Training in the Post Season for Endurance Athletes


Coach Curt Wilhelm

This is the first article in a series, directed towards the changing seasons – off season through race season. They are meant to provide some general guidelines, thoughts, and tips to help you toe the start line in your best shape.
I like to think of the transition period between the end of the race season and the start of the next training season as the “postseason.” It’s an essential period that allows the athlete to fully recover mentally and physically and to allow time to reflect on the previous season.? Once all the racing over, it’s a good time to let the body and mind heal. By the end of the season, you’ve put your body through enough stress preparing for and traveling to races, while maintaining a balance of career and family, that I recommend taking an entire week or two off the bike completely.  Instead, you may want to try some other activities, such as some short hikes, gym workouts, or treadmill or elliptical trainer sessions. It’s important to stay active with short, easy sessions to keep your body moving, and keep your mind clear and ready to come back stronger, fresher, and enthusiastic to train your butt off.

After the postseason break, I use the good weather for a period of two weeks to two months to simply enjoy the time on the bike. It's important to emphasize enjoyment of riding and being outside. You may want to leave the power meter and heart rate monitor at home and don’t worry about getting in your intervals or sprints - only fun riding! You can even ride hard and chase your friends around if you’re feeling up to it. The rides are not about training because you'll have plenty of time to do that later. 

Base training should start about six months before your first “A” race and generally lasts about twelve weeks. For some riders, it works to hang their bike up over the winter. Just keep in mind that if you are one of those that hangs up your bike, that you will likely lose a great deal of fitness and gain unwanted pounds.  If you do hang up the bike during the winter months, focus on cross training, including running, cross country skiing, weight training, or other cardio work, such as elliptical machines.  It's much easier to start the base period with some fitness and within 5-8 pounds of your race weight than having to work your way back and try to lose 10-15 pounds.? The following are some tips to help you get through the postseason and be ready for the base period:

  • Stick with a lower intensity riding and no racing mentality. After one or two weeks completely off your bike, your rides should be about fun, health and fitness, camaraderie, and the overall experience instead of preparing for the next race. It's still ok to hit it hard when you feel like it, but try not going hard more than once a week.
  • Reflect on aspects of the season that went well and note ones that didn't.  What did you do last season to help maximize your performance? Identify one or two areas that require improvement and focus on these in your training plan.  By keeping it simple and limiting the areas to improve, you will stay focused and achieve better results. Don’t forget, your training can be updated throughout the process, so if you can focus and improve quicker, you may be able to move on to new areas.
  • Take advantage of the extra time to cross off your list of to-dos around the house and enjoy non-bike activities with your family. Go for a hike, head to the museum, or even just have a movie night at home. It helps to reduce the stress on your spouse and kids. Remember, although they may not be training, the travel, races, and training is tiring for them too! You’ll all start the new season with a clean mental slate! 
  • Maintain some fitness by not hanging up your bike. The beginning stages of your base training will be easier because you won’t have to start over. Enjoy the fitness you built during the season by taking in the experience and having fun with your friends. 
  • Watch your diet.  Make it easier on yourself by not putting on weight you'll need to take off later.  You won't be burning as many calories, so cut back on your ?starchy carbohydrates (pasta, bread, rice, potatoes, etc.) and focus on simple, clean foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and fats, such as olive oil. Developing (or redeveloping!) a good diet in the postseason will help you to maintain a good weight, as well as build a base of good eating habits that you can rely on during periods of heavy training loads.
  • Focus on building muscular power and endurance. You’ve been maintaining your strength throughout the season, so it’s important to change gears in the postseason to ncorporate a different weight training routine.?


    Curt Wilhelm is a certified USAC Level 2 Coach located on the Colorado Front Range. He focuses on mountain bike training and racing because of his passion for the people, challenge of the technical climbs and fast descents, and the outdoor experience it offers.
    Curt’s training plans are designed for the “everyday” athlete. As a husband and father of two young children, he understands the difficulty of balancing family, career, and training. Curt applies his experience as an everyday athlete, who successfully races mountain bikes at a CAT 1 level, to all of his coaching. Plans are built around focused workouts and start at $99 for training plans, $179 for custom plans, and $250 for one month of coaching services.
    For more detailed information, go to www.mtbcoach.com.

News Item: