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Old 05-21-09, 10:17 PM   #1
benajah
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time off??

If I need to take some time off from riding because I am just feeling like I have not been giving myself enough recovery, dead legs, etc, how long can I take off before I start to lose fitness? 4 days, a week, two weeks?
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Old 05-21-09, 10:20 PM   #2
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Try three days.
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Old 05-21-09, 10:23 PM   #3
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You can probably go a couple of weeks without losing any real fitness. Endurance athletes usually taper their workouts dramatically for three weeks before an event so they are well-rested.
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Old 05-21-09, 11:14 PM   #4
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It's complicated because there are so many disparate elements that make up that term "fitness." In general I agree with 10 Wheels. If I take off more time than 3 days, I'm going to be slower. Except being slower isn't always a bad thing. It's impossible to continuously maintain the highest level of fitness. You burn out, get overtrained, whatever. That's where the concept of periodization comes from. If you're periodizing your workouts, you're constantly going up and down a little. You have these little peaks and then you back off from them, and then come back again and try for a slightly higher peak.

So there's that. Then there's this thing we call "base." I could probably take a month off and still have my base. Meaning I could go out and do a century, no big deal, but then I'd be pretty bad off for a week. And it wouldn't be a real fast century, either.

My rule of thumb is that it takes as many weeks to get it back as I take days off. So if I didn't work out for 4 days, it'd be a month before I regained another peak. A month off and it's 30 weeks. Maybe that overstates it a bit, and it's different for everyone, but it really does pay to keep at it on some level.

I often take 5 days completely off in the spring and again in midsummer. It's a refreshing break. Other times, I'll drop back to just doing a couple of 1/2 hour zone 1 rides per day for a few days. That works, too, without appreciably effecting fitness.

The Cougar posted above about tapering. Yes, but tapering is just that, a reduction in total workload and in time at high intensity. But it's not time off. Lance said he rode his bike 6 hours/day right up until 3 days before the Tour.

Morning Resting Heart Rate (MRHR) is a good clue. See what it is now, then take a couple days completely off, then ride an hour of zone 1 for a couple of days. Check it every morning. That should fix you right up, though. You should notice a drop in MRHR. Then go out and do a hard ride, even if your legs don't feel that great. If you feel good during the ride, cool. If not, repeat the above.
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Old 05-22-09, 09:53 AM   #5
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Thanks,
I know endurance and strength training are apples and oranges but years ago when I used to lift weights a lot, i mean a lot, I used to take about a full week off every two months and I would always be quite a bit stronger when I went back to the gym.
I have always been an endurance athlete as well, but have never approached training in a scientific manner, as it always seemed to take a lot of the fun out of it, but these past few years as I am getting older and its harder and harder to get in/stay in shape/improve I am trying to take a bit more methodological approach but I have a lot to learn. I am also from the old school of...just ride ride and ride more, who needs time off it will just make you weak, keep riding. That kind of thing
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Old 05-22-09, 11:15 AM   #6
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If you're looking for a more methodological approach, try Friel's Cyclist's Training Bible. I use the PC Coach software training plan, have for years, but I don't follow it exactly, just for a general idea of what to do. Quickest thing is to hire a coach. Takes years, really, to get good at self-coaching. You'll learn a lot from a coach, and very quickly.
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Old 05-22-09, 10:20 PM   #7
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Fitness is a combination of a lot of different things. Long term aerobic base, anaerobic power, etc.

Very generally, the longer it takes you to gain a certain kind of fitness, the longer it takes for you to lose it. So, if you take some time off, you will lose a little, but not a lot. And the part you will lose will come back pretty quickly.
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Old 05-22-09, 11:11 PM   #8
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Just out of curiosity, are you guys on the bike 7 days/week?
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Old 05-23-09, 01:04 PM   #9
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Just out of curiosity, are you guys on the bike 7 days/week?
Six.
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Old 05-24-09, 10:10 AM   #10
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I think the answer depends on what you might be doing instead of riding. If you plan to sit down, watch television and drink beer and eat massive amounts of pork rinds, well a few days could really do it.

If you decide to do things like run, swim, hike, lift weights instead of cycling whilst concentrating on a rigorously virtuous diet, well you might actually get fitter.

With normal semi sedantary activity and a reasonable diet, I would think you will start losing ground after a bit more than a week. That is assuming that you ride on a nearly daily basis and you are quite fit.
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Old 05-27-09, 08:55 PM   #11
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Just out of curiosity, are you guys on the bike 7 days/week?
So far, three days at most. I've started working now, so this might increase.
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Old 05-28-09, 09:40 AM   #12
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http://books.google.com/books?id=mv4...esult&resnum=1
This is for running, but I would think it would be similar for cycling. I find VDOT (performance-based VO2Max index) to be a pretty good measure of performance.
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