If you've been pedalling hard all summer, and taking advantage of every dry day we've had, then now is a good time to think about an off season break. "How can TWC say such a thing?", we hear you cry, but taking a little rest can actually have you coming back stronger than ever.
With a wealth of knowledge and expertise in cycling and fitness, Kerry Bircher, head coach at women's focused training company Revolution Cycles, is adamant that taking time off the bike will make you faster and stronger next year.
This is the time of year when most competitive disciplines are heading into their off-season. The days are growing shorter, and it's getting chilly, and all you want to do is cosy up and hibernate. Well, according to Kerry, you can!
According to the Expert...
"Remember, we will not be fitter, stronger or faster until after we have recovered properly." - Kerry Bircher, Head Coach
Kerry says: "I know that it is really difficult to take a break from your beloved bike, and you may be hoping to continue cycling and carry summer fitness on through the winter months. Yet if you have been training hard and have had a busy cycling season, then you should build a recovery period into your training plan.
"Let’s say for example you cycled on through October, into the winter without a recovery period. You’d probably feel quite chuffed as you’d not lost any fitness but your form starts to plateau by end of January and by end of February, you’re wondering if the winter season will ever end; by March you’re fed up and demotivated.
"In contrast, another example sees you with a well thought out, periodized plan (ie. training ‘peaks and troughs’) and you take some time out in October. You then start back cycling gradually in November and December, combined with cross-training (ie. strength training, swimming, jogging etc). The New Year involves an increase in cycling, and by March you are motivated and ready for the start of your peak training in the summer."
5 Top Tips for the Off Season Break
- CYCLING REST: Your recovery period should last from two to four weeks. By the end of this period you should feel mentally and physically refreshed, and any lingering fatigue or soreness (which is very common) should be long gone before you move on to the next phase of base building.
- STAY ACTIVE: You can and should continue to remain active during the recovery phase. Just remember that all of your activities should be low intensity. This is also a great time to get involved in other activities that you may not have had time for - go for a run or walk, tennis, gym classes or other fun activities that will help you recover, both mentally and physically.
- TRY NEW DISCIPLINES: The great news about the recovery stage is that it is all about fun - I would highly recommend riding a mountain bike/ BMX and practising your bike handling skills. Alternatively, try a whole different style of riding altogether. Who knows, it may be your new calling...
- QUALITY TIME: If you’re in a full time job and/ or got a family, it can be stressful trying to keep cycling consistent throughout the year. Use the recovery period to invest in your career and family for that much needed mental boost, and extra support down the line.
- PLANNING: During this break, spend the extra time to plan your next season of cycling by researching, entering events and setting yourself some training goals.
So, use the next month to reduce your training or enjoy some guilt free time off your bike and yes, you may lose some cycling specific fitness, but the fitness rewards over the long term are far greater.
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