Return to training after 12 month break

Hi, my names Jack. I am a triathlete from the UK. I have taken a year out to go travelling which has been amazing, but all good things come to an end right?!

We will be returning home in June, and I will have a CTL of approximately 0 haha!

A bit of background on me. I swam and ran competitively in my youth, and cycled road & MTB. So i have a bit of a background with my sports. A severe illness took me out of sports until 2018 when I started to ride my bike again and did my first triathlon. I was able to slowly build my fitness, and spent a considerable time building strength in the gym. Lockdown was good for me as I buried myself in turbo work, and built on that once lockdown over. I basically took my 2018 sprint tri time down 30 minutes to 49:53 in 2021, setting my best 20 minute power of 360w (@80kg).

My goal is to get back there - and “transcend my limits”. I want to be able to dominate my local tri races, be competitive at TT’s, and work towards representing GB.

My question to the forum is regarding how to make a start. I want to have the best chance, even if it were talking 3 years to get there. Starting in June is awkward because it’s obviously mid season and the Joe Friel / Training peaks periodisation would not really work for me (as it’s race - but base I need!). In podcast ep 121 the talk is about building the best engine and it’s something I’m really keen on. Jim Miller says for a junior the first year would just be base, alas at 27 junior I am not.
So the crux of the matter, I can happily commit to Zwift’s active off-season of 12 weeks 10 hours on the turbo, but that would be great in winter and not mid summer!
So I would like to know people’s thoughts - go for a base plan in June, then repeat again over winter before building again, or maybe some kind of threshold improvement plan June - winter then work on base conditioning over winter?
I’ll have between 10-20 hours a week to train.

Kind regards,


I get that you are 27 but I think you might just start with 30 minutes a day of easy endurance and go from there. Ten hours a week from the get go is a lot IMO.

I just came back from 8 months off the bike though I did a little running, rowing, and lifting. It took about 10 days just not to have a sore butt and two weeks in, I was sore from an hour of zone 2 a few days in a row. After a month of riding, I tried a VO2max workout and shattered myself for 5 days (see sore legs topic). :slight_smile:

At this stage, I feel like my fitness is deceptive. My legs feel good on the bike and it feels like I can push some ok watts but recovery is taking extra long.

Jack, I think that patience is your friend here, along with really listening to your body. I have had a few forced breaks over the past 40 years. Rushing your return is liable to lead to injury and/or burnout. Not only do you need to recondition muscles and joints, but your cardiovascular system needs time to adapt through rest. Triathletes like to think that swimming is rest because it can be easier on the legs. It is still demanding of the cardiovascular system, however. I would consider starting with a few days a week and taking true rest with days off. You will be surprised at how quickly you progress if you can not rush. Counterintuitive and goes against all instincts, but has been true in my experience. I would also be careful about eating well with these increasing demands. Not the time to be restricting your intake of quality food. Great time to work into some basic strength and core training to get that solid foundation. Enjoy your fresh start!