Off season, Building block plans and Taking a break- What do Sufferlandrians do?

Ahoy!

Looking for advise and experience from fellow Sufferlandrians!

I’ve just come off 2x 12 week structured plans and been suffering for some time now… but here I’m not looking so much for advise for me, but more your own experience of your own situation- if that’s ok!

Also… I’m not wanting to get into a whole base miles vs intensity debate @Coach.Mac.C wrote this article a few years back… makes sense to me Why you don’t need to do base training
But I am looking to understand what people do in their 'off 'season, and realise even that phrase can have negative connotations!

  1. Do you take a 1,2,3,4 weak break ? 2 for me- as much a mental switch off as physical
    2**. Do you follow one of the training plans or not?** I tend to freestyle it until Tour of Sufferlandria plan… but am considering using one of the new building block training plans Building block plans for 6-8 weeks come the end of September
  2. Anyone any experience yet of the building block training plans?
  3. Is there anything different you do in your ‘off season’? I try to focus in on nutrition and non cycling stuff than can get a little neglected in peak of the summer- you know like work, family, friends… :grin:
    All opinions welcome
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Might be worth looking at this thread :+1:t2:

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I do strength work & am doing the yoga ‘core’ plan. I’m also working on swim technique a lot.

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I was just thinking about the same thing. I have FF coming up this weekend. Planning on doing strength and yoga, but want to do some cycling, not sure if to do a build plan or jump on a 12 week plan. One of the deciding factors will be, do we have dates for the 2021 TOS yet?

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I did 2*12 week training plan with a couple of volcano climbing plans thrown in.It started to grind me down, it was time to take a break. It is so refreshing to have a few weeks of unstructured riding, head out to a general area, do a loop, which you make up as you go along, maybe cafe stop, and head home, no staring at power outputs or cadence targets, Do this for too long though, and you will get slower and you come back at a lower level. Good opportunity to target weakness a few times a week, target strength and yoga , relax and enjoy

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@Alistair_Brown thanks for pointing that one out. I did try and do a search on topics but didn’t see that one- looks to be v similar question/ topic area- sorry for the duplication. I particulaly liked the @Coach.Jeff.H suggestion “Would you benefit or find value in a longer (10-12 week) structured plan for the off-season that focuses on recovery and strength and mobility with just enough “hard” stuff in there to keep you on point?” in short YES!
@alchurch your approach looks absolutely spot on… that will be my plan for early October so thank you!

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What do you think about the timing of the ToS? I like to do it but didn’t this year because of preparation for an A race this year (& rescheduled for next) which isn’t just cycling. I’d quite like it moved to the end of the season or a multi sport version introduced. Or maybe a flexible one: it’d be a great thing for during lockdown.

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My approach this summer (since the whole year is now an off season for me) has been to sign up for a 12 week plan (Hilly GF with yoga and strength), do the yoga and strength as proscribed, but ride outside with my morning group during the week and with my other group on Saturdays, taking Sundays off. For me this year is about keeping mentally fit, recovering from small but chronic injuries, and staying connected. Sometimes my outside rides are hard, and sometimes we chat more than suffer. These rides remind me why I love the bike though, and they will get me through to when events start happening again. Once in a while, if it is raining, I’ll actually do what the plan calls for (don’t tell GvA I said that though)

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Hey @Sir.Jeff.Kerr,
Well played. This is an odd year to say the least and I believe that the number one priority that we should be focused on is mental and physical health. For most of us our racing and events have been eliminated. This makes sticking to a plan that was meant to get us to an event is hard to follow. And that is fine, if you are one of the folks that like to be “told” what to do and still want to have the fitness that comes with the highly structured training plan then by all means, follow it. But if you are finding hard to stick to the plan an are being pulled to do some longer less structured riding or exploring of roads less traveled, NOW is the time. With that said I recommend that you keep up with the strength and yoga that a plan offers even if the rides change. The other thing to keep in mind if you go “off-plan” is to take into account the recovery weeks. This is something that is often overlooked when left to our own devices. It is just as important to take recovery time when we are not following a plan as it is when we are. Even if there are less high intensity workouts.

So, I say let it roll and enjoy the freedom and use this as fuel for your soul!

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Hey, @Davidos, as far as the “off-season” and taking rest between plans goes it is highly dependent upon your overall type of riding and goals. For instance are you training for several events during a season (ie, racing or multiple gf’s or triathlons) or are you training for one big event? Generally speaking I would not recommend doing more that two 12 week plans back to back without a serious break. And even then I would be careful. For instance if you do a 12 week event plan finishing with a big GF or 100+ mile gravel ride you will likely want 2-3 weeks of “recovery” between one plan and another. Especially if you have another event coming up. That doesn’t mean full rest but definitely a reduced load.
On the other hand if you are doing a general plan (12weeks ending with a Full Frontal) you can pretty safely go right to the next 12 week plan as long as you are mentally ready. Both types of plans end with a taper but one ends with a FF and another with an event. As dreadful as FF can be, it will certainly be less of a load than a big GF. Basically you want to be ready (physically and mentally) to start your next plan.

On another note, we are in the process of adding some short "recovery and transition plans for just that purpose; To give you the right amount of recovery and get you ready for the next plan.

I hope this is helpful.

Kind regards,
Jeff

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@Sir.Jeff.Kerr that looks like a good model to follow- thanks for sharing that- good reminder to focus on why we ride in the first place!
@Coach.Jeff.H that’s very helpful indeed- really appreciate it. Way too easy to underestimate the need for recovery- both physical and mental. I’ll be putting that into practise, and look forward to checking out the recovery/ transition plans when they’re ready!

