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: