Friday, November 16, 2012

The Winter Months and Off-Season Training

It's that time of the year when colder weather (cold being relative to where you live!) and the time change makes it far less desirable to ride outdoors. And, with the holidays around the corner, our attentions begin to turn towards time with family and less about time with the bike.

However, weather, time and the holidays do not need to be inhibitors to staying on the bike. When I lived in the Northeast, the thought of riding indoors was painful. I hated it. What could be more boring than spending 45 minutes to an hour sweating and going nowhere?

Unfortunately, for many of us, that is the reality with work, family, holidays, etc. It is important, no matter where you live, to make sure you get time on the bike. Unless you've spent the year training and racing at a high level, the need for time off or recovery should not be a consideration. What should be a consideration is to minimize the loss of what you've built this year.

When I was racing on the US National Team, I remember reading that a day or two off here and there was good for the body. However, anything more than that and you started losing cardio fitness at a rather substantial rate. I do not recall the percentage but was very surprised to say the least about how much is lost by taking just three days off!

If the thought of riding indoors is not appealing or your work schedule makes it difficult to ride outdoors, there are other activities that you can do to maintain fitness. Swimming is a great exercise, not only for your cardiovascular system but also for your upper body. Running, although high impact, is another great activity (even better if you can do it on trails).

If you still desire to get out on your bike, then do so! Enjoy the ride, take in the scenery, find some friends to go out with and make it a social occasion. No need to hammer, those days will come all too soon. Just sit on the bike and enjoy.

I'll continue to talk about other off-season activities that you can do to get ready for next year. Maintain now so that it won't take as long to get back to where you were at the end of this season.

Have a great week everyone!

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