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After Riding All Summer, Take Some Active Recovery Time

Ask a Pro — Diane Stibbard

Coach, Personal Trainer, and Two-Time Canadian Duathlete of the Year

Diane Stibbard - two-time dualthlete of the year
 

Question: “After riding all summer outside should I take time off, or is it ok to continue riding every day?”

Diane’s reply: 
Depending on where you live the outdoor riding season can last up to 6 months or longer, adding up to a lot of saddle time and wear and tear on the body. Many cyclists are afraid that if they take time off of the bike they may gain weight, and lose fitness and motivation. But regardless of the intensity of riding you do your body still needs rest days to recover and rebuild from the breakdown that occurs from riding daily or even 5 days a week. If you’ve been putting in a lot of miles all season long and have not been taking rest days, then you need to consider some down time to allow your body to recover.

Many cyclists don’t realize that they get stronger and faster when they take days off. When you ride you break down the body at a tissue and cellar level. Rest is when the tissues and cells regenerate. As your body goes through this regeneration process it becomes better able to handle harder riding and hence improvements in speed and endurance occur. But if you just keep riding and breaking down the body you usually end up overtraining and often injured or sick, which can have long term negative impacts on your body and health.

The cycling programs I put together for both competitive and recreational cyclists always include weekly rest days and after three weeks of riding an Active Recovery week. In this fourth week of riding, mileage is decreased anywhere from 10 – 20% (depending on the individual) while maintaining the intensity of the cycling. This allows the cyclist to maintain the gains from the previous three weeks of riding but also gives extra rest for recovery and regeneration. Once the cyclist is past the outdoor season I recommend a longer recovery period. That doesn’t mean doing nothing but rather doing other activities to allow the cycling muscles to recover. During this period of extended recovery time (2-4 weeks, depending on the cyclist) I recommend some easy spinning to keep the cycling muscle memory intact and adding other activities such as hiking, running, swimming, or yoga. Listed below is a sample of how to work rest days into your outdoor season and how to work it into your schedule after the outdoor season is over.

IN SEASON:
Week One – Week three
Day one: Ride – Intervals
Day two: Recovery ride – 30 minutes spinning at high cadence, in the small chain ring
Day three: Medium distance – moderate – high intensity
Day four: Off
Day five: Recovery ride – 30 minutes spinning at high cadence, in the small chain ring
Day six: Ride long endurance – moderate intensity
Day seven: Recovery ride – 30 minutes spinning at high cadence, in the small chain ring

Week Four: Active recovery
Day one: Reduce the total intervals time by 1- 20%
Day two: Off
Day three: Reduce the medium distance ride by 10 – 20%
Day four: OFF
Day five: Recovery ride – 30 minutes spinning at high cadence, in the small chain ring
Day six: Reduce the endurance ride by 20%
Day seven: Recovery ride – 30 minutes spinning at high cadence, in the small chain ring

POST OUTDOOR RIDING SEASON EXTENDED RECOVERY
Week One – Week two/three

Day one: Cross train
Day two: off
Day three: Recovery ride – 45 minutes spinning at high cadence, in the small chain ring
Day four: off
Day five: Cross train
Day six: Off
Day seven: Cross train

Week three and four if you did the above for 2 weeks, or week four if you did the above for three weeks
Day One: Recovery ride – 60 minutes spinning at high cadence, in the small chain ring
Day two: Cross train
Day three: off
Day four: Recovery ride – 45 minutes spinning at high cadence, in the small chain ring
Day five: Off
Day six: Cross train
Day seven: Off or Recovery ride – 60 minutes at high cadence, in the small chain ring

Remember the cross training can be anything other than cycling. Keep it fresh, mix it up, and have some fun doing something unstructured. The biggest thing to remember about rest and recovery is this is where you make all your gains, so you can come back stronger, faster and fitter.

Enjoy the remainder of the outdoor season, but remember the importance of rest and recovery days.

Training for a two-day cycling eventDiane provides training programs for recreational and competitive cyclists, duathletes and triathletes, including nutritional counseling and personal training. Does your company need a fitness consultant? Get in touch with Diane to discuss fitness seminars for corporations

You want personal training but don’t live near Diane? No problem. Diane does email and telephone consultations. To learn more, visit Diane’s website or contact her at
LinkedIn.

Check out Diane’s e-programs: Keeping Fit in the Off-Season and Training For a Two-Day Charity Event For the Time-Starved Cyclist.


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