Off Season Training: Part 1

author : eric_kenney
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Part 1 of 3 on finding your weak areas and maximizing your time in winter.

Every fall and winter I talk about the same thing. Over and over. Why? Well, people still ask, athletes still don't know, and every year there are new athletes, new dreams, new goals and new ambitions.   
This is the first of three articles and they will address what I feel is the most important time of year and the most important training you will do all year!  Every year people ask my clients how they are so strong in spring and how they seem to never burnout, never get injured, and improve every single year.  The next three articles will get you on the right track. 
It’s the “Off Season” what do I … not do?

I get this question often this time of year. “How do you NOT train?” Especially for the competitive cyclist or triathlete who has been racing all summer - sometimes every weekend, not training hard and racing all the time can feel very strange.

The Off Season

First off I want to stress the word “OFF” in off season. Off! The first and most important aspect of your next season is being totally fresh and completely motivated for next season. Now is the time to start that process.

Less is better here. Catch up on work, family and drop off the bike at the shop for a tune-up. Have them check it over for cracks in the frame along with a full safety check. Racing is very hard on your equipment. The key with this phase is to make sure you are 110% ready to start training come the start of your program. The under-trained, over-motivated athlete will beat the perfectly-trained, under-motivated athlete every-time! Come the beginning of “base training” you should be itching to train. It should be all you think about. So when it's 20 degrees and freezing rain, your pumped up and ready to put in a solid training effort! This is also the best time to sit down with your coach and/or teammates   to discus what your goals will be for next year. How did you perform this year? What was good? What was bad? What will have to be different with your preparation, etc.

Here are five easy steps for an effective off season

1. Off time
Take an extended time of ZERO training. This will be different for everyone. Two weeks for some, two months for others. Take however much time you need to be totally rested and motivated to train again.

2. Recovery
Do you have any nagging injuries? Is your bike not working quite right for the last two months?  Have you been wanting to get that nagging cough looked at? Do it! Get a message, go to the doctor, dentist, whatever you need to do to feel 110 percent physically and mentally for the next season. This is active recovery - taking aggressive action towards healing. These are the most important aspects of off season training.

3. Maintenance training
After this you may be ready to train but your program doesn't start for another month. What to do? Many pro’s and age groupers alike will take part in “unstructured training." It's best to make it something different than your primary sport, try something new. It will most likely improve some skills needed in your primary sports. Just stay active. Cross training will maintain your base fitness and, depending on your activity, can address your weakness leaving you fit, motivated and with stronger limiters than you had last year. A perfect way to start your next season!

4. Cross Train!
Go mountain biking, trail running, play basketball, tennis, or whatever you like and have put off for the past summer. Working on stuff like this will help keep you injury free next year.

5. Most important is to have fun!
Do those old training rides you did when you first started riding. Plan a trip. I have done a few long rides with friends in the fall that have proved to be lots of fun and great endurance training.
Enjoy your off season, don't do 'too' much!

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date: December 18, 2012