It’s that time of the year where athletes are winding down their season.
I have some athletes transitioning to longer runs, Cyclocross, cross-country skiing and trail running. While most of these athletes will say they are cyclists or multisport athletes they are all endurance athletes.
So in that odd space between the end of one season and the beginning of a new season what is an athlete to do?
One of the misconceptions about transitional periods, when coupled with the words rest and relaxation, is that it is misconstrued as its time to sit on the couch. Far from it. While it is a transition from one sport to another you still need to keep moving. It’s OK to take a week or 2 or 3 away from all sports and structured training.
Staying away from your primary sport is not just about taking a physical break but a mental break as well. Those athletes new to their sport and or structured training often need to have their off time structured. The athletes that have trained with structure and have competed for years are often able to listen to their bodies and know when it’s time to return to their sport. I will typically give competitive athletes 1 week off in the middle of a season and 2 weeks off at the end of the competitive season.
In those 2 weeks, I will tell athletes to hang up their bikes or their running shoes and try something new. Hiking, trail running, and just running have been my favorite transition sports. I know cyclists that will swim, ride their mountain bikes or will take up Cyclocross in the fall. All of these are wonderful alternatives to your primary sport and keep you moving.
Taking 2 weeks off is only part of the transition from one sport to the next or from the race season to the off-season. The total time could be 4-6 weeks before the off-season begins. This is the time of year I quit worry about intervals and ride with friends or go explore new routes. I have also been known to work on improving a standing on a Strava Segment or two. This season I am going to take it easy because I know my off-season is going to be full of riding!
While I said it’s a smart idea to eschew the structure during the transiting phase it’s still a good idea to layout what you want to do.
Here is a typical schedule:
- Monday – Gym Strength Training
- Tuesday – Run Easy or Ride Easy
- Wednesday – Gym Strength Training
- Thursday – Run Easy or Ride Easy
- Friday – Cross Training
- Saturday – Long Easy Run or Ride
- Sunday – Day off or Cross Training
Easy means easy
When I tell my athletes to ride or run easy I am looking for work to be done at a conversational pace not getting out of Zone 2 heart rate or power.
Long distance is relative
When planning on a long run or ride it doesn’t mean to triple the time or distance you have ridden or running it just means to go longer. If you have spent an hour running or riding during the work week then making a ride or run last 1-2 hours on the weekends will count as a longer effort.
Cross Training is not Cross Fit
When taking time down but still having the need to keep moving cross training is what is needed. Cross training should not be confused with the Cross Fit Training Regimen. Cross training simply means participating in another active or endurance-based activity that keeps you off the bike or out of your running shoes. Cross training is not meant to be intense!
Don’t forget to clean up
At the end of the active race or event season, it’s wise to take inventory of equipment and get the bike cleaned, repaired and tuned for the off-season. It’s also wise to clean up and organize your home gym or pain cave.
In the next article, I am going to cover some more tips for preparing for the off-season. The off-season is all about building up a base of fitness and the wider the base the more performance you will be able to build going into the in-season.
Until Next Time,
Train Smarter Not Harder