The changing of the clocks often signals a change in approach. For most of us, the race season is over and we start to get our heads around less daylight, cooler temperatures and a different training focus.
But before we race ahead too fast, let’s just have a broader look at things in the ‘here and now’. And breathe!!!
In no particular order…
By taking an honest and analytical look at ourselves and the year just gone, we’ll be in a better place to make sure we don’t make the same mistakes again, realise our level, work on our weak areas and pat ourselves on the back accordingly. Did we get a good life balance? Did we train through injuries? Are our partners still talking to us!? Did we blow the budget? Did we learn and if so, what did we learn?
When the dust has settled and you’ve analysed your season, why not keep the pen and paper out and set out a plan for the next 12 months. ‘Phasing’ may help to make sure all areas get covered.
Now-March. ‘Base’ training. Endurance building, strength and conditioning development. Primary training zones 1-3.
Apr-June. ‘Preparation’. Reduction in endurance, a slight increase in intensity, work on skills (bike handling, brick sessions, transitions etc) Primary training zones 2-4.
July-Sept. ‘Peak’. Shorter sessions, higher intensity, skills. Primary zones 2-5.
Planning doesn’t stop at just working out your phases. You may want to join a club to develop techniques and increase social interaction, sign up to a training camp in the sun or try some cross-training (eg off-road running winter series or cyclo-cross.)
There can be consequences to making changes to our equipment during the race season. Essential repairs/replacements, of course, need addressing (eg to broken equipment beyond repair, lost trainers etc) but generally, if it’s not broken…. Now is a good time of year to make the necessary changes. Is your bike in need of a service (probably, yes!). Does the zip of your wetsuit still run freely and is stored away correctly for the winter? Have your trainers worn out? Are you equipped for winter riding? Safety first -see and be seen when training this winter.
Friends and family may well wonder why you’ve gone ‘off radar’ for a while. Now is a good time to re-introduce yourself and let them know they still play an important part in your life! They may or may not quite understand why we do what we do but they are our support network. Go on, get social!
It’s so important that we repair both our minds and our bodies. We’ve battered them both for a matter of months. Now let’s give them a break.
Our mind. The mental stresses during race season are huge. Balancing our lives, worrying if that injury will have cleared in time for our main event, will the event be cancelled at the last minute… the list is endless. This stress takes its toll, isn’t a sustainable situation and can be damaging to our mental health in the long run. This time of year, if a good opportunity to give our minds a good rest. Breathing exercises, meditation, relaxing countryside walks, music, yoga are all superb methods in helping bring balance back.
Our bodies. The limbs that have propelled you and hopefully served you well for the last few months will most definitely thank you for leaving them alone for a bit! We can now afford to reduce training intensity and volume and treat our bodies to some TLC. With the next race season being months away, this is the perfect time to address those niggles/ injuries in readiness for our winter phase of training. Perhaps treat yourself to some massages, foam rolling, light cross-training and low-intensity technical work (eg zones 1-2)
If you don’t feel ready to train again, don’t. Be patient and wait for the motivation to return. This autumn and winter will shape how your race season next year pans out so let’s enjoy it and stay safe.