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How being sick has improved my cycling.

My current "Fitness & Freshness" chart

Man, my past few blogs sure have been uninspired. That cold really kicked my butt for a few days, and I just haven’t felt much like writing. My sinuses continue to be the main issue, and that’s affected my sleep, which has affected my energy, which has affected pretty much everything I do. I’m still suffering from the cold, but it’s sort of leveled off now. I’m really hoping that by tomorrow I’ll be noticing some significant improvement.

The nice thing about getting a cold is that, based on historical data from 2003 forward, odds are good I won’t be sick again for at least a year or two.

I’ve kept my 2014 riding streak alive through this (it currently stands at 149 days), and a couple of this week’s rides were not very enjoyable. Yesterday’s ride, on which I purposely kept the intensity WAY down, actually felt harder than Tuesday’s ride. The reason for that is because on Tuesday’s ride, while not especially fast (50 kilometers in Zone 2/Endurance), contained just enough intensity to release some pain-killing endorphins. Yesterday’s 29 kilometer ride was ridden at a very relaxed Zone 1/Recovery pace, and was too laid back to trigger even a small endorphin rush. Blowing snot rockets every 100 meters so I could breathe didn’t add to my enjoyment of these rides, either.

Today I’ll be doing another fairly short and boring Zone 1 or Zone 2 ride.

The silver lining to these forced low-intensity rides is that my Fitness & Freshness scores have never looked better as a whole:

My current "Fitness & Freshness" chart

My current “Fitness & Freshness” chart


The dark grey line represents my Fitness* level over time. It’s currently at 75, which is down just slightly from my peak of 79 this past Saturday.

Of course Fitness comes at a cost, and that cost is Freshness. When my Fitness peaked over the weekend at 79, my Fatigue** (represented by the medium grey line) was quite high at 104. After just a few days of easy riding, my Fatigue score has dropped all the way down to 72.

The final line on the chart is Form*** (the light grey line), and this line is derived from the previous two scores.

As you can see, my Form has risen considerably since Saturday (from -25 to 4) The reason my Form has improved is simple: my Fitness has been maintained while reducing my Fatigue. Reducing Fatigue while maintaining Fitness comes from rest and recovery (easy rides, in my case).

Right now, at least according to my Fitness & Freshness chart, I’m “peaking”. My Form has never been higher, and this is because my Fitness is near my all-time high while my Fatigue is relatively low. I will be riding easy for at least two more days, so my Form score will likely continue to improve.

Being sick sucks, but I think I’ve made the most of a less than ideal situation. By next week I should be primed for some of my best riding yet.

*FITNESS: While fitness is a complicated concept, it can be simplified to just an accumulation of training. The Fitness Score is calculated using Training Load, to measure your daily training, and an impulse-response model to quantify its effect over time. This will intuitively capture the building up of fitness, as well as the loss of fitness during a break.

**FATIGUE: Conceptually, fatigue is easy to understand; it’s that tired feeling which limits your performance. We model it the same way as fitness, but on a shorter time scale. You’ll notice the score go up quickly after a couple hard days, but also go down quickly as you take a few days off.

***FORM: Being in form, or “peaking,” happens when one is very fit but not fatigued. Here we model this as the difference between your Fitness Score and your Fatigue Score.