I am wearing a Whoop band that helps me monitor the daily strain (up to 21 max) and recovery that is based on my heart rate variability, sleep efficiency, resting heart rate etc. you can find more details here*
*I’m in no way sponsored by Whoop (sadly); I think it would be interesting to see how much strain the stages take on my body and how is my recovery looking.
First some context about me:
I’m a passionate hobby cyclist, an average Joe, with the last FTP measured at 211 (2.9 W/kg), a Pursuiter type (by the 4DP test). I say this because it might influence the strain on the different stage types. I am using Direto XR smart trainer and going for the nuclear version of the tour. I try to eat healthily, not snacking candies since the 1st of February. Additionally, I am doing meditation and trying to have as much sleep as possible to face the high stress I’ll put my body through in the next week.
Before the tour, I had unusual high recovery rates. In the week before the ToS, I followed the prep rides with tempering for the stages. I also did strength training, but the recovery rates were very high, almost always green. I even did a 4DP test on Thursday before the start of the tour. I also tried breathwork, which might cause elevated HRV and RHR (?).
And here you can support my efforts by donating to the DPF cause.
So let’s dive in with the first stages:
Day 1: Recovery 92%
Stage 1 strain 15.0
The rest of the 0.3 strain comes from other activities. As a rule of thumb, there is not much activity except the tour, as I have an office job and work from home. And I am too tired of doing anything else.
As I had elevated recovery rates the whole week before the tour, I was not surprised to wake up on Sunday morning with a 92% recovery. I thought to myself, “I am ready for this. Let’s keep it at least in the yellow for the next stages”. I felt pretty good during the Joy ride but suffered enough. I was doing surprisingly fine during the Cobbler*
Before the ToS, I experienced with the TrainerRoad where there is a lot of sweet spot training. I feared the Cobbler as I hate these training styles. Still, the low cadence takes out some of the heaviness from my cardiovascular system, and I do better than spinning for the same power.
I missed the more fun training rides of The sufferfest app and will keep here for now
And the impact of the ride would be seen on the following day…
Day 2: Recovery 61%
Stage 2 strain 13.9
Total day strain 14.4 with nothing special than going from the office to the kitchen and back, haha
Already the second day of the tour started with my recovery in the yellow. But not too bad, still over 60%. I felt relatively good, but during the ride, I really suffered. The longer (3 min) MAP parts of the Nine hammers really hit me hard, and especially the last minute of the ninth hammer finished me. I was mentally happy that I managed to finish it, but I felt totally exhausted after a shower and lunch. I tried to take a nap and did some breathwork, which helped me somewhat…
And then the next day…
Day 3: Recovery 49%
Stage 3 strain 13.4
At the time of writing, 0.3 additional strain from household activities…
Aaaand the downward trend is going a bit faster than expected. And worryingly so. Also, I could not get as much sleep as Whoop predicted I need for higher recovery rates.
Stage 3 was okay. I think my profile suits such a stage with high power outputs for a short time being something I can easily manage. The threshold and sweet spot intervals are okay as long as they are not longer than 15 minutes. I felt somewhat better than after stage 2, but later in the afternoon, I got the low energy feeling as the day before.
Now I really dread stage 4, especially Half, which is easy. The GOAT seems, again, something that I can manage as low cadence drills seem to fit me okay. I’m curious what will be my recovery tomorrow. Today I did meditation, breathwork and had Magnesium supplement.
I Will come back tomorrow or the next days with the updates, depending on my work schedule. But will update my progress with the recovery for all of the stages in the coming days.
Day 4: Recovery 49%
Stage 4a strain 9.5
Stage 4b strain 7.9
Yesterday I was in bed at 9 pm. And it showed. I had a long sleep and thus recovered better for today’s session. For the Half is Easy ride, I struggled more with coping with the smart trainer delays or errors from jumping quickly to high power and low power. I even went a bit back in the interval, feeling I didn’t do as much as needed. But my riding profile fits this kind of training style and did not struggle too much with it (while I still suffered).
G.O.A.T is one of my favourite training in The Sufferfest app. The music is great, the scenery exceptional and cultural input awesome. Also, low cadence at above and below threshold seems to suit me as I said before. I had a relatively low heart rate compared to the legs’ pain, which whoop can not translate into strain levels. (the same as in the case of weight lifting, and whoop explains on their website about interpreting data in this kind of exercises).
My total cycling strain was about 12, lower than the previous two days with 1-hour stages. But I am not getting fooled. Tomorrow is the new Norway stage. I’m looking forward to experience life in the pro peloton, but I am afraid of the profile. It looks like constant pressure with little to no space for recovery. So hopefully I can get some more sleep.
I think that by the end of the day I will have a strain around 13 with the other household chores I planned for today.
I will be back tomorrow with the effects of my sleep and the strain of Norway.
Day 5: Recovery 62%
Stage 5 strain 12
0.4 additional daily strain
Today I woked up very stiff. My shoulders and neck were very stiff because of the low cadence of the G.O.A.T, I think. I should have done a stress release yoga after yesterday’s session but didn’t have time because of the work. I went straight to a shoulder, neck and upper back yoga from Yoga15.com.
Although my recovery was similar to yesterday, I felt way more tired. But around the planned time for the stage, I felt okay and very curious about the Norway ride. I totally loved it and find it not too difficult with the exception of slightly longer efforts and high peaks. My total strain was 12, similar to the day before.
But I feel more tired and for recovery, I’m planning to log in more sleep and had a recovery protein shake after the ride.
Day 6: Recovery 53%
Stage 6a strain 11.5
Stage 6b strain 7.4
I think that whoop comes to a limitation here. My recovery is not great, but not disastrous considering the expectations. My heart rate is not reaching the levels I’m used ot for the same trainings and efforts. So Whoop would ocnsider less strain than I actualy felt I had.
Today, althougha long sleep, I felt very tired throughout the day. I did the stages still on nuclear and pushed over the suffering, but I was not in the mood at all. I think Norway also ruined the ‘normal’ stages for me.
Tomorrow I plan to sleep long and do the stage when I feel good during the day. two more hours of suffering…We can do it!
Day 7: Recovery 67%
Stage 6a strain 11.1
Stage 6b strain 12.8
Well, well, well… in the green on the last day
I think the Whoop has some limitations in this type of multi-day event. As the fatigue is accumulating, my HR levels are lower than normal. So Whoop thinks that I get less strain. Would be interesting to have this fatigue taking into account in the algorithm.
The defender is not suited for my cyclist profile and I was suffering especially on the two minutes MAP efforts. On the attacker, I did better as the efforts were shorter, even if the recoveries were as well shorter. Also knowing its the last one gives a mental kick to finish it hard. I remember doing attacker before and not standing up in the last sprints. But now I went up every time. Just to finish up the tour on a high.
Total tour strain
I think finally the tour was fairly balanced. In the image it looks like a nice curve, having lower strains in the middle and higher in the longer stages. In the end, I think this tour suited me quite well. I felt more exhausted at the end of the last tour. Then I did it get me through it and now, nuclear. But having finished a tour before also helps me mentally to get courageous that I can do it again.
I think monitoring strain and recovery throughout this week was a nice experience. And I will continue to check my recovery in the coming days…
Let me know what you think and what are your strategies for improving recovery.
Do you think I should dial down if I get in the red in the next days and can’t get out of it?
As a similar interesting read, Whoop monitored the strain and recovery of world tour cyclist during Tour of France. You can read more here.