Enough vs. not enough

In the short term I will say yes you can maintain high performance levels on reduced training efforts. As long as that was only for 2-3 months and appropriate racing and maintenance workouts were prescribed.

In the long term though, no. Detraining is inevitable and in as short a time as 3 weeks a significant loss in performance can be seen without appropriate training.

The time frame to noticeable detraining will differ with each aspect of performance (assuming no maintenance training);

    • Sprint racing (less than 2:00 minutes) > within days
      Middle distance racing (2:00-15:00 minutes) > 1-3 weeks
      Distance racing (15:00 minutes to 1:00 hour) > 1-4 weeks
      Long distance racing (1:00 to 4:00 hours) > 1-6 weeks
      Ultralong distance racing (4:00 or more hours) > 1-8 weeks
  • PSYCHOLOGY: varies widely (hours to years)
    BEHAVIOUR: long lasting (months to years)
    TACTICS: long lasting (years) but very subject to reduced effectiveness due to other loses
    TECHNIQUE: long lasting (years) but very subject reduced effectiveness due to other loses

Of course these are just general values, individual response will vary greatly from individual to individual. Usually those athletes with longer training bases will be able to maintain performance longer at reduced training efforts than those who are very new to the sport.

However, to return to full speed or improve each successive season will require as much effort as before, but will be dependent on how much detraining took place. Keep in mind that at very high levels of performance the return on training time is much lower than for new athletes.

    i.e. for the top athletes to improve by 1% may require years, while a novice may improve by 5% in sucessive seasons.

Alan Carlsson
Engineered Athlete Services


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