Answer: Typically two weeks of recovery is recommended, but that timeframe could vary depending on your level of fatigue and motivation. Based on the amount of downtime you take, you can restart a Base or Build plan.
Decide How Much Downtime You Need
If you’ve just completed a Specialty plan and are focused now on maintaining fitness rather than peaking for an upcoming event, a two-week break is commonly recommended, but that’s not a hard-and-fast rule. For some riders, a week is all they need before they’re itching to get back in the saddle. For others, the opposite may be true; they may need substantially more time away to recoup from feelings of fatigue and/or the lack of motivation to train. Either way, it’s your choice to take either a short break (1 week) or a longer break (2 weeks or more).
Before confirming your break duration, keep your autonomic system in mind. With steady doses of HIT work it gets pretty wound up and needs a break from time to time. How often is influenced by the usual suspects: training load, training history, outside stressors, diet, age, etc.
Take the time to really evaluate the state you’re in upon completing the Speciality phase and don’t beat yourself up if you decide to take a more extended break than you initially had in mind. The goal is to come back from your period of recovery refreshed and motivated. Don’t shortchange yourself the opportunity to get back to this place.
Choose How You Want to Recover
Just because you’re entering a period of recovery, doesn’t mean you need to be off the bike. There are different forms of recovery. Your form of recovery can range from easy, unstructured riding to following something like Traditional Base I or II for a couple weeks. Of course you can also opt to be off the bike, but if it’s longer than 1-week break some form of aerobic exercise is suggested.
How to Train After Your Break
After your break, follow this rule of thumb: Restart the Base phase if you’ve taken a long break of more than a couple weeks; restart the Build phase if you’ve taken a short break of a couple weeks or less.
Given the occasional 1-2 weeks of Endurance work or form of downtime, you could (and many riders do) repeat Build phases over and over and see steady, fairly general improvement, but it keeps things more interesting to move from phase to phase and pick different specialties even if you don’t compete.
For more answers to your cycling training questions, listen to the Ask a Cycling Coach podcast presented by TrainerRoad. New episodes are released weekly.