Couple days fully off vs. week of light riding

In managing your TSB with a recovery week, are there differences in having a couple/few days completely off vs. a full week of regularly scheduled rides but at Z1/Z2? Assuming that either option gets your CTL/TSB to the same place.

Central nervous system takes fairly long to recover and in that regard, it doesn’t really matter whether you are taking days fully off or doing easy z1/2 riding. So if your CNS is cooked, you need to give it enough time to reset.

On the other hand, depleted glycogen stores will fill up faster if you don’t ride at all. Usually two or three days is enough (with adequate carbs) to fill your glycogen stores.

So it really comes down to why you have to take time off:

  • Did a long hard race / training ride and your legs are feeling empty? Couple of days off and maybe some easier sessions should do the trick.
  • Did a hard build block / race season? Resting heart rate is high but max heart rate is suppressed? Feeling lethargic and restless? Your CNS is probably fatigued and you need to take a bit longer break. Take a few days off / super easy and then ease back into training with z2 workouts. Don’t rush it and allow yourself to feel properly rested and ready to do harder training.

Hope this helps.


Very interesting, I wasn’t considering CNS recovery, but is kind of what I was thinking- that there would be deeper healing that needed to happen besides TSB rebalancing over a couple days.

I just did 3 months of base, coming off the couch after a long winter of doing absolutely nothing to about 95 CTL, ramp rate around 6-6.5, so, a pretty significant 3 months. Recoveries within the block definitely did their job, but tended to be shorter and I wasn’t always sure how far to take them. Your second bullet sounds like the plan for this one. Thanks!

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When I’m due a recovery week, I also need to account for the mental side of recovery, not just the physical… that is, personally, if I just did a hard training block, I need more than a couple of days to get excited about doing a run of hard efforts… I need to feel excited to get back on the bike, not just that my body is refreshed… a couple of days wouldn’t do it for me in that respect… I usually start itching to get back to riding after 5 days or so, so I lean more towards the Z1/Z2 for 5-7 days.