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The Off-Season
By Coach Jerry Jacobs

 It is that time of year where the off season approaches and everyone has a bit of a different idea what and how that will play out.

I can tell you it is different for everyone, but all riders need a plan that works, with the goal of getting through the off season mentally refreshed  and ready to hit it hard as you head into next year.

It is time to press the “re-set” button. This is a period to transition from the past season to
the next race season.
Let’s start with the primary goal. Everyone needs to come into the 2023 race
season fully recharged and ready to train. You should be hungry and excited to get back to
work. If you are anxious and highly motivated to do hard work, then mission accomplished.
A successful calendar over the full racing year should have racers at peak form for their “A”
events. We also judge success by athletes racing well though the entire race season. That
means still having good form through the final events of an athletes race season.


Transition
First, a transition should be a clear break in training and a total “reset”. While there are
numerous ways to do this, all of them involve some amount of “de-training” and rest. This is
critical to recharge batteries both mentally and physically.
We have found through a lot of experience that some athletes think they can just
go hard though this period. It never works!
We understand how anxious that will make many of the most motivated athletes feel. We work
hard to gain fitness. None of us like to lose that hard fought fitness. Coaches included!

 

Check out Dylan Johnsons video here as a good resource on why the off season is so important:


Timing
Ideally, the period from about 11/1 to 12/1 is the transition period. No, this does not mean a
month of rest. It does mean some period of rest, or an alternative activity within this period.
More importantly, it means letting an athletes CTL (training load) decline enough to fully
recharge the batteries. As discussed, this will be different for each athlete. There is no perfect
formula.
Some of the top coaches and professional athletes advise a full 7 to 10 day period of not riding
the bike. An alternative activity such as hiking or skiing can fill this gap with some form or
aerobic activity. That is great for some and not practical for most of us.
An alternative path is to take a 3 week period whereby cycling activity is greatly reduced in both
volume and intensity. Maybe 50% or normal volume and no structured or hard work.
This is an optimal period to introduce or to increase other forms of activity. Time to get in the
gym. Personally, I ramp up my core, flexibility and strength work. 

These activities will help a lot to improve posture and position on the bike.
As you get older in your racing careers, these other forms of fitness become more important.
Trust us on that one!

Following Transition
Then it is time to begin preparation for a highly successful 2023!
The first part of this process is to build a nice aerobic base. This is
best accomplished by a big block of sub-threshold, zone 2 and “sweet spot” structure. This is also an
ideal time to get in some longer rides. Any time the weather is cooperative in winter months, getting a 4 to 5 hour ride is “money in the bank” for your next racing season.
Again, many of our most highly motivated athletes want to go above targets and harder than we
advise over this period. Don’t do it!
Thankfully, all the athletes that we have worked with over a few seasons know what is coming.
That is a period of very hard work whereby we will push athletes to their individual limits. The
best time to do this is in late February to about late April. That is a period whereby athletes can
make major improvements in their FTP. We are generally not conflicted with any
priority “A” events over this period. As such, we can push limits and can do some periods of
overloading training.
All of us only have so many weeks and blocks of this kind of work. This again will differ greatly
depending on specific goals.
Then it is time to “sharpen the knife” and to race!
As racing adds a lot of stress to the system, we must adjust our training. Volume, by itself,
becomes less critical. Depending on events, it is time to get really fast and sharp. That is best
accomplished by a variety of short, hard, intense interval sessions and racing.

 Now it is time to let the gas off and take a breath. Hard work will resume soon enough.

Enjoy!

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