The time has come, almost irregardless of where you live in the world the weather is changing and some modification to your habits, expectations and preparations must occur. This transitional time of year–say September to December– is always a tough time of year as athletes come of the highs of final races and memories of sunny days and dry roads. To help you in this transitional time here are a few ideas that will help us get into off-season mode.
1) Habits and Preparations
Get your clean ‘road’ bike setup for the trainer. A good trainer tire helps make the trainer feel much nicer and every year the trainer/roller technology is advancing to have a better, more road-like feel (less muscular). The more we can be prepared the day before workouts, and ideally in the weeks before resuming training after some time off, the better we will transition. Athletes should spend time easing into cross-training before the weather gets really bad (e.g. 20min run a couple mornings a week in late August/September). Being ready to cross-train gives us options to add to our indoor training, which ideally we will also set up so that we can easily get on bike and not use setup as an excuse. Similarly, having your gear for riding and cross-training setup in a clean and organized fashion makes starting each training session much easier. Similarly, signing up for classes, such as these ones at Active Life, can help commit you to completing training. For many athletes a head-lamp and warm, ‘rain/cold proof’ coat can help make early-morning and evening workouts easier by allowing runs to be mixed in with trainer workouts or as standalone workouts. Strength Training, such as these 5 cyclo-cross movements, can be a great way to mix up your winter training too!
It won’t be warm and riding outside won’t be the same as summer. Indoor riding and cross-training are a big part of off-season so we must embrace it and find things to enjoy about these activities. Many athletes embrace the time of year to watch TV series seasons, listen to new albums and/or watch movies. I have always enjoyed the chance to explore the forest without concern for trails while snowshoeing and back-country skiing. For riding outside we must not expect that our intervals will be doable, that we will be comfortable or that we will be able to have all our usual data. It can be helpful to think about outdoor winter riding as more of a cross-training activity, like skiing, so that we avoid comparing rides and data to summer rides. One of my favorite things last winter was to put on trail runners and ride my ‘beater’ MTB around town with flat pedals. I could work pretty hard but also got to work on drifting corners, bunny-hopping on flat pedals and developing pedal stroke on snowy trails. Often I will combine many activities, with very quick pre-setup transitions, to make a long workout. Something like 30min trainer/90min back-country ski/60min trainer to get 3 hour endurance day in.
The advantage of this time of year is that we are able to focus on several components of our performance. Even without power we can setup a reliable speed/cadence sensor and track or daily workouts fairly reliably. We can work on getting that cadence up and building our fitness with specific intervals uninhibited by traffic, weather or group rides. Cross-training and off-season training are important components of many successful athletes (avoid typical off-season mistakes) . The change in training stimulus helps keep your fitness improving by stressing your body differently (ie. skiing uses more musculature and is potentially more challenging to a cyclists cardiovascular system) . This variation in training load and type is an important, albeit often forgotten, part of periodization.
I hope this helps you get rolling with your Winter Training . Enjoy the Weather
P.S. If you are preparing for an event and looking for some training guidance Smart Athlete Training Plans might be the perfect thing for you *new event specific plans up now*