The offseason for bike racers has definitely changed over the past years. I think when we use the word "offseason" we usually think of a traditional big team sport like football, baseball or basketball. But since we're cyclists, what do we mean by that and what does it mean for us?
Races now go late into the year, then cyclocross begins! With its popularity growing every year and before you know it, the spring season is here and motivation is high for the road season again!
Let's go over a few basic offseason topics that will help you make the transition to the 2013 race season:
Make no mistake about it, every rider needs a definite break or change in routine from the regular season. However, it is important for each individual to define his or her offseason for a variety of reasons unique to them.
The most important reason for an "offseason" is to allow the body and mind to relax and "catch up." I like the analogy of weight lifting: you push your limits in order to break down muscle fibers, but it's the recovery periods that make you stronger. It's the same reason why you take vacations from work, as you've got to have a break from the routines and the stresses. The key here is everyone is different and what may be good for one may not be good for another.
I was just talking to a couple of my younger athletes this week. Both are motivated, both are great riders with a lot of potential. One needs to take total time off, go do other things, get as far away from the bike as possible. The other likes to keep riding, just needs to get away from the racing and sub-culture that constantly bombards us through the internet. Each is successful; each is different in their approach.
Physical Versus Mental
These two words are used so much in sport, let's briefly clarify them. Unless you have over-trained and over-raced (which is actually easy to do in cycling because of the non-impact nature of the sport), the physical side usually can recover pretty quickly. Just take a week off the bike and your body can be rejuvenated. It's more the mental side of the sport, the motivation, the commitment that can take longer to recover.
Do whatever it takes to get a break. Again, everyone is different. Some need to get away from the sub-culture, some need to do other activities. Just make sure of one thing; don't start up your program until you are ready to commit to training 100 percent.