How does your heart rate respond to changes in effort?
When you’re well rested, your heart rate should rise and fall quickly with changing levels of effort. There are no universal numbers to look out for. You have to keep an eye on this and learn what’s normal for you to be able to spot a problem. For example, a common consequence of fatigue is a suppressed heart rate. If you notice that you’re able to repeat an interval workout with the same power output and exertion but at a lower heart rate during the second workout, it could be a sign you need more rest.
How hard do accelerations feel?
When you’re fatigued, accelerations feel like a chore. You can get up to speed but it’s unpleasant and slow. When you’re rested, accelerations feel easy – so much so that you don’t even notice them. For example, when catching up to the rest of the group or when accelerating after a red light stop. If you feel like you don’t have that snap in your legs, if they feel heavy during accelerations early into a ride, that’s another sign you’re not properly rested.
Do you feel like going fast?
If you go out on a ride and even the thought of sprinting up the next hill or taking over a rider you see in front of you sounds hard, then you might be lacking rest. If it takes a lot of mental energy to commit to intensity intervals that your training schedule asks for, then that’s a similar story. A clear tell-tale sign that you’re well rested is when you get the feeling in your body that you want to go fast again.
Are you excited to train?
All of us amateurs train because we choose to and because we want to achieve something cool, not because it’s our job. And training is not always fun, there are days when we would all rather do something else. It’s quite normal to feel that sometimes. But when training feels like a chore and you have to force yourself to do it several times in a row, it might be time for a longer break.
Keep an eye on how you feel about cycling even off the bike, it’s an important piece of the recovery puzzle. When you’re feeling energized and creative and looking for things to do, you’re rested. If you find yourself taking a break to fully recover, keep an eye out for this feeling – it will tell you that it’s a good time to jump back into training.