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Off-season Training and the Flu

off-season training and flu


Has this happened to you? After months of winter training, you’ve built a good base and you’re ready to take your training to the next level. Then, Bam! You get sidelined by a pesky winter bug. Many cyclists are routinely thrown off the saddle by a flu bug during off-season training. And now I’m one of them.

After spending the February long weekend flopped on the couch sniffling, drinking hot tea between naps, worrying about losing the fitness I had built and wishing I was out cross-country skiing—which is what I was supposed to have been doing—it occurred to me that there was one empowering thing I could do: plan how I was going to get back to my training after a three-week hiatus. Where would I start? Right back at the beginning? Yikes, I hope not. To help me out, I contacted world-class cyclist and certified coach Diane Stibbard. Here’s her advice. LS

Diane Stibbard: I’ve always advocated, whether a bug has taken you out of the saddle, or an injury, or whatever has happened to prevent you from consistent training, you MUST “start from where you are at”.  I know that sounds obvious, but it isn’t. Most people will try to do too much because they are anxious about getting back up to speed.

If someone has been off for three weeks and they were doing three rides a week on the trainer, then this is the plan I recommend. (Cyclists who train two or four times a week can modify this schedule, as shown below.)

Week One: 3 rides of 30 minutes, 40 minutes and 45 minutes –aerobic endurance riding, no intervals, no threshold riding.

Week Two: 3 rides of 45 minutes, 60 minutes, 70 minutes – again, aerobic endurance riding, with no intervals, no threshold riding.

Week Three: 3 rides of  70 minutes, 80 minutes, 90 minutes – During this week, keep the 90 minute ride aerobic endurance. In the other two rides, midway through the ride, throw in some 30-second spin-ups to kick-start your engine.

Week Four: Reduce the time of each ride, and start to introduce some more structured intensity into 2 out of the 3 rides. Do the first ride of 60 minutes with some intensity (short intervals of 1 minute). For the second ride of 70 minutes – include some short threshold riding – begin with roughly 10 minutes. Then for the third ride, 80 minutes of just aerobic endurance riding. All of the rides in week four should include 10-15 minutes of warming up, before increasing intensity.

How to modify the above plan if you’re riding two times a week:
Week one: take out the 45 minute ride
Week two: take out the 70 minute ride
Week three: take out the 90 minute ride
Week four: take out the 70 minute ride

How to modify the above plan if you’re riding four times a week:
Week one: add a 45 minute ride
Week two: add a 70 minute ride
Week three: add a 90 minute ride
Week four: add a 70 minute ride

By the end of the four-week plan you should be back to your pre-flu conditioning.

Diane Stibbard


As a world-class duathlete, Diane Stibbard brings a rare combination of expertise, motivation and knowledge to her coaching. She knows that the driving force to reach any goal comes from a deep desire within. As a trainer, she has a unique ability to help individuals embrace this desire to achieve their athletic potential.

Diane provides training programs for recreational and competitive cyclists, duathletes and triathletes, including nutritional counseling and personal training. To learn more, contact Diane at [email protected] or at LinkedIn.

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2 comments to Off-season Training and the Flu

  • Cynthia

    Thanks so much for this article.! I hope there can be an article about how to recover from minor bike injuries ie. falls or pulled muscles. I hope you can also discuss the role of the hormone relaxin in women and injury risk.

    I love this website!

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