When to rest or scale down your training?

Some advice please. for the last few training sessions I have noticed that my workouts are getting harder to complete and the results are a bit disappointing. I have mentioned on here a few times that I have considered bailing out on a couple of workouts, which I have never done before, but managed to struggle to the end. Today, I had the FTP Progression 5 x 7mins at FTP workout to do. This should have been reasonably hard but as my FTP was set back in June during the 4DP test and since then I have been really diligent with my training and sticking to 3:1 plans so I would not have thought it wouldn’t be too much of a problem. I struggled even to get through the first 7 minutes @ FTP, breathing really hard, HR up to my cTHR level and legs really burning but managed to get through the second. By the time I got to the third I just could not keep up the cadence, HR was rising and I had, had enough, physically and mentally which is unlike me. I even took a longer rest before the next 7 minute interval but within a minute of continuing I packed it in, legs felt like lead, I was out of breath and very annoyed that I had to stop but realised that there is no point in carrying on. I deleted the ride so it wouldn’t show anywhere or on Strava as I was so angry with myself. My legs never burn that much unless I really push it to the max. I have mentioned before that I feel worse after a rest day and yesterday was a rest day!! I feel ok off the bike with no apparent illness symptoms but have no energy on the bike once the effort levels kick up. I don’t “feel” overtrained and get plenty of rest as I am retired and please myself the rest of the day what I do or don’t do. How would you proceed with this? I have OPEN 60 scheduled for today, 3hr ENDURANCE tomorrow and the DEFENDER on Sunday, should I scrub the lot and have a complete rest off the bike or concentrate on doing some lower level easy/endurance rides for a while and kick it back up after a week or two. Many thanks

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May I ask have you been sick? When was your last medical examination? There are many issues that can mask or manifest as “fatigue”. And not “feeling” fatigue doesn’t mean your body isn’t tired.

You’re retired (good for you!) but don’t mention age. We’ve talked on here a lot about rest/recovery, 3:1 vs 2:1 etc., just know that as we age recovery becomes more and more important and harder to shortcut.

I’m mid-50’s and soon-to-be retired, and I’ve come around to the 2:1’s almost exclusively in my training. Just find the fatigue builds too much in the 3:1.

You mentioned Strava? If you’re diligent in your logging, what does Strava show for your fatigue levels? (Plus doesn’t help to delete workouts that went south, though I get it, believe me!)

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Hi Thanks for the prompt reply, just what I needed. No not been sick, actually never get sick, maybe once a year with a bad cold etc but that’s about it, Years of working outside in all weathers has made me immune to lots of stuff I think. I am 69 years old, on no medication and have been training properly with SYSTM since about May this year and before that for about a year just doing my own thing on a Dumb trainer. Joined a cycling club this year and have done a couple of TT’s (10’s) on my road bike with what I feel were pretty good results, beating a few a lot younger than me who have cycled for years! This is what I am training for next year, not interested in long rides but would like to get better at say 10 and 25 mile TT’s. My current FTP at 61 kg’s is 3.49 watts per kilo from my June 4DP test. I think I have a bit of a obsessive personality as going down to a 2:1 program would seem to me like I have failed and that the any fitness gains would be too slow in coming. I have worked hard to get my FTP up to that level and worried if I hold back my fitness will decline. I must admit I am an all or nothing person and will get worried that if reduce the training I won’t improve and then just give up as what’s the point. I know it is recommended that older athletes should consider the 2:1 plan but mentally I will find it hard to do. As for Strava I just use the basic free version to record my rides and thats about it but I do use intervals.icu.com but still trying to get my head around that, so much data. cheers for coming back to me


Hey @ozmadman ,
Sorry to hear about your training issues. @CPT_A raises some good questions and valid points.
If this is all recent, you can come out of it sooner rather than later. Scrub the next three days training plan and rest/or do easy recovery rides. You definitely want to rule out any underlying medical issues. Also, you’re putting a lot of pressure on yourself. The combination of the mental and physical stress is putting you on a path to a downward spiral (pun intended). It’s hard to coach yourself out of this type of funk. Nip this in the bud. Talk to someone (doc, coach,significant other) to gain some perspective. It’s all about finding the right balance for you. You may want to get away from structured training for awhile and just enjoy your training/exercise. Also the MTP is an excellent tool.



