Why do I feel stronger after a 4-day training block?

Why would I feel stronger at the end of a 4 day block of 14.5hrs on day 4 vs. day 1?

Background, just came back 90 days ago to training hard after a 12 year period of riding whatever whenever, was US Pro 2008,2009. Peak 20min power back then was 365-375

I came into the block having been training 11-19hrs per week for the last 3 months.

I rested 5 days straight leading into the block to clear out some heavy residual fatigue from 4 weeks of base training prior.

Day 1 of block was 4hrs Z2 with 5x10min at 284w 50RPM cadence at a recent peak 20min power test of 332w. Felt fine the intervals were easy to achieve, left gas in the tank for the rest of the weekend.
Day 2 3.5hrs Z2, quads quite sore from day 1
Day 3 4hrs Z2 with 50min Z3 @278w half at 75rpm half at 90rpm, this effort felt challenging and i was SUPER tired later that day after this.
Day 4 3hrs Z2 with 90min at Sweet Spot @293w. I felt like a complete monster, my quads felt like they’d been beat with a baseball bat but i felt unstoppable on the bike, like i could’ve done 2hrs at sweet spot and 5hrs of volume.

Back in my days of training Pro I also noticed that my last day of a block i felt super strong even though i’d wake up totally beat down and exhausted.

Phisiologically how is this happening and what causes that feeling?

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That is a sweet overreach block @Mtwinste , well done! I’m no expert, but I’m guessing it’s due to your natural endogenous opioids and cannabinoids. I suspect the brain dopamine and serotonin systems can help make us feel strong and in a good mood when on a good training run. You taking some time to rest now? Cheers, Dr. Rob.

This is a recovery week for me. I was impressed I could hold sweet spot for 1.5hr. During the next month i’m going to shoot for 2hrs non stop sweet spot!

Definitely backing off this week to soak up all that damage!

I don’t have the answer to your question, but I do have a question for you:
can you measure your 20min peak power again after your recovery block? I really would like to know if this block made you stronger, or did more damage than you can supercompensate for.
Additionally, i would be great to hear how well you recovered in one week (HRrest & HRV, compared to baseline).

I can’t answer your question but I can repeat this old saying I’ve used since the 80s.

“During long distance events you walk / run / bike your way into shape by the third day. “

It was a truism that by the third day of the long distance multi day events I did in those days that by the third day I was either going really well or feeling broken.

It’s almost as though mentally and physically you adapt to knowing what to expect day after day and settle into it in a comfortable way.

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I don’t have a way to measure HRV and I haven’t been tracking resting HR but I can tell by how I’m feeling I’m going to recover well. I was thinking to 20min test this Saturday after 5 days of rest I should be ready.

I agree. It makes me wonder how long I could keep that going ? 5 days. 7? 10? Maybe on a larger scale that’s what happens in the tour GC contenders.

@robertehall1 is on it. Here’s a quote directly from Trevor in his article Running from Lions:

“Sometimes you ride your best near the end of a fatigue week.”

It sounds like you’re experiencing just what is expected toward the end of a fatigue block like the one you did. Great job!

There was a discussion a few weeks ago, on our local (RSA) cycling forum, about Block Periodisation.

I’ve come close to doing it, 5 HIT rides in week 1, made up of one session on Tuesday, rest on Wednesday and then a 4-day 700Km tour from home to the coast. The 4th day of the Tour was a popular point to point race over 106Km (1260m elevation gain). Wasn’t as fresh as the guys driving down to race on fresh legs, but I was feeling relatively strong.

Then the next 3 weeks were mostly LIT workouts and one HIT session before the final race of the Spring (Southern Hemisphere). I had my best performance at that A-race that year and haven’t come close since then (7-12 minutes off the pace in the last 6 years).

Not a pure Block Periodisation, but close to it.

Why did you do a 3 week taper seems long?

It wasn’t intentional to have a three week taper, that’s how life happened, and it turned out to be a good 4-week block. 5 years later, I found out what Block Periodisation was all about, and did some digging through my data each year to discover I had a similar block.

Some reasons why:

  • The weekend after that big first week, my club hosted our race; something we’ve been doing since 1984, but decided to move the event from February to end October (we organized two that year). I’m on the organising committee, so a lot of work to do in the week leading up to race weekend;

  • no time to do long rides, so short ones had to make do. I still have a full time job, so all the racing is volunteer work;

  • I forgot to enter the race on the following weekend, plus it was a very wet weekend. Many people didn’t race because of the conditions.

As I mentioned before, it wasn’t planned. The excessively high load in week 1, followed by three easier weeks did some good at the end of week4.

This happens to me when we go away on week long trips in the mountains. Day 3 many others are doing well but day 4 was always my best - just as lots of others were fading I would be at my best for the week. PBs on the climbs, dropping people that should be nowhere in sight etc.

Not quite sure why but I used to do a lot of 4 day training blocks due to my work schedules - bury myself by day 4 and then go away for a few days and recover. Might be a result of the pattern of your training from the past?

Maybe so. I always enjoyed 3-4 day block training because of the life of riding a lot and hard and then doing nothing for several days after. It’s hard to do with a full time job and family tho!

@geraldm24, on week 1 you said you had 5 HIT rides. I’m curious, what were those rides? Were they all in Zone 3 (of a 3-zone model)? It looks like you did 4 days over 700km, which I’m guessing was a much steadier arrangement of intensity, but if you could elaborate I would love to understand how you put this together. As you said, it’s approaching that 4 week block phase where week 1 contains an extremely heavy amount of HIT/HIIT, and then the next 3 weeks are very light.

Must I send you the FIT files for week 1? Might make for easier analysing compared to the screenshots below. Day 4 especially, as it was the race (not full gas, but for me a good solid effort.

It wasn’t planned to be HIIT, but rather some guys having fun on tour. Lots of attacks up the hills, into town, pacelines when we had a killer tailwind, and the usual “try to keep up” attitude. Good fun.

Looking back now, I see the HR data was mostly zone 1-4, compared to the Power being

I’ll post the rest of the easy weeks tomorrow. Just had to attend to my daughter who has been sick. Plus it’s 22:10 locally, so time for bed.

Low Intensity weeks

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

A Race week
Week total is slightly distorted as it included a second lap (3h23) of the race route, riding with the fun riders and weekend warriors.

what software is that you’re using i’ve never seen that?

Wow, that’s big! Almost 3h45m Z5+ power :muscle:

I’ve used blocks like this but with much less volume overall, so was really curious to see how you got there with this approach. My blocks were mostly 2-a-day sessions where Z5 work would be done with ~20 min work time per session, over 4-6 consecutive sessions (AM/PM split), and 3-4 days in a row. That would take up the weekdays, other days are off, and then normal LIT/volume on the weekend for the first week.

Interesting about the HR distribution with ~13 min total in Z5+. I’d be interested to see if that was on the front-end primarily. And then once you built your fatigue, HR was suppressed somewhat, limiting the responsiveness…or maybe those combined 3+ hours of Z5+ time in power zones came from a lot of shorter, punchy efforts over that time versus longer (e.g., ~3-4+ min) efforts?

Thanks for sharing!

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The first one is TrainingPeaks and the second is intervals.icu.

Here’s a workshop that I did on some of the basic features of intervals.icu.

And another one Trevor and I did where we talked about some Training Peaks features.

There’s more to come on that too. Our own @steveneal had a hand in designing some of the metrics as well, so we’re going to detail those in another workshop soon.

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The Fit files from the first week, as well as the race file can be downloaded here.