It’s not always possible to avoid detraining completely, so you should know how to safely jump back into cycling when your fitness levels are lower than usual. Let’s take a look at a few important things to speed up your journey getting back in shape without burning out.
Make new plans
Before you go for your first ride after an extended training break, it’s always good to re-evaluate the rest of the season. See if you can still do some racing and adjust your training plan accordingly. But stay realistic, you might have to spend a few weeks or even months building back your base endurance depending on how much you lost.
Start with the easy and fun
The best way to start training is to focus on having fun, not on going hard. Join a few group rides if you can or choose routes that are pleasant to ride for the first few weeks. This will ensure you’ll get positive feelings from your return to cycling and it will also help you start right away instead of waiting for the perfect time.
Listen to your body
As a general rule, plan to ride about 10% less than you think you should at first. Some cyclists will feel good after a longer break from training and can quickly ramp up to their previous training load. On the other hand, if you feel a bit too exhausted or experience that bad kind of injury pain, dial it back and go slower. Your body will let you know. Don’t rely on comparing yourself to other riders or even your past self.
Listening to your body doesn’t mean avoiding intervals, hill climbs, and all hard efforts. You don’t have to spend weeks purely in low-intensity just because you’re not back in shape. In fact, that’s not enough to get you there. Add a few brief sprints into your easy rides and maybe even one harder interval session a week to give your body a clear signal.
Keep safety in mind
If you were unable to ride outdoors for a long time, you should probably be extra vigilant on your initial rides. Check for weather conditions. Make sure you have the appropriate clothing and kit and ride safely.
Don’t chase race weight right away
It’s possible you put on some weight during time away from regular training. It’s important to remember that it’s ok. Your body will get back to your regular weight when you start eating and cycling as usual. Don’t go on a crazy diet while ramping up training. That’s a recipe for a burnout or injury. Keep in mind the first point. You have a new goal for the rest of the season, so there’s no rush.