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  1. #1
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    How to return from extended time off the bike

    I'm looking to see how people here get back into a schedule from time off. I took 3 months off the bike and went for my first brief ride yesterday. Starting next week, I get 4 weeks paid paternity leave (new rule, my company is very generous).

    I don't expect to do a bunch of intensity right away. The races I plan on doing this summer will be all Crits. Is it too ambitious to jump into a 10 hour week right away? Would you ease into it?

    These rides will be generally unstructured, at least in the beginning. Do you think there's a difference between riding every day for 1 to 2 hours, instead of 4 days a week, 2-3 hours a day?

  2. #2
    Senior Member hack's Avatar
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    What was your programming/intensity/duration/etc before taking time off the bike?

    Are you going to be able to keep on with the big weeks after your time off?

  3. #3
    **** that mattm's Avatar
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    Only read the headline, but my approach to this is slowly ramp it up.

    Not sure how else you could approach it really.
    cat 1.

    blog

  4. #4
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    1. During race season I was riding a few hours a week, maybe 4-6 hours, finishing mid-pack in Cat 4. I crashed at the end of the season so didn't ride much due to that and some life changes as well, so I didn't ride much in November/December before the time off.

    2. I don't expect big weeks to continue, maybe riding occasionally in the evenings, but mostly relegated to the weekend. I know this isn't a substitute, but I have a gym in the building and do occasional squats, dead lifts, and may do some rowing machine/aerobic work to maintain stamina.

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    Theodore Roosevelt's idol TheKillerPenguin's Avatar
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    I've come back from extended layoffs a few times, and have injured myself by starting way too quickly. One time in particular I ignored knee pain caused by coming into training too quickly, and I compensated for the pain by changing my form, and this change in form put more stress on my calves and gave me tendonitis in my achilles tendons, and then I ignored that because invincible 25 year old and developed a weird hip flexor issue on top of it. So I'd ride, then have to ice/heat my joints immediately afterward, and had serious discomfort issues walking. Then my knees gave up entirely and i was physically unable to pedal without extreme pain, which of course lead to another 6 weeks off, a visit to an orthopedist, and a diagnosis of arthritis in my left knee. At 25, I was diagnosed with arthritis.

    Don't be me.

    You can retain enough aerobic fitness through a layoff to be able to get back to training more quickly than your joints and tendons can really take, so I'd say that you should start with unstructured low volume for a couple of weeks at least to get your body used to the stuff you'll be doing to it, and then start testing the waters with intensity. Don't ignore joint pain and be diligent about stretching.
    Is trick from science!

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    Senior Member hack's Avatar
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    ^I think that is the most reasonable approach if he had time to keep riding after the 4 weeks.

    Sounds like after 4 weeks of available time, he'll have to taper off again. I'd think just getting out and riding unstructured and enjoying yourself and listening to your body would be best. Use that time to get comfortable riding again, maybe build up a small nugget of something resembling endurance, then buy a trainer and kill yourself on that instead of the rowing erg.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gramercy View Post
    I'm looking to see how people here get back into a schedule from time off. I took 3 months off the bike and went for my first brief ride yesterday. Starting next week, I get 4 weeks paid paternity leave (new rule, my company is very generous).

    I don't expect to do a bunch of intensity right away. The races I plan on doing this summer will be all Crits. Is it too ambitious to jump into a 10 hour week right away? Would you ease into it?

    These rides will be generally unstructured, at least in the beginning. Do you think there's a difference between riding every day for 1 to 2 hours, instead of 4 days a week, 2-3 hours a day?
    I'd do longer rides personally. For me there's a difference between the 1-2 hour rides and the 2-4 hour rides. Each have their benefits. The longer rides force you to go beyond the glycogen stored in your liver or whatever so you have to eat or be burning fat or whatever. Also the fatigue on those rides forces me to use different muscles, so I end up sore with muscles I forgot I had. Well I used to, now it doesn't happen as much. With 1 hour rides you can do weird stuff (bad form, bad position, bad pedaling, etc) and get away with it. 2 hour rides, not so much. 3-4 hour rides, not really at all. You want to be smoother and more fluid the longer you ride.

