Recovery is a vital element of training, arguably as important as training stress. Commonly, riders face burnout without realizing that a small modification in their training schedule can be all that's needed to reinvigorate both their bodies and minds.
Often enough, riders can progress from plan to plan with little or no downtime, but if you find yourself lacking the necessary freshness, i.e. level of physiological and/or psychological recovery, certain steps can see to it that you're rested and ready to tackle your next training plan.
Here are a couple of reliable plan tweaks:
- The most obvious yet least often employed recovery approach is to spend time (usually 1-2 weeks) away from structured training. Simply ride your bike for the pleasure, rest when you're tired, ride when you feel like it, go as easy or as hard (in moderation) as you like, have fun.
- Revert to endurance training and ditch the intensity for 2-6 weeks. You can maintain the same schedule but keep all of your effort in the Tempo/Sweet Spot power range, i.e. 70-90% FTP.
Recovery weeks are typically part of most higher volume training plans every 3rd or 4th week, but since so many of our plans are lower volume plans in the 6-9 week range, scheduled recovery is better left up to each athlete.
Often enough, when riders are only on their bikes for 3-4 hours/week, full recovery weeks aren't necessary and can even hinder training progress.
But while you might not need a full de-load week, recovery is still a vital component of proper training. Consider a block of 2-3 days to simply ride easy and/or spend some time off the bike.
Timing Recovery Periods
During times when you're really thrashing yourself with intensity, try to recognize that there will come a point of diminishing training returns when you'll perhaps plateau or even backslide a bit indicating a need for a sustained period of reduced intensity.
If you pay attention to how you're feeling and how you're performing, whether or not you are meeting your workout goals, and that there's a clear level of consistent improvement and steady progression, you can then insert occasional recovery periods when you feel it's necessary.
If you return to training and you're still not up to the task, add another day. If you're chomping at the bit after a couple days of recovery, get back out there! Over time, you'll learn to better recognize when more rest is better than more training.