TSS and Relative Effort when coming back from illness/ injury

Finding this to be key. Take care as you continue your recovery.

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Definitely one of the big lessons I learned throughout the whole process, the delay between when you’ve overdone it & when you find out you’ve overdone it. Quite often I’ve been fine the next day & then got floored a day or two later.

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I’m 5 weeks in now and still getting smashed by it. Walking very slowly is about my limit right now ; tried a few recovery rides at a barely pedalling intensity… Thought I was on the up… Then got smacked down very hard. I’ve been trying to be very aware / careful, but I guess what I’ve found so far is that right now, even on a good day I’m still so far off ok that I just need to “keep it real”.

I only use level mode, so modifying intensity is easy enough. Several of my fit friends also had a rough time, took them all about 3-4 months to get back to normal.

I’m getting a bunch of weird hr, asthma and inflammation stuff so I’m just doing nothing at the moment other than some very easy yoga stretches. Something else weird is that I’m getting sugar drops unless I eat lunch. Pre covid I rarely ate lunch - would just have breakfast and dinner and maybe some fruit during the day. But now I’m getting bad sugar drops by the afternoon, so having to modify my routine.

From what I’ve seen so far there isn’t a lot of good info out there about recovery protocols. The best advice I’ve seen seems to be don’t rush it, and take it easier than you think.

Most info is targeted at people who really don’t exercise, and don’t measure aspects of their fitness (such as hr, pwr:hr, ftp, tte etc). I think there’s a good opportunity to use this kind of data to make more informed recovery protocols. Would be happy to be involved in this.

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Agree. A significant issue is that everyone responds differently and we probably all know some who have really battled to get back on top, and others that had a sneeze or two, got back on the bike within a few days and haven’t looked back. We all want to be in that second group but unless we are, pretty much everyone I’ve spoken to says to take it easier than you think, and don’t expect a straight line recovery.


If you are still feeling fatigued get checked. Five weeks should be sufficient, if you were vaccinated, to be back on the road to recovery and being able to do moderate exercise. You may have a secondary infection and those can be VERY nasty and actually more dangerous than the original infection.

Brief update on this:

  1. Many of you will be pleased to hear that I have not looked at TSS at all this week. And that’s despite me having dialled down my FTP and MAP so that it would be more accurately reflected.
  2. Dialled efforts down to Z2 this week with nothing above that.
  3. While I’ve taken note of HRV, sleep and waking heart rate,and heart rate responsiveness and recovery, I’ve placed more importance on just how I feel e.g. I’d planned to do an hour’s Z2 on Thursday morning but, despite HRV4Training telling me I was all good to go I felt I wasn’t. So did 30 min Recovery instead - felt good for having done it and great for not having done more. Yesterday HRV4Training told me I should limit my intensity but after a great night’s sleep and feeling great that didn’t seem right so I did 90 minutes Z2. Felt great. (And HRV good today.)

So I got a fair 6 hours of predominantly Z2 in this week (with 2 very light KB sessions and 2 Yoga sessions) and feel I’ve had a good week. Knowing I haven’t overdone it but also knowing I’m on the path back. And TBH I’m feeling a bit embarrassed that I even posted the question that started this thread. I seem to have become a bit wiser in just a week …


It’s good to hear that you’re feeling a bit better.

Here’s a question…did you monitor HRC before? (I think youve said before that you did). Was it more reliable then then now?

I monitored mine religiously for about 6 months. It was an utter failure with regard to any kind of indicator of fatigue or signal for choice of training effort. In contrast, going off how I felt was very reliable once I’d learnt to filter the difference between actual fatigue and things like a general “I did 9 Hammers yesterday”.

As an instructor/coach, I can truthfully state there is no such thing as a stupid question. Certainly not this one. Each journey back is individual. The next thing is where do you go from here? Start to incorporate harder and longer rides. Nothing like Kitchen Sink, but maybe some that hits the threshold/sweet spot. Maybe add in Endurance 1.5 or 2 to the mix as well. If you feel fatigued, back off for a few days until you feel strong again.

