It’s early November and you finally start to see some adaptations take place in training. That sluggish cadence starts to become more fluid, you start to see a reduction in heart rate and your efficiency factor begins to rise. This is when you start to become optimistic about your off season. Those early October worries about your form are now a distant memory, you look to the future and that next training session.
Tuesday evening comes around, you are sat on the couch resting after just completing a quality indoor session. As you sit there you feel something in the back of your throat, it starts to feel a bit dry and you think to your self I’M GETTING A COLD! Panic sets in and you find yourself telling people the next day I think I’m getting a cold my throat is killing me.
Then all of sudden man flu is upon you and you feel like death.
You go home gutted and start thinking about the last 7 weeks of training. You start to create belief patterns that all the hard work will be undone and you will be back to square one, you actually go to the extent of openly saying this to people. Then all of a sudden through the repetition you create a belief. You believe you will go back to square one and you believe all those adaptations created over the last 7 weeks will vanish. Early October is no longer a distant memory, it’s now a current reality. You allow yourself to be pulled back and all optimism is out of the window. Some riders even go to the extent of saying “I think I’m going to change my early season goal now and move it forward a month”
If you resonate with any of the above STOP!
I see so many riders beat themselves up inside. They've just completed 7 weeks of consistency and that consistency is not celebrated.
Let me point out a few things.
1 - Over my last 6 years woking in the world of cycling I have never come across a rider who has completed every training session in the off season and stayed illness free.
Even in the professional world cyclist pick up the common cold and have to take time off the bike. One thing they don't do is worry that they will lose all the physiological gains from having a week off the bike.
2 - Insufficient training or just stopping training all together will result in a gradual loss of adaptations which have been gained over the winter. Areas such as V02max and blood volume can decrease 10-15 days after a rider stops training. This will continue to decrease the longer you take off the bike. Around about 6-8 weeks this level will then stabilise but what you will find is it's still at a higher level that most people who do not train.
3 - When a rider detrains they will usually experience an increased heart rate both at maximal, sub maximal and resting. This is natural and once you've activate the pathways again (5-7 days) things will be back to normal.
So you've had 7 days off the bike and your head is all over the show. You jump back on the bike and think ah crap my heart rate is 15 beats higher in my tempo range than it was two weeks ago. So more internal bullying goes on, you begin to convince yourself you've lost all your fitness (this is where my work comes in as a coach to keep my riders heads firmly on) So if you go back to point 3 this is a natural thing and actually a healthy thing so expect it to happen. Also tell yourself once I re activate the pathways it will be back to normal in a week. All that really happens after a week off the bike is glycogen levels begin to raise towards sedentary level. It's not really enough to cause fat tissues storage so don't worry about the extra calories as your cold, longer working hours etc will probably need the extra fuel. The raised heart rate and feeling blocked messes with a riders head but this is just a short term response.
If you currently find yourself in this situation relax. A week off the bike is not long enough for you to lose big chunks of fitness, yes you will experience an elevated heart rate but give it a week and you will be back in to your training and moving forward in to the future.