A Much Needed (and real) Off-Season: How Long?

Hey all,
I recently began my off-season and I’m wondering how long it should be. I know the easy answer is either two weeks or until you feel ready. I listened to a few of the podcasts that cover it, most recently episode 234. However, I feel my situation is a bit unique.
I’ve been riding and racing for more than a decade and have a DEEP endurance foundation. My problem is that I do too much. Last year I took 3.5 weeks off, but hiked and ran almost every day (sometimes doing three 13 mile/6500 feet of elevation hikes per week). I have been doing this for the past five years. While it’s amazing (Utah hiking is divine), my off-seasons have been anything but off. Add in a very high volume year each year (with several 900-1100 TSS weeks) and I’m utterly cooked.
How long is enough time off in a situation like this? I’m wondering specifically from a physiological perspective, as I might feel good, but still require some sort of extra time? Is there something more that needs to happen than can happen in the usual two weeks, or is that still a good recommendation? I want to mention I don’t feel like I’ve reached that point where I’m so overtrained that it will take months to come back (genuine super-overtraining), but I’m more tired than just a normal season’s worth.
Thanks for all the wonderful info and help. Cheers.
–Bonn

I fail here as well. Frank Overton at FasCat in Boulder recommends 2 weeks for most joe’s and 3-4 weeks for pro athletes.

I feel the two week rule is something that has come down from the Pro world and has been applied to everyone else, so a lot of coaches / web articles have copied that and are now telling everyone that you must take that amount of time off.

Well, two weeks have worked well in the past, but I feel like that’s the minimum I should do this year given my fatigue levels. How long beyond that…not sure.

The extra time makes sense for pros, and possibly in my situation. But I’m curious what happens in the body after too much training and after one, two, and three or more weeks off. Thanks for the link, I will take a look at it.

Very individual, but if I was you this is how I’d lay out a 3-week off season.

Days 1-5: Total decompression, minimal activity outside of day-to-day needs (house work, etc)
Days 6-14: Weight-training, low-stress endurance activities, walks, easy hikes, etc
Days 14-21: Weight-training, easy bike rides (nothing intense or long, fun is the focus) endurance activities like hikes, cross-training, etc

After 21 days or ~3 weeks I’d evaluate my current state, see how motivated I feel and if everything checks out I’d start re-introducing longer endurance rides and some intensity in the way of tempo, and sweet spot workouts all while continuing a strength program.

Personally speaking, I had an unplanned off-season in February and March due to a hernia operation. I thought my season was screwed fitness-wise, but it turned out to be the strongest ever. It’s nice to hear you’re not afraid of a legit off season.

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I can not remember where this came from. It might actually be TR based…

Training Residuals:
o Aerobic Endurance – Establishment: 25-35 days; Residuals: 25-35 days
o Anaerobic Power – Establishment: 14-22 days; Residuals 14-22 days
o Muscle Endurance/Threshold – Establishment: 10-20 days; Residuals: 10-20 days
o Sprint Power – Establishment: 2-8 days; Residuals: 2-8 days
Declines in Aerobic Capacity:
o 1-7 days: negligible decrease
o 10-14 days: 6% decrease
o 14-30 days: 12% decrease
o 30-63 days: 19% decrease
o >63 days: 26% decrease

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Is it full off bike break a must-have? Is it one week enough? I finished a season month ago (~9k km) an just riding for “a soul” 3-4 times a week with no structure but with hard efforts. My plan is to start with mid volume SS base at 1st of Deceber! Do I need to add one or two weeks somewhere in November and how much I will gain from it! I don”t feel mental or body fatigue right now.

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@blind76 I absolutely do not want to touch the bike or do anything physical. That’s what got me into this deep state of fatigue is not respecting the off-season. For me, even three to four rides a week would be too much. Consider that my off seasons have been full of intense hiking for the past five years and it’s like I haven’t had a real off season for five years. I think you’ve got a great plan for yourself though, so keep it up and good luck!
@Landis
I’m pretty sure I remember a podcast where they talked about that but I couldn’t give you the number. I went back and listened to three or four different episodes where they talked about off seasons. Unfortunately, none of them really hit exactly on what I was looking for. The closest they got was for legit overtraining, and how that can take months or even years to get over. I’m not there, but I was nudging that level of fatigue. That’s why I’m wondering if there is something physiological that can or must happen for me, and how long that might take. Thanks for the hard numbers-I didn’t have those written down anywhere!