With the ride/race season in full swing and the excitement and anticipation of upcoming events and the challenges they pose in full focus, many of us can loose sight of a very important aspect of our continuing gains in fitness…rest. Active recovery and in some cases inactive recovery should be a part of your in season plan. Fitness gains occur during recovery or reduced volume periods. If you have developed a seasonal plan with a coach you no doubt have already built this component into your plan. If not, you may want to keep two general considerations in mind as you monitor and track your training and ride/race events throughout the summer.
Allow for a reduced volume week about every fourth week during the season and keep track of the number of hours you are logging in any fitness building activity on a weekly basis. Many of us keep track of our weekly mileage, average speed per ride, the mix of training sessions, document the relative terrain, was it an exceptionally hilly ride versus a fast mostly flat ride, how we felt etcetera, which is all important to monitor, but it is also important to track total number of exercise hours per week. If you’re still involved in off the bike strength training, all on bike training and even indoor cycling sessions should all be noted, it’s all training load and your body doesn’t know the difference.
A reduced volume week is just that, a week in which you don’t necessarily have to reduce the intensity of your training and the level of intensity for this week will be determined by where this week falls relative to an important event in your plan, but you should definitely reduce the total number of hours that week by 10% to as much as 20%. When you resume training in week five, pickup the weekly hour total from week three and continue to your build or peak protocol.
An inactive or off the bike recovery periods should also be a part of your in season plan. There will be periods when you just have to take a bit of break from everything fitness related to allow your body a period of complete rejuvenation. Sometimes a well-planned vacation can allow for this, if not, you must build in time for this period. Please don’t worry about loosing fitness gains if you are inactive for a 4 to 7 day period…you won’t! It takes at least two to three weeks of inactivity for a trained athlete to begin to perceive noticeable fitness losses, and recent studies have even indicated possibly longer durations.
So as you enjoy cycling through another season, remember to rest. If you don’t build these periods into your in season plan your fitness could actually stagnate or worse even begin to degrade.
Work Hard. Enjoy the Season. Remember to Rest.
Mark Bedel, Level 2 USA Cycling Coach, UpOn2Wheels Endurance Training 412.292.6070