Q&A: when to get back on it

I am 26 years old and have been road cycling seriously/competitively for five-six years. I cycle mainly for pleasure but take part in the odd time trial and road race. Through the summer for the last two years I have averaged about 300-400 miles per week.

However, recently I had a procedure to remove all four wisdom teeth under general anaesthetic. I had a bad reaction to the anaesthetic and picked up an infection, which has left me bedridden. I have been unable to even consider exercise for three weeks. Two days ago I attempted to do my own shopping which left me nauseous, dizzy and exhausted.

My doctor has reassured me that blood tests etc show no lasting damage, but as a cyclist, training is an obvious concern. I am about 6ft and prior to illness weighed in around 10st so quite lean. Do you have any advice on reintroducing cycling and regaining fitness?
Gavin Evans

Hi Gavin, It’s important to seek medical advice if you’re not recovering as well as expected. Once you can get through a normal day comfortably without any ill effects, I’d advise you to begin some gentle riding to rebuild your aerobic endurance.

Although this is traditionally achieved with a combination of high volume and low intensity, initially it will be more sensible to attempt some low intensity shorter rides before starting to build the volume.

Find a flattish route that can be used when you first start riding again. If that’s not possible then jump on a turbo-trainer. I would suggest something along these lines:

■ Wk 1: 2x20min zone 1
■ Wk 2: 2x45min zone 1-2
■ Wk 3: 3x60min zone 2
■ Wk 4: 3x90min zone2
■ Wk 5: 3x120min zone2
■ Wk 6: 3x120min zone 2-3 (inc 1 hilly ride)
■ Wk 7: Active recovery/rest week

British Cycling’s World Class Performance endurance training zones are given as: zone 1 = 60-65 per cent of maximum heart rate (MHR), zone 2 = 65-75 per cent MHR and zone 3 = 75-82 per cent MHR. Alternatively you could go by feel (perceived rate of exertion).

You should be able to increase the intensity until you are back at your three-four hilly rides per week. Do not try to do too much too soon, both with volume or intensity. If at any time you experience a recurrence of your symptoms then stop training and see your doctor.

Remember, recovery rides need to be very low intensity (under 60 per cent MHR) so you barely break a sweat, and under an hour (45 minutes is usually right).

Rob Mortlock is a Level 3 BC coach

This article was first published in the August 1 issue of Cycling Weekly. Read Cycling Weekly magazine on the day of release where ever you are in the world International digital edition, UK digital edition. And if you like us, rate us!