Fatigue Resistance aka Getting Knackered

Dogtrousers

Kilometre nibbler
Over the past year, due to you-know-what, I've dropped my regular 100 mile rides, and not done any 200km audaxes. My rides have been shorter, hillier and I've been doing more on the turbo. I suspect that if I were to go out for a 200km ride now I'd have an extremely hard time of it towards the end, even if it was a flat route.

Recently @Ming the Merciless made a comment about "fatigue resistance", the ability to keep going. It got me thinking. I propose an alternate scientific term for this: getting knacked.

I just read this article in Cycling Weekly which is a description of metabolic pathways. There are tons of such articles, I think this is a particularly good and clear one. I also saw a GCN video recently which, in typical GCN style, conveyed the message (I paraphrase) "forget about long slow distance and base miles, doing high intensity intervals is a great way to train for long endurance rides".

The CW article, biochemically accurate it may be, describes the body as a metabolic machine and doesn't address the ratchet-like process of getting knackered. The longer you ride, the more knackeredness you inevitably accumulate. The GCN vid is no doubt correct in that if you do intervals you'll be in a much better position to ride a long way than if you don't. But it doesn't take into account that after a certain distance you will get knackered.

It's a one-way process. A gel won't un-knacker you. Nor will an isotonic hydration product. Even a bag of chips and a saveloy and a can of ginger beer will be unlikely to put a dent in it. The only way to recover from this to get off your bike, sit in a comfy chair and fall asleep in front of the telly.

I suspect that the only way to defer getting knackered over long rides is to do long rides. It could be that it's partly a mental thing. You just become habituated to riding in a state of knackeredness. That feeling of heavy legs, where you can't accelerate at all and every little incline needs the low gears.

Thoughts?
 

cougie uk

Über Member
It'd be interesting to see what training Pidcock did. He's used to one hour races but was up there at the end of Milan San Remo.
 

Twilkes

Guru
Intervals can raise your FTP/aerobic threshold/whatever else, which means it will be easier to ride at your cruising speed, meaning you should be able to ride for longer, so I understand the logic of that. I've noticed on all kinds of rides that it's mainly the hills that take it out of me - I've never managed to have an extended ride on just flat roads, but 1-2 hour training rides involving a lot of climbing, even hill repeats if necessary, make longer rides feel easier. If you can regularly exhaust yourself in a couple of hours you'll be better prepared to deal with or avoid it in a longer ride.

I've noticed that after about 8 hours a lot of the 'fire' goes out, but if I don't burn so much of that fire in the first part of the day then I can extend it for longer, and sometimes just relaxing and pedalling really easily for 10-15 minutes can be enough to get some oomph back and keep me going, and stopping for a similar length break can also do it. I managed a 24 hour ride and the limiting factor was not enough sleep in the 48 hours beforehand and insufficient fuelling, I was still pedalling fairly consistently at the end of it. Wasn't breaking many course records though. :smile:
 

BurningLegs

Veteran
My thoughts are that yes, long rides are tiring and you do get knackered. Regardless of level of fitness?

I also firmly believe in these two points:
  1. A rider will be able to ride further and/or faster with a higher level of aerobic fitness
  2. The most effective way of improving aerobic fitness for 90% of people is HIIT (for the 10% or less that can invest considerably more time then the most effective way to build fitness is base/build/specialise)
Anyone preparing for a long event with HIIT will need to taper beforehand, but as long as they do so I believe the hardest thing about their long event is much more likely to be related to position and comfort on the bike than fitness.
 

Sharky

Guru
Location
Kent
I suspect that the only way to defer getting knackered over long rides is to do long rides. It could be that it's partly a mental thing.
I would support this theory.
A few years ago, after a bit of a low point cycling wise, I did the london2brighton. For me that was actually longfield2london2brighton2longfield. About 130-140miles.

The first year, I got as far as Tunbridge Wells on the way back, before hitting the "wall" big time and had to call the OH Taxi.

The next 3 years, I did the whole way back. I put this down to my body knowing what to expect and better planning food wise.

Can't believe that this was 34 years ago, but in my mind, I think I could still do it.
 

lane

Veteran
I think intervals certainly have their place in preparing for long distance events - but also my experience I need to do some long training rides as well. Joe Friel says something along the lines that the nearer to an event you get the more training should replicate that event. Therefore assuming you are planning on doing longer rides a bit later in the year I recon that spending time in the winter on intensity (when it's not much fun doing long rides) then build up distance incrementally in the spring is a good plan.
 
My thoughts are that yes, long rides are tiring and you do get knackered. Regardless of level of fitness?

