For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, we are entering the time of year that is welcomed by some and dreaded by others. With no events in sight, you may be having trouble letting go of those race season gains you worked so hard to achieve. While it’s difficult to see your hard-earned chronic and acute training load numbers decrease, a healthy dose of perspective and continued discipline during this time of year can set you up for an enjoyable and productive off-season. Here are five ways you can make transitioning to the off-season more enjoyable this year.
1. Review Your Season
Whether on your own or with your coach, now is a great time to review your performance management chart (aka, PMC) in TrainingPeaks. Using the PMC, you can understand volume, training loads, power outputs, and whether you peaked correctly for your priority events. Look at how any unexpected events, like family vacation and/or illness, affected your training. Ask yourself whether you did enough base or whether you put in enough hours. Did you address your limiters and meet your training goals? Now is a great time to determine if you did the right races at the right time and whether they were suited to your strengths.
If you have not written down what you learned from 2021, do so now. This is now much easier to do with the note feature in TrainingPeaks. Write down where you see opportunities to grow. By the end of the year, you will have a reference point to look back on and ask yourself what worked and what didn’t.
Writing things down serves as a great way to look at and celebrate your successes, and will help you to begin to think about their limiters. It is surprising how much my athletes accomplish when they write down the lessons they’ve learned and align those lessons with their new goals. Your success in future races depends on your analysis of your previous year’s race data, which will help you prepare and modify your training to meet next year’s goals and selected races or events.
2. Continue to Be Active and Have Fun
Transition season is a great time to focus on your general fitness, including all the activities you missed during your training and racing season. Whether it be strength training, backpacking, a century ride, or even just a day hike with the family and dogs, now is the time to have no agenda. Just try to remain active at least five days a week with two days of rest. A good guideline is to reduce your training volume by 50% of your regular weekly training hours.
Remember that athleticism is more than just training specifically for your event and there are many cross-training methods to achieve this. If you feel like resting a little more, then do so — but remember it is important to continue building that physiological foundation to be prepared for the rigors of conditioning come race season.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment
If you’ve been thinking about putting a new power meter on the mountain bike, trying a new diet, or practicing some new skills, now is the time to experiment. With my athletes, I often focus on pedaling efficiencies, peloton etiquette, or handling skills like downhill and cornering. They always say you shouldn’t try something new on race day, so this break from regular racing is a great time to test alternative training methods, nutrition, and gear.
It’s also a great time to hone your mental game, like positive self-talk and meditation. These skills can take as much or more training as riding your bike but will serve you well when the season ramps up. I also make it a point to share research, articles, and books with the athletes I work with during their transition season. This often leads to discussions that help us modify and develop goals for the coming year.
4. Tend to the Things You’ve Neglected
Many athletes tend to put off house chores, medical procedures, and even some workouts like strength training due to their busy race season schedule. The off-season is a great time to catch up, especially with the stabilization exercises that get you ready to do higher-level loads of weight training like maximum strength and power.
5. Use a Training Program and Consult With a Coach
A training program keeps you organized, focused, and gives you goals to reach on a daily basis. It also serves as a basis for communicating with a coach. Most, if not all coaches will provide consultations, file reviews, and program adjustments. Using a program and consulting with a coach is probably the most effective way to make your off-season, as well as race season, the most productive it can be.
- Explore TrainingPeaks’ extensive library of training plans
- Or, take your training to the next level with a coach.
The “off-season” is your transition into the next season. As such, you want to maintain your discipline but shift your focus from training to recovery. With the right balance of rest, activity, and effective planning, you’ll start your next season refreshed, focused, and perhaps even riding faster!