some rest, dropped my FTP after a Ramp Test and moving forward, I’ve added additional recovery to my plan. Moving forward, I’m in a better place.


Looks like my epic meltdown this morning.


Sadly familiar right there :frowning:

I don’t fail, I just didn’t succeed as much as I wanted to. :rofl:

I’ve been putting a lot of focus on developing the mental aspects recently. I feel like it has really helped with giving me better perspective on how I view my performance individual workouts in the larger context of my plan and my progression, and not letting the occasional issue derail ‘the plan’.


I thought the other day, perhaps it would be cool if TR app had an option to reduce the resistance once it detected a potential fail - steady rpm decline, until either rpm stabilizes or starts raising.

It would be good. When I run TR on the laptop I toggle (‘T’ button) into resistance mode if I think Im heading towards the spiral of death. Then once my cadence is back up to speed I toggle back to ERG. Im doing most work outs on the kindle and annoyingly there’s no quick toggle :neutral_face:

I generally just move onto the next workout.

As others have stated, important to contextualize the presumed fail and even if you should consider it a fail at all. For example, here’s my “fail” for Spencer +2 on Monday:

You can see where I had to pause the workout during the second and third interval from the decrease in HR and spike back up in power. I reduced the power target for fourth interval and gradually put some back on for the fifth and sixth intervals. So I think I managed to salvage a decent amount of benefit from the workout and certainly wouldn’t consider it a complete fail.