I also firmly believe in these two points:
  1. A rider will be able to ride further and/or faster with a higher level of aerobic fitness
  2. The most effective way of improving aerobic fitness for 90% of people is HIIT (for the 10% or less that can invest considerably more time then the most effective way to build fitness is base/build/specialise)
Anyone preparing for a long event with HIIT will need to taper beforehand, but as long as they do so I believe the hardest thing about their long event is much more likely to be related to position and comfort on the bike than fitness.
I think that's a big part of the picture.
Also:
- the main reason that people fail when jumping to a ride that is 4x their current distance is pacing. Longer ride, start slower. Even longer ride, start even slower. VERY simple principle, almost always ignored!
- the benefit of "miles" is adaptation. Every sport shows that repitition makes you more efficient; all we do on (long) rides is push pedal round in a circle. You can become more efficient with practice at any intensity level; but you can't do 10hours of HIIT per week, it makes more sense to do a pyramid of efforts.
- ... which is exactly what endurance coaching was saying decades before all the modern jargon - let alone the powermeter - was invented! :tongue:

And finally, a word from someone even older than me:
1617460797343.png
 

Ming the Merciless

There is no mercy
Location
Inside my skull
The best endurance riders mostly ride long distance in their training. They include intensity in their training, but no nearly as much as HIIT advocates would have you believe. As said up thread pyramid of intensities or polarised depending on your level. The main stay is still the long ride if you don’t want to stagnate.

587071
 

Salty seadog

Space Cadet...(3rd Class...)
Over the past year, due to you-know-what, I've dropped my regular 100 mile rides, and not done any 200km audaxes. My rides have been shorter, hillier and I've been doing more on the turbo. I suspect that if I were to go out for a 200km ride now I'd have an extremely hard time of it towards the end, even if it was a flat route.

Recently @Ming the Merciless made a comment about "fatigue resistance", the ability to keep going. It got me thinking. I propose an alternate scientific term for this: getting knacked.

I just read this article in Cycling Weekly which is a description of metabolic pathways. There are tons of such articles, I think this is a particularly good and clear one. I also saw a GCN video recently which, in typical GCN style, conveyed the message (I paraphrase) "forget about long slow distance and base miles, doing high intensity intervals is a great way to train for long endurance rides".

The CW article, biochemically accurate it may be, describes the body as a metabolic machine and doesn't address the ratchet-like process of getting knackered. The longer you ride, the more knackeredness you inevitably accumulate. The GCN vid is no doubt correct in that if you do intervals you'll be in a much better position to ride a long way than if you don't. But it doesn't take into account that after a certain distance you will get knackered.

It's a one-way process. A gel won't un-knacker you. Nor will an isotonic hydration product. Even a bag of chips and a saveloy and a can of ginger beer will be unlikely to put a dent in it. The only way to recover from this to get off your bike, sit in a comfy chair and fall asleep in front of the telly.

I suspect that the only way to defer getting knackered over long rides is to do long rides. It could be that it's partly a mental thing. You just become habituated to riding in a state of knackeredness. That feeling of heavy legs, where you can't accelerate at all and every little incline needs the low gears.

Thoughts?
I'm a bit annoyed that chips and savaloy can't help. Chris Hoy might not agree.

View: https://youtu.be/lnSxWOhAAyY
 

Tribansman

Über Member
Generally agree with your observations @Dogtrousers. For me the ability to ride long in relative comfort is less about cardio fitness, power output and whether I've got the legs, and more about the creeping hand, neck, back, shoulder, undercarriage aches/chafes that I only experience on 200km+ / 7+ hour rides. I guess this is part of what you mean by knackerdness?

Of course these aches may well be less likely to build and accumulate if I could do the long rides in a quicker time, but on the rare occasions I've managed to average 17mph+ on a century and sustained an average HR over 130, the added intensity seems to exacerbate the aches more than additional hours in the saddle.

It may be that my body's a bit broken - and I have an annoying ongoing battle with carpal tunnel - but I have had a couple of bike fits in recent years and am set up as well as I can be.

I think the hard-to-replicate benefit of long hours in the saddle is that they get your body used to being in that position for long periods, or at least help develop the ability (physical and mental) to endure hour after hour as pain/aches/discomfort start to build. A couple of years ago, i prepared for a 1200km audax by doing very long day rides...looking back, that gave me the mental resolve and confidence I needed, don't reckon there's any way I'd've completed it by instead focusing on increasing fitness and FTP via high intensity intervals.

I know when I've reached what I think you mean by knackerdness when my perception of effort goes off kilter - when it feels like I'm pushing or having to push really hard, but I'm actually not and can't get my heart rate above 110-115 (when fresh, this feeling would equate to a HR of 150+)
 
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