Felt like this is a relevant question for this time of year. CX is wrapping up for most of the US. Weather is getting colder. And perhaps this question has already been beaten to death but I was letting my mind wander a bit as I sat on my couch in my so called “off season.”
What is an off season? Do you take time completely off the bike? Do you take time away from training but still ride? Do you forgo exercise altogether? The last two years I didn’t really take a real break off the bike. I had a couple weeks of just fun unstructured riding with no goal other than a mental break. This year I’m taking a week fully off the bike. But I was wondering if lifting weights “ruins” my break by not giving my body rest.
I guess my question really is less about whether you need an off-season break, but what does that actually look like for everybody. Would it be an off-season break if I still ride my bike but it’s just for fun? Would it be an off-season break if I go destroy myself in the gym lifting weights and playing basketball? Is it really necessary to take time off the bike at all?
For me, an off-season break is less about a strict time away from the bike. It’s all mental. I use it to regain that motivation and spark to hit my winter training hard. Which is why last year I kept riding but it was fun “no Garmin” rides where I rode until I didn’t feel like riding any more, and didn’t look at my numbers at all or didn’t even bring my computer. This year I feel like lifting, so I am taking some time off the bike to hit the weights, hoping that time completely off the bike will reignite that fire. But at the same time I don’t want to put myself in a hole before I even start my winter training. Which is why I wanted to start playing some pickup basketball again as I always loved it. And it’s exercise but something different.
Curious what you guys do (if anything) for a break. Is it a mental break or full physical break?
For me, it’s a mental break. I just take a bit of break from following a plan, until I’m ready to go again. This year I didn’t really take that long.
My opinion for me/ n=1 is that I am not doing the volume to necessitate a physical break from riding. It isn’t my day job - cycling and training is my break from the day job! And also, there’s enough incidental breaks with family/ work/ life.
This is how I treat it. Whatever puts me in the right headspace to be training again. And really it’s however long it takes me to want to train again. So if I’m like, “yea I could ride today” that’s not long enough. I want to be rearing to go, really itching to get back on the bike.
And I think Jon mentioned it, but it gives me some extra time to do the household errands. Or tinker with my bike. So I usually use the time to run over my tires to see how they look, check my chain wear (and drivetrain wear), get the trainer bike ready to go. I can also throw some fenders and bigger tires on the gravel bike for the rare instance I can actually ride outside.
I generally take very little time off the bike. I will have a family holiday, work trips and most likely pick up a bug or illness which will prevent me riding during the year.
I do take time away from obsessed racing cyclists and commute / do some solo riding. Also in month 3 of the gym and that’s going well.
Taking weeks away from bike means weight gain / fitness losses for me personally that are difficult turn around.
Motivation has never really being a problem. When I look at friends who burned out and ditched the bike is the biggest motivation. Former top riders who are now overweight and spending their weekends in restaurants / bars / drinking.
I usually take a week or two of vacation in each of the Spring, Summer, and around Christmas, and I always come back motivated to ride, so I don’t take any formal “off-season” because I feel like I’ve already done that.
Depends on your chronic fatigue. Some are tired from a 5 hour week, some consider that a rest week. I bumped my training hours from 400/year to 700/year this season. Last season I didnt take a break off the bike, but did 4 weeks of joy rides that didnt break a .6 IF. This year I took 6 days completely off, then 2 weeks of .55 IF. I just started a base block where I ride 2-4 hours between .6 and .68 IF. I will start a build in January.
Yup. Usually the week off follows the racing season or a big event. In the past has also coincided with a family trip / vacation like @Pbase.
When I start back up I take a few weeks and just ride (I mostly do MTB). I “ride because I love it, not because I have to.” I try to build up volume gradually (though admittedly sometimes get excited, feel good and probably ramp up too quickly). After the first week of riding I introduce one low PL workout a week (to get the rust off) and increase the long ride duration a bit (no monster rides yet). The workout feels uncomfortable, but not hard. When I get the itch to crank up the workouts I know I’m ready to get back into training.
Wk 1: Off
Wk 2: Just miles and social rides
Wk 3: Easy 30-30s or sweet spot. Enough to sweat but not much harder.
Wk 4: Another week (or two if I need it).
Wk 5: Back into it… bottom of the ramp though.
I knew guys back in the day who after a marathon that would take a month off after the race (granted these were 5 min/mi guys and destroyed themselves in training) That’s an extreme… but everyone I knew took at least a week off after the season. But we trained really, really hard. The training was not sustainable without it and always welcomed.