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Good post - basic stuff but important. On a more general note but still related to this post, I'd be interested in some of your thoughts on novice vs experienced athletes. I'm struggling somewhere in between. I used to be in the experienced category but no longer have the time to train like that. I get frustrated with program planning because most of what's out there for my training availability assumes 'novice' and little or no background in sport..

Derek Alvarado

I've definitely noticed that after a hard or long day of training my body will feel better if I ride to work the next day (3 miles easy) than if I drive. The stiffness of the ancillary muscles subsides and general fatigue of the body mind lessens.

That said, I'm still discovering what constitutes a "hard" day. Lately I've been finding that I can train at a moderately hard level for several days (i.e. Tempo day, threshold day, tempo day, threshold day) for several days before needing rest. This goes along with some Performance Manager Chart case studies that you've posted in the past. When viewing those case studies it looked like fatigue was ramping up incredibly fast, faster than I could handle, but I've only been at this for 2 years. Perhaps now it's time to start pushing the envelope.

Could you share any methods or indicators you use to decide when you need a rest day?


Hi Joe,

I'm a competitive age grouper (sprint) and basing my training from the program in you book 'Your Best Triathlon'. I'm finding it a huge improvement on how I used to train. However, I'm not quite sure how to interpret the programs with respect to rest days; they seem to have a bold-faced excercise on every day, with additional optional recovery sets. Should I treat any of these days as recovery days or push through to the recovery week?


Hi Joe-

Great article and very timely. For the experienced athlete, setting intensity for active recovery is straightforward- 45-50% FTP. What about duration/TSS? Is 60 min/20-25 TSS appropriate?


Joe Friel

Matt--Sure. Just depends on the athlete and the situation.

Joe Friel

Nick--Use recovery days to recover. It's just that some people can handle more sass than others and still recover.

Joe Friel

Derek--When one should recover and by how much is a very individualized matter. It really comes down to when it feels like it's time. Search my blog for _Recovery on Demand_.


Joe: What are your thoughts in regard to HRV in determining easy days vs out right rest days? I've started using the application ithlete and it sure seems to track my need for rest days but I also find it frustrating. I'm 54 and seem to need more rest days for full recovery than I ever have!


Another important aspect about recovery that I learned from your book/blog is that by taking some recovery time prior to a hard workout allows you to work that much harder - in terms of intensity and/or duration - thus resulting in greater gains down the road. We all know athletes who carry a high training volume but who don't structure their training to have recovery days followed by specific, hard workouts, and so they don't make nearly the gains they might if they added more structure to all those weekly training hours.

Shannon - Healthiful Balance

Thank you for this! I think rest days are so important, too.

A link to this post will be in the HLB Newsletter. :)

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