Getting on Top of Winter Training
Make sure you and your bike are ready
You’ve had a long season and the accumulated fatigue of training and events has taken its toll. You still enjoy riding, but you no longer crave it. It’s time to rest for a while. These days, off-season training seems to start the moment the last season finishes. There is no reason to jump right back in, however, and there are great advantages to taking your time to prepare for the winter.
First, get plenty of rest. The season was likely a long one, and if you raced into autumn on your cyclocross bike or in some fall runs, you’ve certainly earned some complete down time. Don’t ride, don’t run, and don’t swim for a few weeks – at least 2 weeks and up to 3 of them if you like. If you get a chance to attend a few Yin yoga classes, do it, and get plenty of sleep. Some people find that if they don’t work out, they have trouble sleeping. Stay the course, and let it be. Just like with training, you will adapt and within a few nights you’ll be sleeping normally.
While you’re not putting in the long training miles, take some time and pay attention to your equipment. Give your bike a thorough check-up and deep cleaning. Inspect your frame, fork, seatpost, handlebar and stem for cracks, and check your wheels’ brake tracks for excessive wear. Consumables like chains and tires are often at their limits by now and need replacement. It’s also a good idea to replace brake and shifter cablesets each season. If winter is wet where you live, consider fenders. A nice set, with long flaps, goes a long way towards keeping you and your friends comfortable. Now is also the time to replace your shoes if you need to. Getting used to new ones is much easier on your muscles and joints when they’re not in top shape and finely tuned.
Just like it’s important to maintain your equipment, it’s also important to maintain your body. Pay attention to and address any nagging health issues you might be dealing with. Get a check-up, and replace worn orthotics, cycling cleats or running shoes – any wearables whose failure or excessive wear could cause chronic injury.
Your end-of-season break is a great time for review and planning. Take some time, look at your goals for the past season, and see if you met them. Examine your strengths and weaknesses, and make a plan for improvement. Set your targets for the next year, and if necessary, revise your 3-Year Plan (you made one, didn’t you?). If you have a coach, have he or she help you – that’s their job as much as it is yours.
With a bit of planning and plenty of rest, you’ll arrive at the beginning of your winter training season healthy, motivated, and ready to rock.