Question: You’ve written about making every fourth week a recovery week. My question is about recovery days. I don’t take days off the bike. Instead, I schedule recovery rides of 45 minutes several days each week along with three longer, intense sessions. But it’s hard to ride every day, even for a short time, because of my job and family. Sometimes I have to get up at 5 a.m. to fit in a ride. Will my fitness suffer if I take two days completely off each week? — Chris G.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies:
I’m a big fan of days off.
The general rule is to do whatever it takes to arrive at a “hard” training day with as much energy as possible so the training is truly taxing and useful. This often means not riding at all some days, especially as we age and recovery time lengthens.
There’s nothing wrong with short rides for recovery if you spin gently for 30-45 minutes. Kept easy to loosen your legs and mildly elevate circulation, these rides will make you ready for the strenuous training that actually promotes improvement.
But if it’s difficult to fit in short rides, you’re better off staying in the sack instead of getting up early and riding easy for 45 minutes.
Continuing to force those rides may compromise recovery in two ways — less sleep, and the tendency we all have to ride too hard or too long on easy days.
Remember that no training program should be set in stone. Each of us has different daily schedules, responsibilities, goals and capacities for recovery. Modify any training plan so it works for your unique situation.