Firstly don’t panic! Don’t stop reading! And try not to break into a cold sweat, these are the standard reactions to mentioning The Off Season, I come up against this every year with new athletes. As a coach it is a tough time, tougher than race season. Trying to convince people that live to be active and push them selves day in day out to chill and take a break, its as if I just asked them to drown their favourite pet!!
So what we are wanting to do in this article is try and put your mind at ease and allow you to see what the gains are and what OFF SEASON really is and is not.
If we follow a training plan be it our own or one from a club or a coach you will (should have) a build phase followed by a recovery week before starting to build or peak again, well here you go the OFF SEASON is your recovery week just a little longer, the science is the same the theory the same. We overreach/over train to force our bodies to adapt then we allow our body through rest to become stronger and take these adaptations on board.
Take away the recovery period and our bodies will become fatigued and refuse to progress(Known as a Plateau or worst as Burnout).
Now these week long recovery periods do not mean you sit on the sofa eat icecream and refuse to move, during these periods we drop the intensity of sessions down to (base) easy effort, we cut the length of sessions as well, maybe even like some of my Elite XC riders go for a swim (lots of benefits of 20 min swim)
For any of you that train on road as well as off road I ban my large front ring for 4 weeks this prevents me overloading my muscles in training sessions, so try and ban your harder gears so you are having to spin a little more to prevent overloading those tired legs.
So to go back to OFF SEASON all we are doing is allowing our bodies and minds to recover, take on board all the hard sessions and racing that we have done over the year. So it means go and ride easy and relaxed, go find some new routes no pressure, its also a chance to catch up with all those people you know that don’t ride a bike and your family that you have ignored for 8 months ? Go try some different sports and have a laugh with it, once you have done those get the Calendar out and yes plan your races for the next season.
By having 3-4 weeks OFF SEASON you will have given your body a rest it will be stronger for it. Your mind will be wanting to get back out there so motivation will have grown.You will have had a chance to ride new MTB routes, visit family and catch up on other areas of your life……..WOW off season is actually really busy! It will be a welcome break to get back on the serious training.
So with the ever expanding race season (well 12months of a year now) we know this is getting harder to do, MTB goes through spring summer autumn and winter oh yeah and the skinny tyre MTB known as CX racing has now expanded their once small season, so how do we even feature an OFF SEASON into our year??? Goals my dear readers GOALS prioritise your races then when you see which races are not so important make the dession to take a break.