Come December and January, the Internet will be flooded with articles discussing how to accomplish your goals for the next year. By waiting until the New Year to begin planning and training for your goals, you could put yourself in a time crunch that isn't necessary.
Whether you're a recreational rider or a competitive cyclist, begin by determining what you need to work on to accomplish your goals. If you participated in a 100-mile ride but could only ride the first 50 miles because of back pain, now is the time to work on figuring out why you're having pain on longer rides. Is it weakness? Or is it bike fit?
The body takes time to adapt to training. Areas of weakness will take longer to fix. Begin any good training plan by discovering what your limiters are. When you can discover what kept you from succeeding this year, you're one step closer to accomplishing your goals the next time around. And the sooner you start the better.
Here are a few specific limiters to consider as you develop a training plan for next year.
If back pain kept you from finishing an event or kept you from reaching a time goal, make an appointment with your doctor. It's better to get a serious problem out of the way first instead of exacerbating symptoms. If the doctor says you're okay, move to step two.
If you haven't had a good bike fit, get one. Most back pain stems from poorly adjusted saddle height and handlebar reach. While it might not be a problem for the first 20 miles, long distances have a way of uncovering errors in your position.
Once you've had a bike fit, determine if you still feel stiff or have pain after a long ride. If you do, then the problem is likely weakness caused by a lack of core strength. Center your offseason workout routine to build strength in these areas.
Lower Extremity Weakness
As with back pain, the place to start in discovering fixes for leg pain or muscular deficiency are bike fit and an exercise plan geared towards building strength. Also include time on the trainer with spinning exercises. The more time you spend in the saddle, the less likely that muscular fatigue will be an issue.