Planning for off-season?

I feel like its generally suggested to at some point have a period of time off the bike or with reduced riding at least.
How to I figure out when to take this period and how long should it be? Have been using Trainer Road since May (haven’t missed a workout yet but will be at the Cottage and won’t be taking “time off” for 5 days and just riding outdoors without a PM).
At the end of September I have my 2nd A race of the season and last road race of the year, after that I have an endurance plan and then my AT plan ends.
Once I get on the other side of that A race I expect CX season will be announced and I intend to do 4 or 5 CX races in October and November. Following that, I won’t have any events as far as I’m aware (I’m in Canada) until an unsanctioned mixed surface race/ride in April that I would like to target as my spring A race and then like this season choose one XC race and one Road Race as A races as well (1 mid summer and 1 in the fall).

When should I take time off or reduce my time on the bike/TR? How long? Should it be one stretch or two shorter stretches?

Any suggestions for articles or videos that cover this? Searching past topics didn’t seem to come up with what I was looking for.

This is a little tough because everyone is different. Some key indicators for me that I need time off or that I need to dial back are:

  1. Increased, unexplainable anger;
  2. Decreased sex drive;
  3. Decreased motivation;
  4. Inability to go to sleep when tired, indicating an overwhelmed CNS;
  5. Decreased performance, as an example, an ever increasing heart rate overtime relative to power;
  6. Increased minor sicknesses etc.

The problem is that when you start to experience these symptoms, it’s a sign you’ve been overdoing it and left it too late. It becomes a fine art to try and catch it before it starts.

Perhaps take a few days to a week off and see how you feel. Try be conscious of you mental state, do you find yourself ‘chomping at the bit’ to get back on the bike etc.

Focusing on lifestyle can also help decrease your chances of burnout and increase recovery time. So: healthy eating; stretching; foam rolling; sleep quality etc.

I find that I can last a few weeks of heavy training before I need to ease off, up my fat intake a little, have more non-sleep deep rest protocols and then I can jump back on it. Overtime, you’ll hopefully develop and innate sense of where you are exactly in your training lifecycle and how long you have till you need to ease off.

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I think CJ hit some excellent points on when you have gone too far but I believe you might be asking “WHEN” and “HOW” much time do you take off. I will answer based on my scenario. Context I live in Kansas City. My last race will be with almost 100% September 10th I have kids in high school band and that takes up almost every weekend in September until the end of October. Yes I could do a race on October 22nd but probably won’t because for me the next four years will be challenging to do solid structured training in the fall.

If I do a race on the 22nd it will probably be a let’s see what I can do. So with losing Saturday’s to races and rides and having two nights a week committed to band I will be down to three or four days a week to train so low volume for comparison. I am planning on as of now doing my race on the 10th of September and then doing what I call fun rides/soul rides from the 11th of September until the 12th of October at that point starting on the 13th I will be completely off the bike until the 24th. After the 11th and until the 12th of October I will join weeknight group rides maybe meet up with some friends ride more with my wife just take about 4 weeks of completely unstructured riding to reconnect and get back to why I love riding. I might be doing a 250 mile trail ride here in Missouri called the Katy trail with some friends and do some bike packing. During those ten days off the bike I will still be active like hiking, golfing other stuff but I will not do any riding of any kind during that short ten days off.

The last band event is Saturday October 22nd I do a ten week strength and weight conditioning program that is extremely weight intensive to build muscle and strength back starting on Monday October 24th this will last until January 1st. During this ten week block I will do zone 2 rides only mostly on zwift and usually 60 to 90 minutes in length I might join a zwift group ride but it is extremely important to me I do not go over zone 2 in terms of effort during these 10 weeks because I believe it really helps with power efforts the rest of the season. Then it is Sweet Spot Base – Sustained Power Build --Sweet Spot Base – Sustained Power Build(First 6 weeks) – Specialty Phase(rolling road race) I usually have first A race toward end of May. I might do Unbound in 2023. I usually will do a race in March, one in April. I do Low volume once the weather gets nice and group rides start up but I usually have about 10 to 12 hours a week of riding during the quote unquote riding season of April to September/October. I hope this gives you in idea.

My stats
44 yrs old
Riding 3 yrs with last two yrs structured training
FTP 292 weight 174 lbs or 79.8 kilos


Think it’s quite an individual thing, personally I find 2 weeks with no structure and no intensity works pretty well for me. I usually end up still doing some form of exercise most days, certainly in the second week, but it’s all kept easy and fun and I only do it if I want to, certainly not forcing myself to do anything. Raced a couple of Ironmans in the past, the combination of the volume of training to prepare for an event like that and then the fatigue from the event itself meant that I typically did next to nothing that even resembled training for 2 weeks after.

I also find that a change in focus is the next best thing to a rest. So in your situation I’d probably just throw in a normal recovery week after your A race at end of September, then jump into the CX racing which will give you a mental refresh as something different and a different physical stimulus, then take a couple of weeks off/easy in December after CX racing is done. Which then gives you plenty of time to start base and build towards that April race.


Yeah at this point I’m hoping to not hit an overtrained state and be forced to take time off but rather take time off to give myself a bit of a recovery and improve my longterm outcomes. It sounds like most do this with a period of reduced intensity or by avoiding structured training for a week or two if I am understanding correctly.
If it matters, I started cycling July 2020, started trainer road and structured training this April 2022 and have a FTP of 210, 3.7 w/kg. 4 w/kg had been the initial goal but now hoping for a FTP of 240 and 4.2w/kg before next season.