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Recovery Weeks and Race Performance(9 posts)

Recovery Weeks and Race PerformanceRockyMountainRacer
May 21, 2002 8:59 AM
Hi everybody. I have a question for you all about how race performance is affected by recovery weeks. First, some background:

Last week I decided to take a recovery week to let my body heal up because I wasn't planning on racing this past weekend. So Monday I did a one hour easy spin, then Tuesday I did 40 miles all easy spinning (ussually I do a training crit on Tuesday that is about 30 miles of hammering, plus 40 miles easy distance to the course and back). Wednesday I again did a one hour easy spin, then Thurday off (ussually I intervals on Thursdays plus some easy distance). So I did about half my usual miles with absolutely zero intensity.

Then I decided to do a mountain bike race on Saturday. I felt very bad in the race--I was able to power along at my lactate threshold, but I did not feel strong or fast. I also could not really go anaerobic at all without feeling like my legs were going to explode and I was going to crack. I finished with a much much slower time than I ussually have.

So it seems that I kind of forgot how to suffer in a race since I did no intensity in the week before. I felt well rested, but very sluggish in the race. Anyone experience anything like this before, or know any scientific basis for it?
well...lonefrontranger
May 21, 2002 9:17 AM
I'm only basing this on my very unscientific opinion and my past experience since I've only been correctly periodizing my training for a season or so.

My experience is that when you get hammered and take a recovery week like this with little to no intensity your system tends to shut down on you. I've experienced this myself. Your only solution is to get back into it at about 65% and build back up from there; this is the basis of Friel's periodization in a nutshell; you merely did the recovery week without a "taper" and subsequent focus event in between.

This year, what I've been doing is "tapering" before a focus event. The quick-and-dirty definition of tapering is dramatic lowering of volume with dramatic increase in intensity. My last taper week involved about 60% of the volume (time, distance) with several short "burst" efforts thrown in. I'm not terribly good with the metrics here but I essentially did a couple nights of sprints and one short set of speedwork. Everyone will respond differenty to tapering and I'm afraid you'll just have to dicker around with it until you find a combination that works for you. An added variable is that specificity of tapering will vary depending on the type of race you're peaking for...

YMMV
second thatmtber
May 21, 2002 9:30 AM
I, too, felt like sh*t at Nathrop (I assume that's the race you are talking about) but for the opposite reason - I think I was spent from racing 4 weekends in a row and training hard during the week. Actually what put me over the edge was doing just 4 standing starts (53/17) with some roadies from work on Fri after doing intervals on Thu.

But, LFR is correct - you cannot eliminate intensity during a rest week - you just need to cut back to 50-60% of the volume and ~60% of the time at intensity. I do best when I take it easy (or off) 2 days before the race and do maybe 1 or 2x3min low LT followed by 3-4x1 min all out efforts the day before the race and a similar workout BEFORE the race.
taper vs. peakRockyMountainRacer
May 22, 2002 7:27 AM
So what's the difference between a taper and a full-on peak? I guess the week I took was more of a "transition" than a "recovery" right? It's amazing how bad no intensity can wreck your form--I started to feel it coming back in the training crit last night though.
tapering properly will bring on a full-on peak (nm)lonefrontranger
May 22, 2002 8:31 AM
sometimes even accidentally :-) nmDougSloan
May 22, 2002 12:58 PM
Yeah, I peaked for a training crit a few weeks ago (nm)RockyMountainRacer
May 22, 2002 2:23 PM
My experience last weekChrisA
May 21, 2002 9:44 AM
Last week was my recovery week. I did about half the duration and all low intensity for seven days. Then I raced a mtn bike race on Sunday and took 2nd. I felt strong. Everyone is different. You need to try different things. I'd take the advice of the previous poster and throw some sprints and short intervals while keeping the volume down. Did you do any intensity the day before the race?
Damn, this is what happen to me.Canidraftyou
May 26, 2002 7:17 PM
I have trained 6 days a week since Med. Oct. of 2001 for this training season. I used the Joe Friel "Cycling Bible". I was training for a two peak season. I made a big mistake! My Peak and Race periods was to last for 6 weeks. It lasted 1 WEEK!!! Just like last year. When I was to be strong I was weak. NOW I KNOW.....for me, when I stop pushing (intensity)my body shuts down. During the week prior to intering the Race peroid I brought the workout down by 40% I also was doing about 60% of my normal workout. But I added two days of down time (rest days), when I normally only did one rest day. Well, race day came and I knew that I was not going to have it before the race started. Its the biggest race weekend here in Arkansas the "Joe Martin" a two day stage race with a RR/TT/Crit on Sunday, with hills being the focus. My mind was not into it. I did not even care. I was at the point of burnout. Let me tell ya, the second half of the season will be better. A longer Base III, and im only going to reduce my workout by 20% going into the Peak carrying it out into the Race weeks. And my food intake is going to pick up as I go into the peak instead of trying to loose 2 more pounds. Anyway, this is what makes us better. Sorry for being long.

Good luck to us all.