Coach’s Column with Lynda Wallenfels: Taking Time Off vs. Enjoying Late Season Riding

Question: I want to take some time off the bike during this off-season, but I hate missing the nice fall weather since winter is right around the corner.  I also know I need to be back to a structured training program in December, January at the latest.  I don’t feel too burned out from the season.  Should I still take a break?  If so, how long of a break should I take and how should I time it? Also, should I be ‘lazy’ during the break or be active still doing other physical activities?

Answer:  There is no need to take any more than one week off the bike as an off-season break if you are healthy and don’t feel burned out from the season. Do take a longer break from structured training but stay active. In fact doing late fall rides are a great way to take advantage of all that hard earned fitness you built up during the race season. Get out and have fun on your bike!

Do take a minimum of a single very low key recovery week where you relax, get a massage and sleep a lot. After that, enjoy the late fall weather and do all those routes and rides you missed out on during the season when they didn’t fit perfectly into your training plan. Most mountain bike racers enjoy adventures on their bikes, so pack a lunch and go exploring with friends.

Stay active in November and set yourself up for higher performance in 2015 with some of the following:

  • Rehab any injuries.
  • Improve your technical ride skills with a class, lesson, camp or practice.
  • Cross train with other aerobic seasonal sports such as skate skiing.
  • Improve body composition and lose weight if you are more than 10 lbs over your optimum race weight for men or 7 lbs for women.
  • Strengthen any weaknesses.
  • Stretch any tight muscles and balance your body.
  • Learn a new skill that will help you once the season starts such as yoga or how to wrench on your bike.
  • Get any dental work done if needed.
  • Get any other medical issue that needs recovery time taken care of.
  • Take care of any physical labor or domestic chores you put off during the season.
  • Give extra time and attention to your support crew – you know the people who you depend on in-season.

Lynda Wallenfels is a Category 1 certified USA Cycling coach. She coaches mountain bike, cross country and endurance athletes to personal bests and national championships. Lynda has been coaching off-road athletes and racing for 18 years. Connect with her through her website for information on mountain bike training plans, coaching and consulting at LWCoaching.com.

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