The Importance of a Well Timed Mid-Season Break

beach break

Oftentimes, the main emphasis of a training plan are the intervals, the volume, the progression towards a higher FTP, but the key to a sustainable training program are well timed periods of rest. Prescribed rest weeks are essential for recovering from a training block. Fitness and performance only improves after resting from intense work, not the work itself. Rest days during a training week are important, as are full weeks of rest, but oftentimes a macro period of rest mid-season can come with a lot of benefits. Macro rest blocks, especially after a block of racing, can help rejuvenate the body physically, add time to reflect and assess how the year is currently progressing, and help increase motivation for the second half of the year. 


Racing in SoCal starts super early, racing kicks off in late January and if you want, you can almost race every single weekend. Sprinkle in some days at the velodrome and a Quick N Dirty or two and you got yourself a packed race calendar. After all that intensity, racing starts to take a toll on you both and mentally. In most cases, the accumulation of training and racing without mid-season breaks year after year yields dangerous consequences - including the worst-case scenario - burn-out and injury. The Manhattan Beach Grand Prix (MBGP) usually signals the end of the Socal race season for the most part. Keeping the legs turning with endurance work and the occasional threshold session can be a good idea, but after MBGP, consider putting the bike away and trading out training sessions for lounging on the beach sessions. 


cyclist taking a nap


Not only is a mid season break great for recovering and rejuvenating the body, it can be a great addition to a training plan to continue to see progress in fitness down the road. Use the time off to evaluate how effective your training plan was for the spring block. The time off can be a great reset to reintroduce novel training stimulus, go back to a volume building phase or address recurring weaknesses. Full time cycling training can also produce imbalances within the body, use this reset to add in some yoga or light conditioning to help realign the body and diminish imbalances. Coming off a mid season break can be a great time to incorporate an abbreviated base-build phase to either target a late season race or fitness goal before coming into the off season. 


High intensity obviously comes with a high physical toll, but the mental toll can be just as great. The travel and long weekends that accompany racing can often be just as demanding as the racing itself. Taking a mid season break is meant to increase mental fortitude as well and build motivation. High motivation often goes hand in hand with physical freshness and as a coach, not only am I trying to time peaks in physical fitness but with motivation as well. Nothing makes you want to smash training and perform in racing more than hanging your bike up and taking some much needed R&R. 


If you haven’t taken a mid season break already, consider taking some time off once racing starts tapering down. Not only will your family thank you for it, but it will actually be beneficial for training, fitness and racing in the long run. Remember, training for cycling is a marathon, not a sprint. Think about the sustainability of your training program and go lay on the beach for a week!