So I am gonna let you in on a little secret. It is in all of the literature but is the most overlooked (or flat out ignored) aspect of training to race at a high level. It is the recovery week. I can't figure why it's so hard to back off and let the body heal itself to come back stronger after a period of hard training. I can't tell you how many times I've heard some jackass proclaim on a group ride that they are just sitting on because they are in a recovery week or on a recovery ride. WRONG! Recovery rides are noodling along for 45-90 minutes on the small ring at 12 MPH. Hello? Did you catch my drift? Cruising along at 18 MPH is NOT a 12 MPH recovery pace.
Anyway, some programs do three weeks hard and one week easy, or two weeks hard and one week easy, or my favorite (especially in the off season), six weeks build with one week easy. What is the use of doing everything right on schedule for six weeks including all of the lifestyle sacrifices we make only to skip the one thing that will make you the fastest...RECOVERY??? Maybe we need to drop the term recovery and use supercompnsation in it's place. "I can't make the group hammerfest tonight because I am supercompensating." It sounds like you are really doing something special. And you are. You do a hard block of training and then you rest. While you are resting your body is coming back stronger than when you started the last block. It's the most basic law of progressive overload. Why interfere? You think your DNA is the exception to the rule? I think not.
So following are my guidelines for my own supercompensation periods...
1. Start by taking a day completely off. No work, no training, period.
2. Continue strength training (you are cross training right?), but only do two days on the current weight and repetition schedule, and only one set of each exercise. This is to keep those hard earned neural pathways turned on.
3. Pay strict adherence to a well balanced diet with a small but consistent calorie deficit. This is a weight maintenance week!
4. 7-10 hours of sleep every night. This is true in all training periods, year round, but is easy to ignore. So I'm reminding you again.
5. Do at least three days of easy spinning for 45-90 minutes at 12 MPH with some granny gear cadence drills of 6x1 minute at 120-140 RPM thrown in to keep those hard earned neural pathways turned on.
6. End the week with a power profile test and record your body measurements.
7. Learn a new skill or do some homework that will help you accomplish your goals for next year. I am learning how to use a computrainer to do MAP testing and torture my friends and clients.
Okay, off to bed I go. Toodle pip and cheerio. Ride fast and swerve!