When should you stop a workout?
In this post, I'll talk about my feeling towards when a workout should be stopped and what you might want to consider doing when a ride isn't going to plan.
There are times when all athletes start a ride and they can tell that something isn't right. This could be at the very start of a ride, or it might only become apparent as you begin the main portion of a training session, like an interval set, for instance.
Common bad sensations include a dull ache in the legs, inability to pedal properly at a high cadence and excessive breathing for a given intensity. You may also feel excessive fatigue in other parts of the body too, like in the arms and shoulders, perhaps when trying to climb out of the saddle.
Using a combination of a power meter and a heart rate monitor will be the best way for you to qualify these feelings and make an objective call on whether you should continue with the planned workout, alter it somehow, or simply ride home and rest.
CANCELLING A WORKOUT
Consider cancelling a workout and heading home to rest if you start the ride off with any of the sensations talked about above. It's clear in this situation that you're carrying a great deal of fatigue over from a previous workout and that you require more recovery before training hard again. Even riding relatively easy will likely put extra stress on your body in this state, and compromise on what you actually need, which is high quality rest.
Understand that your training plan must be flexible and should be looked at subjectively and objectively.
MODIFYING A WORKOUT
Sometimes, you'll start off a ride or an interval set feeling normal, but struggle to maintain the intensity needed before you have reached the duration or the number of repetitions planned. In this case, it might be that the wattage number of the amount of repetitions you have set yourself is too much, and should be reconsidered.
Here, it would be wise to rethink and reduce these numbers, whilst still continuing to train.
However, if the duration, number of reps etc isn't out of the ordinary for you and has been achieved in the recent past, it might be that a little more recovery is needed and the ride might be better turned into a recovery spin, perhaps of 1-1.5 hours at Zone 1 for heart rate or power.
If you're self-coached and overseeing your own training, it's very important to be objective and look at how you're performing and progressing as if you were assessing someone else. Consider what you would advise someone else when you find yourself in a certain situation. In this example, if you had a rider telling you they were feeling very tired and lethargic, then it's almost certain that your advice to them would be to rest and recuperate. It's this same correct judgement that you must apply to yourself.