Off season. What now?!

During the season, we all have our routines. There are frequent group rides, some of us race on the weekends, and generally a lot of things are happening. It is easy to motivate yourself and go out. Fitness is good and things are fun. During the off-season, however, things often look different.

For some of us it gets dark much earlier in the day. For many the cold is an issue. Depending on the amount of riding and the number of races or other events completed during the season, most of us feel rather burned out and actually look forward to some down time.

No matter what your goals are and how much riding and/or racing you have been doing, it is always good to include a period of at least a couple of weeks per year to just relax - especially the mind.

It is crucial to not always feel urged to adhere to some training plan or stress over the next athletic objective. Take some time off for about 2-6 weeks at least once a year (btw. down time due to illness does not count).

What does it mean to take time off? Do nothing at all for up to six weeks? Not quite. While it is ok to do absolutely nothing anywhere from a few days, up to two weeks, I recommend not being inactive for periods longer than that. It is incredible how little it takes to maintain a decent fitness level. At the same time your fitness decreases incredibly fast, when being sedentary. So what exactly should I do then?:

  • Season ends: relax the mind and forget about your bicycle. Leave it somewhere for at least a few days. Go longer, if you feel like you need it.
  • After that be active. Go for walks, take the stairs whenever you can, and do some light exercising for 30-120min at least every 2-3 days (stretching, calisthenics, or try something new – preferably without injuring yourself).
  • After a week or two, it is ok to get back on the bike. If you’d rather not, that’s ok too. Just stick to your alternatives for a little longer.
  • If you feel like riding, do so no more than twice per week and keep it short and easy.
  • Exercise intensity should mainly be low in your active recovery or endurance zone. If you feel like it, throw in a sprint or short interval. But! You really have to feel like it. Don’t do it only because you feel like you should.

In sum: the off-season is meant to provide some deep relaxation for the mind and body while preserving a good amount of that good in-season fitness.

Don’t worry about the off-season too much. "Stay active, but don’t stress. Forget about a training plan and your goals. Avoid riding a bike. Have fun" (and some wine and cheese maybe). If you must ride, at least try something different (i.e. MTB if you are a roadie). Keep activities generally light and short.

After 2-6 weeks you can transition back into a more structured regimen. However, it is a good thing to keep the alternative exercises in the mix. Steadily phase back in the cycling, while phasing out the off-season activities. Most importantly, stay healthy!

Keep Striving – with Strivemax
Rich