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@ Jeff
Short transition plans would definitely be cool, as would long ones. I’m not sure 12 weeks is long enough for a long duration A race. I’m principally thinking of an Ironman distance race: you’d have to be in good shape to only need 12 weeks. Even preceded with a four week Base plan I’d still want a bit more. In my experience I think 5 months is about right (~22 weeks).

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Coach Jeff, what do you do or recommend your athletes do during a true off-season, i.e., one that comes not after a 12 week plan but after months and months of training (and, in a different world, racing)?

I have been going since about February and i just today pulled the plug on the season. I wanted to finish out with a few more zwift races but my heart just wasn’t in it. I had been super busy with work and unable to train for a couple days, and i realized that instead of being frustrated i was glad, which was a good indication that it’s time to call it quits on structure, rest and get ready for next year.

For the months of November and December i will be staying with family and may not be able to bring my trainer and trainer bike. So i am thinking that the next two months I will do some running, some mountain biking (work on those skillz) and some strength training and yoga. Then on January 1st, i’ll hop back in and see where i’m at. I will self-program a base that switches between blocks of high intensity and low intensity, then about two months before my first race (hopefully May 1), I’ll hit a SUF plan to tune it up (I find i get fit very fast from slamming intervals, but there’s a timer taht starts ticking as soon as I do).

How would you structure this off-season? Just go based off of feel, or would you try to mix in hard days and easy days and long days, even though some of it will be cross-training?

And, is there any way to simulate the effect of lifting heavy when you don’t have a gym? Like maybe doing pistol squats or something?

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What’s this ‘off season’ y’all speak of?

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Devolikewhoa,

Your timing is impeccable! I highly recommend a reset. This comes in different forms for everyone. Just this week we are just releasing our Transition plans. Transition Up and Transition Down. The idea here is to help you move from either higher training demands to lower or visa versa in a gentle manner. Still having some structure to keep you from having to guess what to do But enough down time and recovery sessions to let you recharge your batteries.

For someone in your situation I find that an extended rest is definitely needed, but when you totally shut off the valve, it is really easy to go into a downward spiral of Couchlandrian tendencies. And once you are in the grips of the couch cushions it is really hard to get out.

Enter the Transition Down program… 6 weeks of low volume “training” that will keep you out of the death spiral. The focus in the first couple of weeks is to slow down enough to really recover, add gentle movement with yoga recovery sessions and get some movement back. Towards the middle of the program there are some sessions that have a little more juice to them but are short as well as some stability and strength sessions. Just enough to get things moving but not enough to make you tired. By the end you will emerge feeling eager “and ready” to hit it hard again.

The Transition Up plan is similar in nature but is more for folks who have had a really disrupted season or none at all. A gentle and controlled ramp up to prepare for some serious winter training.

I hope this is helpful and you are able to give it a go.

Cheers,
Jeff

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Devolikewhoa,

Your timing is impeccable! I highly recommend a reset. This comes in different forms for everyone. Just this week we are releasing our Transition plans. Transition Up and Transition Down. The idea here is to help you move from either higher training demands to lower or visa versa in a gentle manner. Still having some structure to keep you from having to guess what to do But enough down time and recovery sessions to let you recharge your batteries.

For someone in your situation I find that an extended rest is definitely needed, but when you totally shut off the valve, it is really easy to go into a downward spiral of Couchlandrian tendencies. And once you are in the grips of the couch cushions it is really hard to get out.

Enter the Transition Down program… 6 weeks of low volume “training” that will keep you out of the death spiral. The focus in the first couple of weeks is to slow down enough to really recover, add gentle movement with yoga recovery sessions and get some movement back. Towards the middle of the program there are some sessions that have a little more juice to them but are short as well as some stability and strength sessions. Just enough to get things moving but not enough to make you tired. By the end you will emerge feeling eager “and ready” to hit it hard again.

The Transition Up plan is similar in nature but is more for folks who have had a really disrupted season or none at all. A gentle and controlled ramp up to prepare for some serious winter training.

I hope this is helpful and you are able to give it a go.

Cheers,

Jeff

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cool. I’ll check 'em out when they come.

Do they include cross-training recommendations other than strength and yoga? Like going for a run or hitting the XC skis? Sometimes it’s nice to get off the trainer and get some sun (such as it is . . . )

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Hi, I look at the off season training plan and they are almost what I was looking for.
Like mention by others, having the possibility to replace a session for a outdoors one is great but we need to know what to focus on. This is true for all plans and specially on weekends.

The second things is the multi sport always include pool swimming but currently I have put swimming on hold … but want to keep running. I will need to guess what to do outdoor during weekends and how to fit running in the llan

Thanks for adding those plans. I will use them as guide line to recover from all the hard works done.

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Hi Everyone- thanks for chipping in on this one! The new transition training plans look really good and definitely fills that gap at the end of season before gearing up to go again- great thanks Sufferfest! Personally I’ve decided to go with a 4 week base training block plan with yoga and strength being the focus and i’ll be swapping out the weekend rides for some outdoor unplanned unstructured rides- at least that’s what I’m thinking for now… If I get a week or so in and not feeling it thenTransition Down looks spot on- thanks Jeff! thanks for all the tips so far from other sufferlandrians!

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The other thing that would be cool is if you could layer plans on top of each other.

Like the wind down is exactly what i need in terms of keeping me accountable on yoga and mobility and keep me from overdoing it on bike/run/xc ski training. That’s a very good thing.

But i also want to push some strength training. I think that I will have enough energy to do both. It would be awesome to be able to add the wind down plan to the calendar, but then also add an intermediate or advanced strength plan on top of it.