I believe I heard from one of the TrainerRoad podcasts that it’s important to take a post-season break before starting up for the next season’s training. It makes sense that the body needs a chance to heal/recover, both physically and also mentally. However, I’m not sure what this break should look like…
A little background: I just finished my first year of structured training (weekly average of 200 to 350 TSS) and in the last 5 weeks, I have completed 2 GranFondos (Whistler and Levi’s) which has imposed a fair amount of training stress/fatigue. Levi’s GranFondo (103 miles) added around 500 TSS last weekend (will share my tips with this forum later). With my A and B “races” finished, I figure it’s a great time for a break before jumping into the Sweet-Spot base plan. Also, I have some constant muscle soreness in my glute / upper hamstring which I hope to resolve before the next training block.
For a post-season break, should I stay off the bike altogether (and put the extra time into stretching/yoga)? Or, is it beneficial to do 2 to 3 recovery rides a week (say 50% of FTP) with some stretching? How long should this post-season break be? Right now, I am thinking of 3 weeks. Can I still do an easier Saturday/Sunday endurance ride or am I better served with time off the bike? I am mindful of Coach @chad 's recent discussion on fitness loss (Ask a Cycling Coach 176) and his specific blog post on this topic.
I guess I am looking for more specific guidelines to maximize this downtime to help prepare my body for the next training block. It’s also possible that I am over-thinking it, but I tend to be analytical in nature .
Maybe treat it kind of like an extended taper period. Do a couple short sessions a week of short intense intervals to keep the fitness from dropping too far. Do stretches to help keep your position on the bike from slipping too much.
For me, a rest period is lot more for psychological rejuvenation than physical. Go for 100% fun rides, eat stuff you can’t during the season, stay up late, etc.
I find time off the bike really tough, but recognise that it does me good. Best advice I would have is to put in a ‘ready to train’ period which includes stretching / pilates style exercises particularly targeting your problem area. I doubt doing some really low intensity aerobic sessions- just for fun- would do any harm, but you could put in some alternative cross aerobic work to mix things up and get you mentally fresh. Joe Friel has some excellent advice on strength training and neuromuscular training for preparation period workouts in his training bible book.
Oh, I should have said. I am also new-ish to cycling - going into 4th season. I utterly failed to put in proper breaks (not long enough or poorly structured) between seasons and training periods for my first couple of years with what I can now see as poor consequences - getting ill, muscular aches and pains, performance and motivation dips. Getting your psychological approach to this time is key. Only once I realised and understood that rest and prep work made be faster did I actually start doing it. Prior to this I just kept getting on the bike too soon.
Thanks @Captain_Doughnutman and @jeremyedwards for your insights and the good reminder of the psychological rejuvenation aspect. No sense stressing about the recovery period and being anxious to start up the training too soon.
Thanks for sharing this Jeremy - this is what I am trying to avoid with taking a proper break. I will also consider the psychological approach during this rest period. I do have Joe Friel’s book, but haven’t read it yet, so I will take this opportunity to go through it.
We have some beautiful autumn days coming up this weekend, so I’ll look at heading outside for a fun, easy ride in the sunshine before winter starts up here on the west coast of Canada.