Peaked - A event over - felt like trash - now feel good - how long for a mid season break?

My A event this year was an unofficial festive 600 (ride 600km in 7 days). I started structured training in February with SSB LV. I then followed the short power build and century plan.

During the second half of the century plan, I started riding for more than 15 hours per week as I would add in more zone 2 to train for the festive 600. I felt powerful during the course of the festive 600 and I also added in some hard efforts to test my legs :slight_smile: I successfully completed the event, and I planned to take a 7-day mid-season break.

Day 1 was terrible as I started having some sore throat. Day 2 was the same as day 1, but I started feeling better on day 3 with almost no sickness. I felt physical, and mentally fresh on day 4, and today (day 5). My motivation levels are higher than what it was at the start of the specialty (century) phase, and I am eager to get back on the bike. I have read this article https://www.trainerroad.com/blog/training-plan-guide/#drop4, as coach Chad recommends 1-3 weeks time off from structured training.

Is a mid-season break supposed to be 7 days completely off the bike? I have taken 5 days off and my motivation levels are higher than before, but I would like your opinions. I plan on doing some unstructured riding for the next 2 weeks before I start building a next peak for a fake event that I created through the plan builder.

I seem to remember Amber mentioning something interesting during one of the Podcasts.

When she took a break and her motivation to train was peaking, she gave herself just one more day of rest. When she started to train, she knew that she was able and willing to train. I’m going to try this myself come October.

As you’ve mentioned, I’m also going to allow myself a week of easy, Z2 RPE spinning. It’ll be the start of winter here so my rides will be two - two and a half hours, max. I’m going to do this for a week. Just to stretch the legs after being off the bike for a week. Two weeks of Z2 during the typical British winter would drive me crazy.

1 Like

I have similar plans.

I am on holiday next week so 1 whole week off bike. Then 2-3 weeks unstructured outdoor fun riding. Then start my off season late September.

Hoping the combination of off bike and unstructured fun will leave me raring to go

I am ending my season this December and will be taking a 2-week off-season break. So just 3 months, and a few days of training before the off-season break. I feel like jumping on the bike as I am fortunate that I did not have any external life stressors. This implied that I was able to recover quickly. I would have taken a 7-week break if I had other life stressors.

I definitely will take a 2-week break at the end of this season as I have other life stressors.

Because of this I wouldn’t necessarily consider this a mid season break but a switch between two seasons. If you had raced all through May and June and then were looking to take a break before racing at the end of July and into August then I would consider this a ‘Mid-season Break’. But when your goals are 5-6 months apart then I would consider this a small off-season before getting back into it.

Having said that, I think 5 days off then 1-2 weeks of unstructured fun riding is a perfect off season break. I had been training through the spring to get ready for any summer racing (SPOILER ALERT: It never happened). Then I took a week where I never spent more than an hour on the bike around July 4th then a second week of just going out and riding for 1-2 hours at Z2ish with some sprints. Just having fun with not goal. Then I got back into it to aim for a MTB race in November.

Like you said, if you had a lot of external stresses, life and family stuff that you had been putting off to peak, tons of racing stress, etc. then I would take longer off the bike. Usually when you hear about pros taking a month off the bike you have to remember that they have traveled and raced something like 90 days in a year. Just keep in mind that this time off has to build up enough motivation to get through, not just the next block of training, but the next 4 months. So it would be better to ere on the side of longer. You will fair better at your event if you came in with a couple less training days under your belt than if your motivation crashes and burns a month out from your event.

1 Like

Makes sense. I wasn’t racing too often this early and mid-summer due to the races being cancelled. That being said, the local Wednesday night group ride and Saturday’s long endurance ride still went on. They were just group rides, and not intense enough to feel like a race.

1 Like

Without knowing you or your situation I think your plan for the break is solid. This is also going to be highly individual so you might get it wrong this year but then you can change something and fix it for next year. Change the length of the break, too much intensity during the break, add intensity too quick after, etc.

But it’s good to have a plan this time so you have something to iterate off of the next time you plan a break.

1 Like

I would normally say just listen to your body. That’s what I’ve always done and sometimes that means doing not much other than sleeping and stretching, sometimes means no riding but staying active in other ways, sometimes I end up riding pretty much every day.

Caveat though is that it’s only been 3 days since you felt “terrible with a sore throat”, so maybe worth playing it safe and doing the full 7 days. Unless you’re under 30 in which case your body probably does still have the ability to go from burnt out to fresh in 48 hours and I envy your youth!

1 Like

I am a 19-year-old male with an FTP of 311 W at 67-70 kgs during the season and 70-74 kgs during the offseason. I did notice that I easily recover between efforts, but I recognize that there is a huge difference between recovery and feeling fresh.

I guess I will err on the side of caution by taking 2 more days off the bike before I start doing some unstructured rides. I definitely don’t want to get sick while training.

1 Like

Yeah I think these breaks are almost more about mental freshness than they are about physical freshness. Being 19 YO, you are most likely physically recovered after a week off the bike (or light riding) unless you’ve dug yourself deep into a hole. But the mental freshness and renewed motivation to push through the next several months is what I would really be looking for.

Also, take the time to look back at the months of training leading up to your last event now that it has happened and maybe tweak some things that didn’t go quite right.

There seem to be some physical benefits. I saw Dylan Johnson’s videos on explaining how mid-season breaks help athletes push through the other half of the season as the hormone levels get back to normal. I have asked this question specifically to coach Chad on the ask a cycling coach podcast, and I hope that this gets answered.

Anecdotally speaking, I had a shoulder injury last year and had to take a week off to recover. After the week off, I was so motivated that I was able to stick to a plan. Before that, I was just doing some unstructured riding.

Good idea! Will check it out!

1 Like

Resumed riding yesterday and I did a 3 hour endurance ride today. If I go by RPE, power zone 2 still feels like zone 2, but any efforts above threshold seems harder than what it was before the break. However, I feel much fitter when compared to not having done any structured training. My heart rate is 5-6 bpm higher than what it was on average but overall, it did not make a huge difference.