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The Post Season

by Mike Mitchell

(Your On Line Website Coach)

The season is over and you can sit back and rest, right? Yes and no. The off-season, or post season, may not be as focused on physical training, but is just as important to your success next year. It is a time to review last season’s performance and identify your strengths and weaknesses. It is a time to try some of that cross training that just didn’t fit into you Spring training schedule. And most importantly, it is a time for mental recovery. This is not only for those of you who race, but it is also important for the recreational rider to build enthusiasm for next season.

For the more serious and competitive riders (usually those with the more demanding pre and in season training regimens), the early part of the off season should be spent off the bike relaxing. During this time, you will want to review your riding season and sort out what went well and not so well - while the rides and /or races are still fresh in your mind. This is an important first step to laying out the coming year’s training and racing calendar. Let’s look at Dale Knapp for a second and see what he, and I as his coach, do following a season. Upon arrival from Worlds, Dale doesn’t unpack his bikes and go ride, he goes back to his day job and begins the analysis of his season’s strengths and weaknesses. For example, we might identify that his late race power was not good, but his endurance and tactics were greatly improved. With that in mind we can start the planning phase for the next year even though the actual training won’t begin for another 4-6 weeks. To work on his power and climbing we will look at lengthening some intervals and add some hard climbs toward the end of rides. With that done, Dale can head for the gym and ski trails for some cross-training.

The post season is a great time for those sports that were far from your mind during the spring. Of course there is always the gym, but that can be sterile and monotonous. What I’d suggest is a combination of gym work and outside activities with the goal of maintaining your fitness but without killing yourself. In as little as an hour a day, you can maintain fitness and develop strength. There is no need for more than 12 hours a week during this time, although some riders who want to "go big" and pile on the hours should feel free to go for it. But there is the risk of becoming a "Winter Champion" and burning out by the time June rolls around.

I’d suggest using the gym several times a week for 1.5 hours each, working on weights and mixing in some cardio work on the treadmill or in Spinning and Kickboxing classes. Most gyms will have a staff trainer that can instruct you as to which muscles to work and how to lift. Your goal is not to become a power lifter and add bulk, rather to improve your muscular endurance. This is best accomplished with lighter weights and higher reps. For some gym alternatives to fill in the rest of your week, try running, snowshoeing, XC skiing and swimming. Don’t wear your heart rate monitor, just go and have some fun. The post or off-season comes at different times for everyone, but generally speaking it is from October through February. By doing other activities during this time and staying in good shape you will be ready to start piling on the base miles in February and March.

In my opinion the most important part of the off-season is the mental rest. And, as I mentioned before, this is most beneficial (and necessary) for those of you who race. Once your season has been reviewed and put on paper, your mind is free to think about all those other parts of a rider’s life such as anniversaries, birthdays, food, or, of course, nothing at all. Taking time off the bike will help to build enthusiasm for the upcoming season. And you will need this anticipation to keep you going when you are riding in the cold spring rain. For those of you who are not racers, the winter is also a great time. You may not put pressure on yourself to train and ride, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be following the same program as the racer types. You too are renewing your passion for riding and thinking about what centuries you will ride over the upcoming summer, and will then go into these stronger and better prepared?

I hope this gives you some insight for the upcoming winter. The more work you do in the post season, the easier the base miles will come in late winter and early spring. Next I will address how to structure your early season riding and plan a solid preseason. As always, your questions and comments are appreciated so feel free to e-mail me.

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