Thanks Spencer, for your input into my issue and I will take on board all of your suggestions. You suggesting scrubbing the next 3 days plan for rest/recovery has come as a welcome idea because at the moment facing tomorrows “3hr endurance” and Sundays “defender” fills me with dread TBH. I may just get on the bike later and do a easy recovery session as my legs are still aching from this mornings failed effort. Will see how it goes but going to the doc’s (almost impossible to get an appointment over here anyway) to say “I feel fine but just cannot manage my HiiT interval sessions” wont’ go down too well. They are just GP’s and will probably just say, you shouldn’t be doing that, you are too old! ha ha. Anyway, next 3 days easy or nothing then I will take it from there, cheers


It’s not just older athletes and the way to approach it, mentally, is that the 1 is also a “training” week. Rest is training in so much as it is the time where you allow your body to adapt to what you’ve “taught” it.

Imagine having a class room full of children, you divide it into two halves. Half of the class you talk to about a subject for 7 hours straight, the other half of the class you teach only the important parts of the course and no chaff, you teach for twenty minutes and take a ten minute break, 20/10 for three hours, then let them have an hour off, then do the same again for another three hours.
At the end of the day you get both groups and give them a quiz.
Which group do you think performs better? The group who have only covered the important information, in blocks and been given time to let it sink in, or the group who are exhausted and have been spoken at for seven hours straight, including loads of filler material which is irrelevant and had no time to sit on a single bit of information before the next bit came?

Rest isn’t about “I can’t cope with another hard week yet”, it’s “I’ve shown my body the right impulse, I’m letting that settle and then onwards”.
It’s not so much that 2:1 might be a way of you managing fatigue, for some people it will accelerate progress.


Yeah @ozmadman, this screams overtraining to me. I’m not a doctor, I’m not a coach, and @Coach.Spencer.R puts it more succinctly than me, but please do consider these responses in addressing your concerns.

For a 69 year old, looking at your numbers/wattage, you’re objectively doing very well. I’m guessing you’re running into a couple of things:

  1. initial gains with any fitness program will always be much better and faster for anyone, at any age. But that level of improvement is not sustainable for a number of reasons - physiology, age, and physical adaptation all among them.

  2. as a mid-50’s, type-A, tip of the spear kind of guy I totally get where you’re coming from, but heed well the comments on mindset. Your mindset at present - the ‘all or nothing’ as you describe it - will run you into the ground and fail you. @Jon makes really good points about the “:1” thing. It’s to your credit and solid physical fitness base that you haven’t already cracked at 69, frankly. I’m amazed at your resiliency. The “I’m afraid my progress won’t come fast enough” thing is guaranteed for failure mentally, since your body will not be able to meet your expectation over the long term.

Best of luck to you, take rest and recovery seriously, and we’ll hopefully see you continuing to improve down the road.

Sorry, one p.s.: you gloss over “all the data” really quick, but for an involved, sustained fitness and training program, don’t underestimate the importance of data analysis. Consider whether or not paying out a little $$$ is worth it for a training program (be it Strava or whatever) that unlocks more features that could benefit you. TrainerRoad, Strava, and many others have useful tools for not a lot of cost. Specifically in your case, tools that would help you identify fatigue and overtraining over the long term to better manage your training efforts.


I think you said, @ozmadman, elsewhere that you use a Direto? I had one for a couple of years and whilst it was great, it had a habit of under reading when the temperatures when down, meaning I’d be working harder than I should be. I spotted this as I used my P1 pedals for power. It was a reason why I was frustrated by the lack of power matching in Suf. When your P2’s arrive that may also shed some light on it.

All that said, I’d still listen to the advice about and dial things back and down for a while. Have you considered taking a break from training the doing more of a base type block to mix your training up a bit and give you a break from all the HIIT type workouts?

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RGT :slight_smile:

As someone who naturally falls FAR more onto the Sufferfest side of virtual than RGT/Zwift, I have genuinely recently found that RGT rides are really good when feeling too burned out for SYSTM but too wound up to not ride at all. Having the freedom to just whack in a Magic Road (I have a collection of my favourite outdoor rides for when it’s too miserable/dark to actually go out on them) and ride at what feels like “today’s pace” is great.


I’m 69. I haven’t read all the posts here, but I have run into similar situations in a plan where a hard workout seemed impossible. What I found is I needed an additional day or two of recovery before doing that workout, at which point it became doable. I’d simply put out the rest of the plan by that additional day or two. So, the plans became longer by the days I added in for recovery. This is with 3:1 plans.


Just a few cents from me as this:

describes me to a T.