    One of my best years I did just 2 rides a week in the winter, sometimes a short 3rd one, but the 2 were super long (120 miles, all day for me). That might be a bit much but if you can do some 3 or 4 hour days that would be nice.

    On the other hand you're a new father. Other than riding for your sanity it may not be very important to get "super fit". Enjoy being a dad and enjoy riding the bike.

    Congrats.
    "...during the Lance years, being fit became the No. 1 thing. Totally the only thing. It’s a big part of what we do, but fitness is not the only thing. There’s skills, there’s tactics … there’s all kinds of stuff..." Tim Johnson

  8. #8
    Senior Member aaronmcd's Avatar
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    I second what TKP said about not ignoring joint pain. I'd probably be able to handle 10 hr weeks no problem, but everyone is different. Also 10 hour weeks are low for me. I'd personally do a lot of JRA and aim for high volume but back off if anything feels slightly off.

  9. #9
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    consistency is king.

    when our second child was born, he was in NICU for 3.5 months, then when he came home, was a collicky screaming meanie that required constant care (and I say that in the most loving of ways) so I didnt ride but a few times from July->November of that year - mostly it was to the hospital and back. I've been racing for a long-ish time, so had some muscle memory, but was very much out of shape.

    I essentially rode 5 days a week ez for about a month, then mostly increased volume with little increase in intensity for 3 months. the 5 days were pretty much something like an ez hr. on Mon, off on Tu, ez 1 to 1.25 hours on W/Th off F with a progressively longer ride on sat (start with 2.0 hours and increase about 15 minutes a week to 4 hours) and another 2-ish hour ride on Sun. I targeted avg. power of 170 watts (low L2 for me), didnt ride with others (mainly because I was too embarrassed about how tight my kit got but also because I wanted consistent effort riding not group style riding), and did stuff mainly small ring with a smooth steady spin.

    Your baseline is a little less than mine (not being condescending, but I think you're a cat 4/5 that is pretty new to the sport and has a history of riding like 4 to 6 hours/wk; so I'd recommend getting 5 days/week on the bike and build from .75 - 1.0 hrs./day weekdays with 2 hours on weekend days (if you're off work, just figure out which days work best for you) and target your typical 4 to 6 hours/wk at the beginning and increase incrementally as you gain fitness.

    I think if you jump right into 10 hrs. weeks, more than you have conditioned yourself to do, plus the additional stress of having a new life to take care of, you'll end up with every flu/cold that goes through the NY/NJ area and injure yourself.

    For perspective, I'm a cat 2 with sick fitness right now and I have only done a handful of 10 hour weeks over the past few years.

    congrats on the baby.

  10. #10
    Senior Member furiousferret's Avatar
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    I've done it a few times, and have to kind of do it now. The important thing is to not schedule any races. Scheduling a race creates a timeline which may push you too fast to where you need to be. Go off feel, be conservative and take extra time off if need be. Just forget you are a racer, until you have enough volume to train for races.

    Personally, I think 3 hours is a good sweet spot for rides and that volume helps, to an extent. At the end of the day though, training for 30-60 minute crit and easy 4-5 hour easy rides just don't give the bang for your buck.

  11. #11
    powered by Racer Ex gsteinb's Avatar
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    3 hours is a pretty high bar for a sweet spot.

  12. #12
    una carrera contrarreloj Matt2.8NJ's Avatar
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    Congrats on the baby. I'd echo the other posters and say just get out and ride when you can... Couple hours here and there and see what your body can handle.

    A trainer becomes super handy when you have kids... I've got 3 kids under 5 (not recommended, BTW for bike racing) and I now do 95% of my annual miles on it, mostly when the kids sleep.

