4 ways to maximize the cycling off-seasonSeptember 29, 2017 | by Joanie Caron
The fall and winter seasons have always been an interesting period as a cyclist. Shorter days and wet weather means less riding time outside, and often comes with decreased motivation or lack of direction, as the next season seems so far away.
However, this transition period is a fantastic time to take advantage of your training, in order to make your next season a successful one.
But first, a reflection process has to take place. Have you met your goals? If not, how can you improve? This exercise may take a few days or weeks, but it is absolutely worth it in order to grow, change and discover new limits.
I have been racing at a high level for the past 13 years, and am still learning and improving every year. For me, the past two years (before and after Rio), were the ones where I made a lot of physiological improvements. Among the main changes was surrounding myself with a team of dedicated rock stars, including a strength & conditioning coach, a chiropractor and a dietitian.
But, I realize this is not feasible for everyone. So, I would also like to share the top four things I learnt over the years that helped me maximize my off-season training – things I wish I did from my early days.
1. Setting a big goal for next year is good, but planning is what will bring you there
What is needed in order to achieve your goal and where are you right now? To help you get started, I recommend a VO2max or lactate threshold test which we offer in the Fortius Lab. These analyses are done on a cycling ergometer and will help you set a baseline on your current fitness, and provide some key metrics to help you guide your training plan.
A nutrition plan is another key component that will help you in reaching that next challenge. If you are unsure about your nutrition needs, book an appointment with a registered dietitian to ensure you are fueling and hydrating your body properly during your training and rest days.
If you are getting more serious about your cycling, I would also recommend a consultation with a cycling coach. I found this to be very motivating, as it gave me direction, helped me map a route for success and in tackling new challenges as they came up. Whether you want to improve hill climbing, loose a few pounds or prevent injury, do not hesitate to reach out to the right people and resources.
2. Have a training journal and a structure
Having a training journal, whichever form it takes, is an awesome way to stay on track and learn about yourself. Strava and Training Peaks are easy to use and allow you to upload your ride. Personally, I like to look at my old training journal and see what worked well, and compare the loads I was doing at different times. This helps me customize the training, even years after. Think about including notes such as sleep, nutrition and stress levels as well, to see how life can serve OR limit your progression. Self-knowledge is power.
3. Take care of your body
You may have the fanciest bike, but the most precious tool on race day is your own body. Incorporating cross-training (with proper progression), strength & conditioning work and alternative activities, such as Pilates, will help to strengthen your weak areas, while keeping you fresh when you hit those intensity sessions. On top of these regular activities, plan some body-tuning sessions. Try recovery techniques such as foam rolling and self-massage, or book a regular appointment with a massage therapist, chiropractor or physiotherapist to work on those hard-to-get kinks.
4. Incorporate high intensity indoor cycling
Incorporating specific intensity work twice a week during the off-season is the most effective way to improve your aerobic capacity. The PowerWatts™ indoor cycling studio at Fortius uses multi-adjustable road bikes with gears to simulate the real training environment. Each 60-minute session includes high intensity interval training in a virtual state-of-the-art environment, with a fun small-group setting.
In addition, all PowerWatts™ coaches are experienced cyclists who are passionate about sharing their experience with athletes of all levels. They are happy to talk over your goals with you, as teamwork makes the dream work! In fact, we offer a FREE 30-min coach consultation and your first ride free, so you can check it out for yourself.
Book your FREE 30-minute consult today by contacting me at email@example.com or the Training Centre team at 604.292.2502.
So if you reached your goals last season, lets set the next ones! If not, the fall season is an awesome opportunity to find out which areas are the ones you should invest time and effort in to achieve success.