Your fitness is increasing, and you are getting stronger and faster. You are also getting more fatigued.
As a coach, I rarely have to encourage athletes to get on their bike and ride. Most athletes who are motivated to seek out and pay for a coach are also motivated to train hard. More often than not, I have to encourage the athlete to train a little less and spend more time recovering. It’s true, the more and harder one rides, the stronger they will get, but only up to a point. If they don’t allow their body to recover, their hard work won’t get translated into increased fitness. In fact, it will work against them, and drive them into sustained fatigue, which can lead to over-training if not addressed.
I like to remind people that riding, what people consider training, actually breaks the body down. It creates injuries to the muscles that must heal. It’s the rest and recovery that allows this damage to heal. In the process, the healing results in increased fitness. Shortchanging the recovery process shortchanges your training. You need to balance the riding with the resting. In this regard, resting and recovery is an important component of training, as much as the working out. It will serve you well to remember that recovery is as important as riding for increased fitness, and is indeed part of training, as are proper attention to nutrition and hydration. Focusing only on riding will not address all aspects of fitness and training.
The training stress balance metric (TSB) is a way to monitor your fatigue and need for rest when training with power. As you workout longer and harder, your TSS will increase and your TSB will decrease. The lower the TSB value, the more accumulated fatigue you have. In order to get stronger and fitter, you must sustain fatigue and drive TSB into negative territory. But you can’t keep it there indefinitely as you pile on the miles. You need to ‘come up for air’ periodically and allow yourself to recover and get your TSB back above zero. Experiment with your own ability to tolerate fatigue by watching your TSB and discovering the point where you need to rest and recover before piling on more stress.
So as you attack this training and racing season, remember that recovery is just as important as training, and in fact is an equal part of training.