Thanks Lee

HRV - been monitoring it religiously for over a year now. Apple Watch, every morning before I get out of bed, tried sitting up and lying down (no difference). In brief - no, I don’t find it useful for monitoring training fatigue. It’s plummeted for a few days after every Covid vaccination, when I had Covid and when I had my shoulder surgery last year. It will plummet after an exceptionally hard workout/ event (for a day) but doesn’t seem to change on accumulated fatigue.

HRV4Training has been most useful for me through the “diary” part i.e. it forces me to ask myself how I’m feeling, how I slept, DOMS etc and now I’m in a much better of habit of doing so. Ross Tucker, from the Real Science of Sport Podcast, says keeping a diary is the best thing an athlete can do to monitor their training. I definitely agree.

Something like the Oura ring may be more accurate (although according to Marco Altini from HRV4Training Apple Watch is just fine) but why add something when you can listen to your body and have the answer anyway? I do however find a HRM and PM very useful - in that order. My gravel bike doesn’t have a PM and because I use a HRM I don’t miss the PM as much as I thought I would.


Thanks Sir James. Yesterday and the day before were both Endurance 1.5 (Endurance +) and very comfortable throughout those. Journey so far:
Week 1 (Started day 8 after testing positive for Covid) - 2 short Z1 rides and 60 minutes Z2
Week 2 - 6h20 Z2 (and a little Z1)
Week 3 - 6h40 - Z2 plus those mistaken sub-threshold and MAP rides that nailed me!!!
Week - 4 - 6h00 Z2 (1hour was Z1)

So plan this week (feeling really good going into it) is to have a Recovery week with only a few workouts in which I’ll include Recharger and possibly Openers to add some mini-intense efforts. I then think I’ll probably do High volume Base Block (6-8 hours/week so not huge) which has some tempo but nothing too dramatic, and then probably a MAP block. Strength and Yoga incorporated. By then the rain should be largely gone, the sun shining and I should be back to riding lots outside. And, touch wood, back to being healthy (rather than just not being sick).

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Sounds like a great plan Sir Craig. If needed, you can and should reach out to the Coaches to see if a custom plan will fit better being that you are post-COVID. I had one of the best rides I had in the last two years today as well.

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Thanks Sir James. I’ll see how I go before reaching out to the coaches. At this stage, being more sensible, things feel good and on track and I might save that Coach plan for an event or two I think I’ll target.

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Having been in a similar position myself and not wanting, or even being able to do a maximal test, I based my power zones on HR. So my Z2 HR was 120bpm and power for that maybe 240 watts. After covid and a lay off my HR for 120bpm was more like 180 watts. So a 25% drop which I applied to my FTP, 400 down to 300. Probably not fully scientifically accurate but based on feel and HR it worked pretty well for me. There are many other factors at play, and repeatability of efforts was impaired a LOT especially after anything maximal. But for sub threshold and getting back to fitness sustainably its a good place to start.

This method will at least ensure TSS is a bit more accurate

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Thanks @Coach.Andy.T. I seem to be over the worst of it now but your approach certainly helps put in a ballpark figure. I lowered my FTP which immediately made my TSS more “accurate” although I also stopped worrying about using a TSS as a metric - “listen to my body”. The good news is that I’ve concentrated on increasing volume at low intensity (Z2/ 1 and recently bit of tempo in the Base Block) and had my first test of it on a small club ride yesterday - a bit of climbing and a 5 person Team Scream. I felt good, climbed and TT’d better than I thought I would and seem to have pulled up well. Short recovery ride done today and I’ll take tomorrow off before longer rides Friday/ Saturday. So I think I’m getting there and, hopefully, that will continue.

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Glad things are going better for you on the bike now. Sounds like you’re doing exactly the right level of training, testing yourself, and recovering!

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