So with the third and final grand tour well under way, I was watching the coverage and the old question came up of how do the professional cyclists manage to compete in these grand tours one after the other and expect to perform the answer is simple, with great difficulty. If history is to be believed in the entire history of grand tours only 39 riders up until 2014 have finished all three grand tours in one year and of those none have won all three in the same year. Only the true greats have even won all three in a career Jacques Anquetil, Felice Gimondi, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, Alberto Contador and Vincenzo Nibali. This is due to the physical toll that it must take to ride 1 Grand tour let alone 2 or 3.
In the elite sporting world the monitoring of fatigue levels to optimising training and performance is a massive area that everyone is trying perfect to gain an advantage over their competitors. As a very simplified statement the harder you can train/race and recover before the next training or racing bout the better, but over cook it and the consequences can be massive in terms of performance.

So what can we learn from the elite world for the everyday cyclist to gain the most out of there training. Unfortunately the majority of us can’t afford or have access to the types of sports scientists, sports medics and strength and conditioners that the professionals have (unless of course you come and visit us in Italy to experience the elite athlete support). This assortment of professionals will be looking at blood fatigue markers, monitor your health and well being and scrutinise ever last inch of your riding and training data.

The real question for us mere mortals is what can the everyday man do to make sure we aim to peak for the desired day and not end up to fatigued mess from the training to take part or to maximise potential.

Firstly my advice to all of our clients is to listen to your body you’re the best judge of how you feel and if you feel to tired to train then 9/10 you probably are. Now the caveat is that we all have those days where we’d rather stay in bed than get out and train in the wet and rain of the mid winter so how do we differ between being lazy and truly fatigued.

A good way to do this more objectively is to take your resting heart rate. This is done in the mornings before you get out of bed. Over a period of time you’ll begin to know what your normal resting heart rate is. From here if your resting heart rate is elevated in the morning the chance is that your either becoming ill or over fatigued and not recovering from your training load.
To take this one step further I like to use the analogy when writing training programmes that we only have so much training fuel that our body is able to use and how you use this fuel and how soon you have to fill up again depends on the types of training that your undertaking. No one is able to go 100% 7 days a week 365 days a year.
We can therefore monitor how much each training session is taking out of you by combining some objective and subjective data. This is based largely on the old TRIMP calculations (Training IMPulse). This dates back to 1975 where you would monitor your training by calculating a TRIMP score of every training session by simply multiplying the time of session by the average heart rate. The disadvantage of this is that it doesn’t consider intensity of sessions as there are multiple ways one could generate the same score.
Therefore we refine this further by calculating your heart rate into zones and work out which zone your average heart rate sits in before multiplying it by the time of the training session.
Now this all works very well to give an objective score but I feel that combining this with the subjective data can give a far more accurate idea of how an athlete is coping with a training volume. Therefore we combine this score with an RPE score. RPE (Rating of Perceived Exertion) is how hard you felt a training session was and is scored between 1-10 (1 being easy, 10 being the toughest thing you could have done, lying in a pool of drool on the floor is mandatory for a score of 10). We then take this score and add it into your already calculated TRIMP score to give us an over all value for that session. For example 60mins @ zone 3 with an RPE of 5 ((60 x 3) x 5 = 900)) this is then tracked throughout the training period to make sure that your not over training and recovering from session to session.

This is obviously a very brief glimpse into the world of fatigue management but a nice way to implement it into your own training weeks to stop you becoming over trained. And it goes without saying that if your concerned reguarding your health go and visit the relevant health professional.

Come and visit us at to see how we can help you obtain your goals and give you an unforgettable cycling experience in Tuscany.

Nathan Allwork     

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