It’s time to make a plan, it’s time to get excited!
As the nights and mornings draw in, and colder weather starts to hit. It would be easy to get down and be unmotivated as spring/summer 2018 seems an age away. And the thought of riding in icy rain and having to spend half an hour putting all your many cloths on before can even leave the house, fill you with dread.
However, this is the time to get motivated. This is the time of the year to get excited! If you have been racing this season, your summer will probably of been spent racing most weekends and some weekdays, and short speed work or recovery rides in between. Sometimes, as good as this is, it can often start to feel laboured and more like a job as you try and fit it all in. You have earned a bit of a break and a refresh now. Even if your season didn’t go quite the way you had expected, it is still wise to use this off season to refresh. It is no good playing catch up on your training now to peak in January an be done by the spring as the sun comes out again! Equally, if you have been enjoying the Sportive season, or trained this year for a specific event or trip, then this is the time to take a step back, look back at what you have done, make new goals for what you want to do and make a plan!
From the end of October it will be 16 weeks to the beginning of next season proper. Not as far away as you think. So, a good structured plan of training will give focus to get you to where you want to be, when you want to be there. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail!
Having assessed your season and identified what you did well, and what you think you could do better, it is now time to make some goals for 2018. A good goal will give you complete focus and give your training purpose. Without a goal or goals you will simply just be riding. No problem with that, however, this can lead to over training, lack of motivation on those cold dark nights and wintery weekends. Have some big goals like a certain event, or move up a race category, or achieve a certain time over a certain distance in Time Trials. But also think of some process goals. These are very important, as concurring the techniques behind the riding will take you to your goal faster and more efficiently than simply stacking in the miles/km’s. These smaller, yet no less significant goals, could be. Climb better, sprint better, corner better, better bunch riding techniques, better pedal stroke….. the list could go on and on.
Make a plan
Time to put a plan into action to make sure you train effectively over the coming months so you can reach your goals in the time you need to. Train to much and you will peak and burn out way before you want to. Train to little and you wont have the fitness needed when you hit the season or your goal event. A good structured plan will consist of
This is when you build up the mileage. Its time now to ride your bike and just enjoy riding without to much pressure on speed or intensity. Get back out on those club runs, riding out with your mates or just getting the miles in on your own. Nice social rides, coffee stops, enjoying just riding.
Now you have a good base fitness and worked on building your endurance, it is now time to introduce and build up the intensity on your rides. Keeping structure to much intensity to soon will result in over training and set you back a week or two. So build up the intensity gradually week on week.
That should take you into early season. Now you will have the fitness to start racing or adding in some events.
During your training, it is very important to add rest days/weeks into your plan. It is very common for riders to set the goals and get carried away with the training, trying to fit as many rides in as they can in a week, petrified that any missed session will result in a loss of fitness. This will almost certainly result in over training and end up with the rider having longer periods of enforced rest. Instead have a couple of rest/easy days in your schedule. And an easy week every 2 to 3 weeks into your plan. Your body only adapts to the stress you have put it under in training while it is resting. No rest will lead to fatigue and a significant step backwards in your training.
The other good thing about winter is you can try some new things to keep your head fresh and build your fitness in other ways. These can include
Hit the gym. Weight training is a brilliant way to build on your fitness during the off season. Doing a good weights routine and working on specific muscles and muscle groups will have a brilliant effect to your riding. Don’t just work on the legs though, that is most riders mistake. Although the image above shows a dead lift, possible one of the most beneficial exercises to a cyclist. Training your upper body, arms, shoulders, back, chest and especially core. Will also have a massive benefit to cyclists. While riding we use a lot more of our bodies than we ever realise. Think of climbing and how your arms can feel sometimes?
Yoga and Pilates are incredible exercise classes to build those core muscles and get your body more supple. Cyclists are notorious for poor posture as we spend the majority of our time hunched over a bike. Core stability is also very important to a cyclist as the stronger the core the more effective the pedal stroke is, the more efficient you are and the faster you will go.
Get off road and you will never miss a days riding again. The beauty of off road riding is that because of the intensity level involved you never really get cold. Your not on the roads and dodging the cars and your a kid again, ripping through the woods and forests getting muddy. Brilliant for fitness and even better for those bike handling skills. If you can and can get a bike, have a go at cyclocross racing. Short sharp races that take no longer than an hour. Hard but a lot of fun.
So what are you waiting for?
No time to delay. Get excited, have a think of what you would like to do next year. Think big. Make a plan. And make a start.