How can I keep my fitness level while on vacation?

I'm about to go to the Alps for a ten-day snowboarding trip. What would be the best use of my time to ensure I don’t lose too much bike fitness? Rob London, England

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It would be one thing if you had said you were going to Las Vegas to sit on your butt and play blackjack for ten days, but you’re going to the French Alps to snowboard! You’re going to be active, even strenuously active, each and every day you spend on the slopes. Stay out of the hotel gym and have fun on the mountain. If you really feel like you need to increase the amount of work you’re doing, hit the slopes earlier and pack more good runs into the day.

Your cycling fitness is not going to deteriorate over the course of a ten-day vacation. Afterwards, you might feel a bit stale or sluggish for the first couple of days on the bike, but that has more to do with the dehydration and stiffness that typically accompanies travel.

Go snowboarding and have fun. Do me a favor and don’t think about your cycling fitness or season at all while you are in on that trip. When you get back, either that day or the next depending on when you arrive back at home, go on a recovery ride. Spend no more than 60 minutes on the bike and ride easy, just spinning your legs. The next day, do a moderate-intensity ride, but don’t worry about doing a long or strenuous workout.

By taking two rides to get back in the swing of things, you will be ready for a high-quality, effective training session on your third ride back. This is the first workout that should include hard intervals. When athletes try to jump back into their training programs the first day back, they tend to exercise harder or longer than normal, figuring they have to make up for lost time. This sometimes ends up causing more harm than good, because the spike in fatigue means you’re tired for subsequent workouts, which in turn means those workouts are less effective.

For people who are taking shorter, more frequent business trips, a single recovery ride the day you return, or the following day, should suffice to transition you back into your normal training program.

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