How to start training again after a break
Here are some simple tips and tricks to help you get the pedals turning again after a pause in training.
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Whether you are in the middle of your off-season, taking an unplanned break due to injury, or trying to start cycling again after a little hiatus, you may be wondering, “how in the world do I even get started?”
The hardest leap you will take is going from nothing to something, but once the wheels get turning, progression seems easier to come by. The important part is just to start.
Here are some tips and tricks for how to start training again after a break:
One of the biggest mistakes that I see people make is starting too aggressively.
It’s an easy mistake to make because after a big break you are usually highly motivated and excited to do lots of big hours or hard workouts. The problem is, eventually the novelty fades and many athletes are left with fatigue, burnout, or even worse, injury.
As a general rule of thumb, whatever you think you should start with, dial it back another 10 percent. It’s very easy to increase, but once you’ve put in the volume you can’t undo that fatigue.
If you start small and everything is going well then you may be tempted to bump up the volume big time.
Resist the urge to increase too quickly. As you begin to build your base training, increase your weekly volume by only 10-12 percent per week. This will create a sustainable build while limiting the chances of over-use injury.
Listen to your body
When you’re just starting out it is very important to listen to your body.
If you push through pain or discomfort right away, you might be setting yourself up for a problem down the road.
If you experience pain or discomfort in the first couple weeks of training, it is time to dial the training back and assess the problem. Go get a bike fit or a body mechanics assessment from a physical therapist. You don’t want to push through those problems and be forced to address them later, right before your event.
Take a baseline test
Before you start making improvements, take a baseline test.
This test will be important to measure progress that comes from your training. It will also help you train intelligently and with the most precise metrics possible. You don’t want to be chasing numbers that are too hard for you or too easy and don’t challenge you.
The most typical test would be a 20-minute functional threshold power test where you hold your highest consistent power possible for the entire 20-minute period.
Establish realistic goals
Create goals that are within reach and only a couple of weeks or months away.
Even if your ultimate goal is gigantic and several years down the road, it’s very important to have stepping stones that will keep you motivated each day in training.
Set goals using the SMART principles: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
When you start a new routine the people in your life may need to adjust to it as well.
If you plan to train after work you may need to let your friends or family know that you will no longer be available for after-work activities on certain days. When you let people who care about you know your goals, it not only allows them to plan ahead, it also enables them to help keep you accountable.
Set yourself up for success
While there is never a perfect time to start training, there are some times that are better than others.
Start training in a time when your schedule is fairly standard for you so you can establish a bit of consistency and routine. In other words, it’s probably best to avoid starting up in the middle of a family vacation or another outlier type of event.
Don’t train before you start to train
Finally, don’t feel like you have to be at a certain level before you can officially start “training.”
All this mindset does is create more barriers to entry. When it comes to starting a training routine, come as you are and enjoy watching your improvement.