Fall can be tough if you have raced or ridden all year. In many areas, you can race or ride a bike all year thanks to Cyclocross, track, fat bike and indoor smart trainers. I get many questions about burnout, motivation, and questions like ‘what does it all mean and do I have to race Cyclocross?’ this time of year. This episode of the Canadian Cycling Magazine podcast asked me about ‘what if you just aren’t into cyclocross’
If you are asking if you should take time off, struggling with motivation, nursing an injury or feeling slow/low-energy … take a week off (or two!). Yes, even if the weather is great.
My strategy does not need to be yours but I offer it as a way that has let me race moderately well for many (too many?) years and one that I see modeled by the best/most consistent athletes I work with.
In September after the last race (often provincials) I don’t ride for a week, no bikes no matter the weather. After this last week off, I want to be REALLY motivated to ride. This full week off maybe 1-4 weeks off depending on if I am sick, injured or really drained from a long season of racing. When in doubt take more time completely off the bike.
What do you do with the time away from the bike?
It is very hard to go from a routine of riding, training and working hard. We all get hooked on the feeling of finishing a ride, run or workout. There is also a matter of how you fill your day! Sometimes these weeks away from the bike are a good barometer on how we are doing on the other aspects of life (that are important). Spend time on family, friends, getting doctors checkups, nap/sleep more, go for walks and catch up on your bike maintenance! Remind yourself daily that it is good to be bored!
Ease back – really slow!
Then in the 2-4 weeks after the time completely off the bike I will ride but will not do intervals, all rides are fun rides with no pushing of motivation, energy, or duration. These rides are best with friends and also guided by technical aspects I want to improve. These also often include Cyclocross practice, cyclocross coaching, and downhilling, which are great fun and often leave me wanting to train more. Often there are a few fun events that are more social, like the Pulse Racing 8-hour relay (~2hrs riding spread over the day) with Trek Store for fun.
I also ease into strength and running more to prepare to be consistent during the bad weather ahead and make sure to respect any injuries or health concerns I had during the year. I have an ‘anywhere core’ routine that I start many athletes with that is low on gear, quick to do. See Anywhere CORE video.
I work on cleaning up and prepping my equipment and selling anything that needs to be sold. I read a bunch and spend some time reflecting on the season and what is next with racing and training … and life. With clients, this can be a formal season assessment and goal setting process and/or a phone consult or in-person meeting to go over these concepts.
I spend time on eating good food reducing any supplements/high-calorie food since the training load is lower. Fuel Your Ride is a great book for off-season reading to make some small tweaks to your nutrition strategy. We eat mostly at home but also some extra date and social nights. We also watch a lot of Cyclocross racing!
So all that to say … have fun this fall and make sure you take some downtime. It is an important part of your year.
If you need help fitting it all in and balancing training/racing/work/ family that is what I have done with Smart Athlete Coaching for the last 15 years – Book a phone Consult to discuss your personal situation and goals