When life events, illness, and even injury get in the way of your training, Coach Chad Timmerman shares his advice to help you get back on track.


Adjusting your training plan following time off boils down to two things: How much time you’ve missed and what derailed your training to begin with.

How do I adjust my plan after less than 10 days off?

Athletes who miss seven, even 10 days of training can often resume training exactly where they left off in their training plan.

With that general rule aside, athletes will need to be mindful of which phase of the training process — Base, Build or Specialty — they’re in when deciding how to adjust their plan. The Build and Specialty phases of training often include more intensity than the Base phase, making it harder for athletes to resume training exactly where they left off before their break. Therefore, time off training in the Build or Specialty phase may require a reduction in one form or another: either a shorter version of your plan’s scheduled workout or maybe even cutting that workout short.

Note: Athletes can filter within the app, or use the Workout page online to find alternative workout versions or different types of workouts altogether. Shorter versions of workouts are indicated by the original workout name with a “-1” or “-2” after it.

Example

There may be an athlete following the Sweet Spot Base II training plan who had to pause training due to a week-long work trip. Since they were in their Base training phase and the hiatus was under 10 days long, they can pick up in their training plan right where they left off upon returning to training. If that same person was in their Build or Speciality phase of training before they took time off, however, they should evaluate how physically and/or mentally stressful their trip was, and what workouts they’ll be faced with upon return to make adjustments to their plan accordingly.

How do I adjust my plan after more than 10 days off?

Athletes who miss more than 10 days of training, or a couple weeks and beyond, should adjust their training plan to ease back into their training load.

When adjusting a training plan to ease back into training, athletes should include a transitional period. This transition can be accomplished by a progressive reintroduction of training stimulus. That may mean, instead of attempting the scheduled workout from the training plan, athletes do a workout that is more Aerobic-Endurance in nature, and then move into something like a Tempo or Sweet Spot workout before diving back into the higher intensity work. TrainerRoad athletes can easily search for specific types of workouts to supplement their plan using the Workouts Page and filters within the app.

The training phase athletes are in also determines how they will ease back into their plan following time off above 10 days. Missing some time in the Base training phase will be approached differently than time off in the Specialty training phase. Workouts in the Specialty phase tend to escalate quicker than they do in Base training, making the transitional period potentially longer.

Example

There may be an athlete following the 40k TT Specialty training plan who missed two weeks of training due to a vacation.

• If the athlete isn’t constrained by the timing of their event in relation to where they are in their training plan, they can start back at Week 1 of the Specialty plan. This applies to any training phase (e.g. Base, Build, and Specialty).

• If the athlete is constrained by the timing of their event in relation to where they are in their training plan, they can ease back into training by progressing their training load with workouts that are lower-intensity, followed by mildly more intense, and back into the normal workload prescribed by the plan. Athletes should progress their workload with low-to-moderate intensity alternative workouts until they feel capable of getting back into the high-intensity workouts prescribed by the plan.

How do I adjust my plan after an illness or injury?

Athletes who take time off from training due to an illness need to be sensible by listening to their body (and physician if applicable), and ease back into their training load.

When athletes consider how to get back into their training plan following a common illness, they need to consider that their bodies are still recovering from the illness itself. Adding undo training stimulus on top of that stress rarely pays off. So instead of jumping right back into the tough stuff, athletes can start with some lower intensity work, followed by a mildly more intense day (or few days), and then right back into the high-intensity work.

Example #1

There may be an athlete following the Sustained Power Build training plan who misses 1 week of workouts due to the flu. Following a period of low-to-moderate intensity workouts in the beginning of your return, athletes can feel comfortable resuming where they left off in their training plan.

Example #2

There may be an athlete following the Cross-Country Olympic Off-Road Specialty training plan who misses 2 weeks of training due to the flu. Willing the athlete has the time availability, they can adjust their training plan by jumping back to the beginning of the Specialty training plan. If that time availability is not the case, a transition period of low-to-moderate intensity workouts can be used to ease oneself back into where they should be in the plan.

How do I adjust my plan following time off due to life events?

Athletes who take time off from training due to one of life’s many non-cycling obligations can adjust their training plan to accommodate their race schedule, or any potential losses in fitness.

Upon a return to training following a vacation, work trip, or holiday hiatus, athletes often don’t consider just how stressful their time off was. Before deciding how to adjust their training plan following the life events that took them away from training, athletes should think back on just how restful that time off was. Then, after determining time availability in relation to their racing schedule, athletes can decide whether to jump in right where they left off, or skip forward to where they should be in their plan. That may mean athletes need to include a period where they can ease back into their abilities to handle where they should be in the training plan.

Example #1

There may be an athlete following the Olympic Distance Triathlon Specialty training plan who misses 1 week of workouts due to a work trip.

• If the athlete isn’t constrained by the timing of their event, they can simply jump in right where they left off. Depending on how physically stressful the trip was and what phase of training the athlete is in, they may need to complete 1-2 mildly less intense efforts before diving back in full-force.

• If the athlete is constrained by the timing of their event, they can skip the weeks of workouts they missed and pick up their training on the week they should be in their plan had they not missed any training This may also require some mildly less intense days to transition smoothly into being able to handle the scheduled workouts.

Example #2

There may be an athlete following the General Power Build training plan who misses two weeks of workouts due to a family vacation. Situations like these are more of a “when” than a “if”, and those in this boat can adjust their training plan to accommodate them by following similar guidelines.

• If the athlete isn’t constrained by the timing of their event, they can jump back in right where they left off by including a progressive transition of low-to-moderate intensity workouts to get back on track. If time is a real luxury, athletes can start from scratch at Week 1 instead of the week they left off from.

• If the athlete is constrained by the timing of their event, they can adjust their training plan by skipping the weeks of workouts they missed and continuing their plan on the week they should be at had they not missed any training. This will require a period of low-to-moderate intensity workouts to ease back into where they should be in the training plan.

Conclusion

Whether your time off the bike was due to an illness, injury, or happy life event like a vacation, Coach Chad’s advice will help get you back on track with your training.



Share this Post


Nick Kanwetz

Nick Kanwetz is a writer of all things cycling. Whether he's creating content, interviewing coaches or digging through studies, he's doing it all to make sure you become a faster cyclist and all around better athlete.

Train Smart, Get Fast.

Learn how to become a faster cyclist. Sign up now to receive six emails with free cycling advice from Chad Timmerman, a USA Level I certified cycling coach.