How to begin the perfect OFF SEASON

Oct 05, 2015

With the 2015 season over many thoughts turn towards a well earned break before the real winter training starts to kick in. Some have been thinking of this down time from about July and longing to over indulge and not have to think about the normal routine of structured training without the guilt normally felt during the year.  Some people’s ‘transition’ period can last anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months depending on each individuals commitments and goals.

What is important to remember, this transition period is critical and can have a major impact on how much progression can be made in the challenging winter months and subsequent fitness come Spring 2016.  So how do you get it right.

Why is this time so important to future performances?

Firstly, we all need a break.  Sometimes it is as important on the mental side as it is physically. Making sure you get enough down time and renewed motivation to train again is crucial as the winter nights and bad weather will test your enthusiasm and dedication. Make sure you have an abundance of this as you begin your build up towards 2016. cyclists resting.jpg

The balance lies within having a long enough break to encourage essential enthusiasm and not taking too long off whereby you lose gains made over the previous Spring and Summer.  One big mistake seen time and time again is people believing it is normal or acceptable to get unfit and over indulge only to spend the next 3 months fighting to lose the extra kilo’s and claw back to a basic level of fitness.

By having a short break and then taking the steps explained below will allow you to not only start winter training at a better level than previous but also see you reach a new ‘peak’ fitness come Spring. Don’t get into the rut of losing all the hard earned gains during the year to only come back to square one again.  You can keep some benefits of previous training and get back into condition quicker than before.  This phase of MAINTENANCE undertaken correctly will find you at a new higher ‘peak’ fitness when race season comes round again.

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What should I do?

No longer than 2 weeks of inactivity.  Any longer and you will not only feel the negative effects physically but mentally also.  We all love the endorphins exercise brings, so try and keep to this time scale.

Take this time to look at any injuries that may have occurred during the year with the focus to rehab were necessary and ensure the problems don’t arise the following year.  Undertake research into physio/core workouts/strength routines to eradicate any unbalances.  Now is your time to implement such routines.  We would recommend 'The Pain-Free Cyclist' by Matt Rabin & Robert Hicks as a worthwhile reading resource on injury prevention, treatment and rehab.

One other ‘biggie’ that will de-rail your winter preparation is dental work.  Any cyclist out there who has had the ‘pleasure’ of dental work will know the impact it can have on your ability to train. Get this addressed now so you don’t have to endure additional suffering come next year!! 

Any sort of training after your initial 2 weeks off should be both enjoyable and different to the norm. If you enjoy other sports and activities such as hill walking, gym work, swimming, running, mountain biking, etc. Now is the time to allow these activities to play a role in how you start to build fitness again.  A word of warning be careful to stay injury free with these new activities as your muscle groups may not be used to the demands the alternative exercises might require.  These alternative activities can make up 2-3 training days a week for a 2-4 week period.

To make this an upward progression of training we would suggest increasing the frequency of the training per week rather than the duration of individual training days.

Another tip is to not completely stop riding your bike, at least one day a week of riding your bicycle a week in this initial transition phase will help maintain some muscle memory which will assist your development when you begin your winter training in earnest at a later date.

gym.jpgMost of these activities should be completed at a lower intensity than perhaps you would normally do, keep this a good aerobic workout to burn a few calories and help keep the waistline trim. On days when cycling we would recommend avoiding large volume on individual sessions.  Keep to the ethos of increasing the frequency of the training rather than the duration of each ride. 2-3hrs on any given bike ride at a moderate intensity is the norm for many during this transition period.

Key points to take:

  • Any inactivity should last no longer than 2 weeks in total, 10 days to 2 weeks is enough.
  • Get back into an ‘unstructured’ routine of exercising 3-4 times a week for 2-4 weeks after this initial break.
  • Keep your training and activities mixed up and enjoyable.
  • Stay injury free with new activities.
  • Continue to lead a healthy lifestyle without being obsessive. Excess weight gain and lowering of immune system can be detrimental come pre-season training phase.  

Once you have enjoyed this transition phase you will now be ready to take on the real preparation towards the 2016 season.  Mentally and physically able to focus on the journey ahead with renewed energy and determination. You will keep some of the gains from the past season and see you hit the new season with legs and lungs your counterparts wish they had.  

We will be hosting a FREE webinar on your ‘Essential Winter Training Checklist’ on the 28th October, register HERE to reserve your place and learn from the experts at Dig Deep Coaching.  

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Category: Advice News

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