2 days off in a row and I start getting anxious that I’m losing fitness. Then I’ll go and bury myself to ‘make up’ for it and the death spiral starts. I’ve bailed on more training plans than I’ve finished because I always end up overdoing it (even just following the plan - external stressors effect your training and I’m terrible at balancing them). Rest really is the thing that keeps you going, and helps you get fitter.

I’m preaching not only as the converted but also as the guy who doesn’t stick to his own advice.

One thing I would say is that I’ve started to try and notice small changes that give me a hint on when I’ve overdone it or need a rest day. On occasion I’ll have a day when I’m ravenous - no amount of food stops it. In rather obvious hindsight that seems to be after a string of heavy sessions and my body is crying out for fuel, nutrients and rest (even if I’ve been fuelling well).

Similarly, the feeling that my legs are lead. I’ve seen a difference between the usual workout fatigue/pain and something that lingers more than I expect. Sometimes even the warm-up can bring it on and I can’t shake it. Again, my body is crying out for a bit of rest. It’s so easy to force yourself to push on, but odds are that ean easy spin, walk, stretch or massage is a much bebtter use of your time.

Maybe you have noticed similar (you mentioned the legs). So much of this stuff seems trial and error. The workouts and plan on Wahoo are fantastic, but are necessarily generic (after the 4DP and rider type adjustment). Even a personalised coach would need to get to know you and your body before getting it perfect. I’ll tell you what though - it’s fun learning about yourself (and sometimes painful).

The best advice I have (for myself as much as anyone) is that if the legs are lead, then a rest day will do you more good than pushing through a workout. Guaranteed that in 1 or 2 day’s time you’re in a better place and ready to go again. Driving yourself too far will put you in a hole that’s far harder to get out of, sandf that’s when you really start to lose the fitness.

Finally a personal bugbear - know that any of these online metrics that track fitness and fatigue (I’m looking at you Strava, Training Peaks, etc) actually don’t. They track training volume, which isn’t the same thing as fitness. Have a hard week then a day off and you’ll get stronger on that day off, but a volume based metric will tell you that your ‘fitness’ has dropped (all things being equal, they look at average load over a given numbert of days). This is dangerous as it puts your mindset towards ‘volume good, rest bad’. You need to be thinking that that fitness = training+recovery, (in the right balance, which is the tricky bit admittedly).

Plus what everyone else said!

Too long/don’t read: Rest is good. Give yourself a break sometimes!


Thank you. I should know this as my girlfriend was a teacher of year one and two children as has told me this many times in the past about attention span and learning, a great analogy… thanks. Especially like your reasoning regarding rest, that’s a good thing for me to keep in mind… cheers

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Yes I have a Direto and it is in the cold back room around 16 degrees C plus a cold fan blowing on it at full whack so that may be an issue?? Yes I am considering toning things down a bit to a more base Zone2 type stuff to give myself a bit of a break … cheers will also play around with the P2 pedals and see what that reveals


dont push you so hard,
you dont loose fitness when u don’t train for a few days,
do you have also some yoga sessions in your plan?
for myself I know when my body needs a rest, not only my legs in particular,
If i feel to tired for a session , i do a walk instead, or do a little run, just to be out and refresh myself, or setting another impulse to my mind and body
what are u goals?
do u have race the next weeks?

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Oh one more thing. The 3:1 plans are not necessarily ‘easier’, or have less effort, than the 2:1s.

If I look at the All Purpsoe Road plan for instance (as a TT rider type) the 2 plans give me the same workout time over the 12 weeks - in 2:1 there tends to be a bit more workout time, in the easy and hard weeks. In the past I compared cumalative TSS (usual caveat - it’s not a great measure for HIIT workouts, but it’s something) and that also seemed to come out equal across the plans.

So if you like beasting yourself, and then having a few easy days, 2:1 might even give you that more than the 3:1s do.


Everything you have said is me!!! anxious about loosing fitness taking time off… Always starving hungry and trying to keep a balance of eating and gaining weight (even though I have gained a bit I am always hungry)… legs like lead!! even on easy bits…and I have noticed on intervals.icu how quickly “my fitness” drops just having a day off cheers


I love food, so always being hungry helps that hobby, but it’s not good for weight gain is it?! Also expensive!

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do u have enough sleep, eat properly,
drink ,
a good big bowl of pasta and 5 scoop of icecream
is sometimes all the body needs :drooling_face:


That’s what I read…


I try to eat more on training days and less on others… My difficult area is in the evening, feet up watching the box and I tend to eat, even then I am trying to restrict myself to a few biscuits or something.

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