Words: Jenni King

With the summer season nearing its end and the colder months on their way, many of you will be thinking about taking a well-earned rest. While it is important to take a break from training and racing, for both physical and mental recuperation, it is also important to be mindful of how quickly fitness levels will drop during a period of little to no exercise. Most research shows that physiological performance declines quite rapidly on complete rest. This is largely due to lower stroke volume and cardiac output resulting in reduced maximal oxygen uptake (VO2). While it may well have taken weeks, if not months, to increase your lactate threshold; on complete rest it doesn’t take very long for it to return to baseline levels. Unfortunately the research suggests that there is a lot of truth in the belief that it takes twice as long to gain fitness as it does to lose it!

 


 
It’s not all bad news though. For those of you finishing a long, hard race season or summer of bulk riding and craving “break time”, this is still a highly important phase and it certainly shouldn’t be skipped. It is inevitable that some amount of detraining will occur and fitness levels will drop while you take a break. The key is not to let levels drop so much that you drift right back to base-line levels therefore undoing all of the hard work you put in during last year’s pre-season training. In this article I have outlined some pointers on how you can gain the most out of your off-season / winter training while feeling refreshed and ready to go when it comes time to start building the base miles again.