Age groupers hitting the wall on training weekdays

When endurance athletes are in training and are applying copious volume and intensity they are going to get tired. There is just no way around it. I have written and spoken on the subject many times.

However, I have seen several of my age groupers hitting a wall of fatigue when they reach Thursdays. This usually happens in athletes in their mid-40s and older. Master athletes at these ages typically should be able to train a full 2 weeks with one passive recovery day per week.

I find that the master’s age groupers that run into this are overestimating their ability to recover from Break Through Workouts earlier in the week. These same athletes are often using just Heart Rate to measure their intervals with very few power meter users having this problem. Those masters level age groupers using power meters that hit the wall on Thursdays often have this problem due to a large increase in their Chronic Training Load, CTL, score. While an increase in CTL is often desirable but planning for an increase is necessary. Raising CTL is like anything in endurance sports training. Raising it in moderate terms such 10-20% would be advised. All athletes are different and recover at different rates. While age plays the largest role in recovery some careful planning can help reduce the stress in a sharp increase in your CTL.

What can you do to prevent hitting the wall?

There are several approaches, especially around data.

  • Power users should watch for a sharp increase in CTL and back off accordingly.
  • Power users should also watch IF scores >0.9 on consecutive days
  • Heart Rate users should watch for increases in wakeing Heart Rate
  • Hear Rate users should also watch out for increases ambient resting HR values

Get more rest

  • Sometimes just an extra hour of sleep each night will do the trick
  • If you have to stand, lean on something
  • If you do not have to stand sit
  • If you do not have to stand, lay down

Visit your Doctor and get blood work done

  • Explain to your doctor what is going on
  • Master athletes that are recommended hormones remember you will need a Therapeutic Use Exemption to legally compete
  • Pay close attention to iron, vitamin D, magnesium and hematocrit values
  • If your Doctor tells you it’s just because you are aging find a second opinion

Make sure your nutrition is dialed in

  • Hire a sports nutritionist who can read your blood values
  • Get a metabolic rate test
  • Supplements may be necessary to get you where you want to be

 Take on more protein

  • Endurance athletes and all athletes need more protein than your average person
  • Not all proteins are created equal so to keep it simple supplement with non-denatured whey concentrate
  • When eating whole foods for your protein remember the fewer the legs the better

Did I say rest?

  • Make 2 days a week passive recovery
  • Add active recovery days between each Break Trough workout
  • Add a transition week at the end of each 6-week training block
  • Or add a transition week at the end of 2 training periods
  • Transition weeks do not have to be passive but instead light activity away from cycling and or running

The above bullets are simply tips for thinking about how you can discover what works for you. Not all the above may be applicable to your endurance sport. However just implementing a few changes in rest patterns, sleep and diet will often help in the short-term. To deal with the long-term problems of recovery you just need to be consistent with your training, rest patterns, sleep, and diet.

Notes about passive and active recovery

Athletes I work with are mostly type a competitive cyclists and multisport athletes who are not afraid to work. This can be problematic when I schedule a passive rest day. I am often told they feel better if they go out for an “easy” ride and run. While I agree that often this will feel better than just taking a day off we need these days and sometimes weeks off the bike to make the physical adaptations we are training so hard for.

I also find that having an active recovery day on a schedule gets confused as a passive day of recovery. Active recovery can simply mean going for a walk or truly an easy spin on the bike. Sometimes athletes who are dealing with busy professional lives need these days away from the bike. This doesn’t mean that they should take the full day off. Instead of a short easy ride dealing bike-handling techniques, cadence drills for cyclists. Runners can run easy on trails or stretch and even do some light core work.

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 Until Next Time,

Train Smarter Not Harder,

Coach Rob

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