I'm overtrained. How much time off should I take? What should "off" look like?

It seems pretty clear that I am overtrained. I’ve got many of the symptoms that I see listed everywhere for overtraining syndrome, and mentioned in the podcast. Background - I haven’t taken a week off in 2 years, and have ridden over 1000 miles/month for the last 18 months. 13,000 miles last year and 10,000 so far this year - I commute by bike. Additionally, I started racing last year. I’m 39, Male. At my peak, I was 165 pounds with an ftp of 368 (according to TR Ramp test). I moved in May, and my commute went from 60 miles round trip to 90. Over time (unsurprisingly) my resting heart rate started to climb from the high 30s to around 50, and my HRV plummeted and is about 1/4 of what it was. I should have realized what was going on when I took a ramp test and got 300 watts…
Clearly I need to take time off. How much time makes sense? What should the time off look like? Can I lift/run/etc?

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There’s a book called Lore of Running which has a whole section on overtraining and recovering from overtraining. That might help you figure out something tailored to your situation. https://www.amazon.com/Lore-Running-4th-Timothy-Noakes/dp/0873229592

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This is a really interesting post and I am surprised @chad and others have not provided some guidance. Beyond the initial rest period I would think you will just end up in the same place if you continue with the current workload. With a 90 mile commute I suspect only doing this 2 or 3 times a week will be beneficial long term. Hopefully others with more knowledge will comment and help you out here.

Probably at least a month, but I don’t know. Some people need 3, and I’m not sure what the markers are that say you’re ready. You shouldn’t run either, lifting is questionable since its a different energy system but tbh I’d do nothing but rest. Go start a video game. Binge watch The Office.

FWIW, I don’t think your volume per se is the issue, but the lack of rest in the week. If you’re doing 5 90 miles days in a row that’s unsustainable.

I ended up taking six months off last year because I was over-training (more like under-recovering, while keeping volume and intensity way too high). I kept digging that hole and it was too late by the time I realised I needed a mental and physical break.

For context, I was only doing about 10-12 hours of outdoor rides per week but I have a really busy and stressful job and my sleep sucked. Recovery was just not there and the fatigue was affecting me off the bike too.

“How much time off” for me was dictated by when I felt like I actually wanted to train and ride my bike again. I ended up taking such a prolonged break because I had no motivation to return. Eventually, in March this year, that desire returned and I started riding again. Surprisingly, it didn’t take long for fitness to return and I’m now back to a similar level as before. I’m doing less volume this time and it’s more manageable alongside the rest of life’s stresses.

Can’t give any recommendations about the physiological requirements for a break, but I felt like I knew how long was enough. Recognising you need a break is a good start.

I don’t envy your position.

I’ve been in your exact position and the unfortunate answer (brace yourself) is going to be at least 2 months. If you’re going to be as hard-headed as I was you’ll try to sneak in very light workouts here and there trying to dabble in seeing if you’re recovered. However, what you’ll quickly find is that you’ll have moments of “sweet! I’m good to go” then try to kick up the intensity and you’ll completely fall on your face getting the symptoms of overtraining. @ambermalika mentioned this in her first podcast and I scoffed at the idea of needing 2 months for recovery… until it happened to me and sure enough… at least 2 months is what I needed. Here is a snippet of my Strava HR graph. I was overtrained (diagnosed) in Feb of this year. (see the fall)… in April-June I kept trying to find my stride… I should’ve just rested and I probably would’ve gotten in to working out full strength much faster.

Good luck and take your time!

Interesting. FWIW, I do sleep well. Really well, as it were. My RHR and HRV have returned to normal. Glad to be seeing these responses b/c I surely feel ready to ride again. I don’t plan on continuing my trend of 5 back-to-back 90 mile rides regardless of when I start back up. Thanks all for the insight. Sounds like despite how I feel I’m probably not ready to start even easing back in. (It’s only been a week fully off, with 2 weeks drastically reduced preceding the week fully off).

You reminded me that I did the same thing. RHR was on point or less than 4 of expectation. HRV kept saying: “You’re good to go! Go hard!”… But those are just tools that can never really paint the entire picture of where you’re at.

Be safe. Find things like Yin Yoga, etc to at least keep yourself moving without the over-exertion.

Thanks. Sound advice that I hope I’m not too stubborn to take!