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Hi Joe,

Your information is so consistently helpful that I have really become (I hope) a highly educated and capable self-coached athlete (masters athlete, 47.5 yrs, 5th yr cycling, 2nd racing). Thanks for sharing your wealth of knowledge.

I am preparing for my A race #2, 5 wks after A Race 1 (52 mi., 5500' climbing, 95F!), identical profile. I hope you can help though I realize how individual these ?s are. And I work only with HR and PRE, no power. I'm curious how to best manage my taper so my legs feel (and are) freshest before a long hilly road bike race. My taper program for Race 1 was a last hard hilly 40 mi race sim ride 10 days pre-race, 1 full rest day, 1 hr interval workout, 1 full rest day, 1.5 hr Z2 w/3 hill repeats (now 7 days out), then 3 days with short active recovery Z1 rides, then finally the daily 90sec intervals for 3 days right up to race day.

To date, these tapers leave me feeling mostly rested but during the 90 sec daily intervals the last days before the race, legs feel dead and heavy (which makes me anxious that race performance will be sub-par), I can't get to higher than Z3-4 HR (don't have pwer meter); my arms even feel tired. Is it possible to feel 'dead' but still have rested muscles? Strangely, I still perform pretty well on race day but really turn myself inside out (I guess we all do). I wonder whether during taper fatigue has fallen too precipitously with a net hit on form (thus fitness drop as well, if I understand correctly). I wonder with less rest whether my race could be even better. Do I go into a race with fitness so low that the race hits my system too hard (I often experience total physical and mental depletion bordering on depression post-race, lasting several days).

I am questioning whether to even do Race 2 because though I'm now recovered from Race 1 and prepped for Race 2, I did not bounce back like a 25-yr old. That said, I've been a fast responder to training challenges...my bike fitness is still improving yearly, my LT is a beat or 2 higher each year at peak race time, and my body is still morphing (building muscle, losing fat). I think my best performances are yet to come!

Thanks for any suggestions.

Joe Friel

Will--There are a lot of details here and I'm not sure I understood them all. Let me just say that if your legs feel tired when training then you are fatigued regardless of how you feel at other times of the day. You need rest. Will that cause you to lose excessive fitness? I can't say without knowing exactly what you have done which is best done graphically. You might start using TrainingPeaks.com as they now offer performance management charting for heart rate just as they've done for years with power. that would give you the opportunity to more closely monitor your race preparation.


Thanks, Joe. I agree - if I sound like a tired cyclist, my legs feel like a tired cyclist's... I must be a tired cyclist (quack)!

What's confused me is that after I have done my last race sim ride 10 days pre-race, with the legs feeling strong and springy, a couple days after that the springy tightness in the legs that I associate with good form starts to fade and is replaced with a heavy feeling nothing like that springy feeling. I have not been sure whether that is fatigue or whether it is just under-use that comes with less time on the bike. But as you say...it does sound like fatigue.

I have been using TPeaks since Dec 2009 and will check about the performance charting, which I'd not noted.

Thanks for your help.

Tom Smulders

Hi Joe,

What I can't find in your book (Cycling) is WHY you should train "short and hard" in the 2-week taper-period instead of "long and soft". Both trainings can get you the same TSS, so fitness will be affected the same. But a "long and soft" training needs less recovery time, giving you more energy to come into Form.

What am I missing?

Joe Friel

Tom S--Has to do with specificity. TSS tells us nothing about that. Only that you are generally fit. But doesn't say anything about fit for what. Your taper best includes some race-specific intensity. Several research studies (as described in Training Bibles) discuss this research.

Benjamin Jongewaard

I plan on doing a 1/2 Ironman for my first priority race. Then a full Ironman for my 2nd and last a priority race. After taking 1 week to recover, there will be 7 weeks left. I saw you like to start most athletes in Base 3 for at least 2 weeks if you have 6 weeks left. If I do 4 weeks of base 3, what would I do for the remaining 3 weeks? 1 build, 1 Peak and 1 Race? I'm just looking for a guidline that works for most of your athletes. Thanks! Ben J.

Joe Friel

Benjamin Jongewaard - That may work for you. I don't know as there are simply way too many variables to come up with an appropriate answer. The biggest issue is, how is your base fitness? Given that you will be doing an IM base 3 training is probably your best option.

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