  13. #13
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    I looked at my schedule out of curiosity. I'm missing some stuff from Strava as I wasn't uploading consistently until May, maybe 5? races/rides from March, 2 from April, about an hour each (I think one April race was 2 laps long so that ride was more like 5 minutes). In terms of child we had minor problems at the beginning, like Junior couldn't feed properly, so it was tough initially since he was basically starving for 2 weeks (almost zero weight gain for 2 weeks then after the doc told us that we had to do anything to get him to eat he gained something like 8 ounces in two days). We had to feed him with a dropper while we let him suck on our pinkie. He was on the cusp to avoid NICU - ICU for babies for those that don't know. 5 lbs 8oz birth, 5 lbs even when we left, APGAR was also low like 8 or 10 (he was basically blue), I think if we were below in any of them (5lbs 7oz was birth weight NICU number, 4 lbs 15 oz would have sent him to NICU, APGAR one lower = NICU) he'd have been put in the NICU.

    We had my mother in law helping for four weeks, she took care of everything house-related (food, laundry, chores) so that we could focus on Junior. I was promoting the Bethel Spring Series throughout (he was born the day before the second race of seven) and the Missus spent a night in the hospital the prior week (trying to induce her due to low fluid) so those were some additional drains to our lives. The Missus is a CPA so she had to work one solid week in April after her maternity leave. So overall a pretty uneventful first 8-10 weeks, I feel fortunate that our worries/dramas were so minor. I looked after Junior at work one week (got nothing done), Missus looked after him for a week after tax season (ditto), so I quit work 9 weeks after he was born to be at home with him, that is my current status.

    The tall lines are 2 hour rides. I'm pretty sure one of my days was a 15 minute ride. Red line is the birthday.
    "...during the Lance years, being fit became the No. 1 thing. Totally the only thing. It’s a big part of what we do, but fitness is not the only thing. There’s skills, there’s tactics … there’s all kinds of stuff..." Tim Johnson

  14. #14
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    Junior just turned 3 so now I'm looking through the first album on FB. Look at it (it's the first of his albums on my FB). I have a picture of him 4 minutes old, he looks almost dead. Then a few hours old and he's pink. The wrist band got so loose on him that it went flying off over his hand on day 2 when he flung his hands in the air (before being discharged from the hospital). This means the wrist band was so loos a 5 lbs kid could fling it over his hand/knuckles. That same wristband just fits on my thumb.

    He's still losing weight at this point, over 5 lbs, still at the hospital.
    "...during the Lance years, being fit became the No. 1 thing. Totally the only thing. It’s a big part of what we do, but fitness is not the only thing. There’s skills, there’s tactics … there’s all kinds of stuff..." Tim Johnson

  15. #15
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    ^like

  16. #16
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    Thanks for everyone's opinions, all are very much appreciated.

    CDR, just sent you a friend request on FB, I don't use it much but anyone can find pics of my kid on there. We're lucky that we have an easy child, 8lbs at birth, now at 10 weeks he's 14 pounds and essentially sleeping through the night. For now. So the wife won't care if I take some time for myself to ride. I really want to get some upgrade points this summer before committing to a nicer bike. Leaning to Supersix with 105 11 speed.

  17. #17
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    ^ We thought we had such a hard time, stressing about Junior not able to feed, etc, but we had friends with much worse. 2 1/2 lbs birth weight, emergency c-sections, etc. Now we realized that we were lucky. You too.
    "...during the Lance years, being fit became the No. 1 thing. Totally the only thing. It’s a big part of what we do, but fitness is not the only thing. There’s skills, there’s tactics … there’s all kinds of stuff..." Tim Johnson

  18. #18
    Senior Member shovelhd's Avatar
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    Congrats on your new addition.

    I took 26 years off the bike. Getting back on was a medical necessity as my hips, knees, and ankles were screaming from running on a treadmill. It took a while before I was able to do longer rides. Just take it easy, don't set any timelines, ride at early base intensity, get rest, and most importantly, listen to your body.

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