What happens during the “offseason” for cyclists? I like to divide my “offseason” into phases. It is not all rest and vacationing; instead, it includes some of the longest rides and most hours logged in a week for the year. Everyone’s offseason and season vary, but my offseason can be divided into a couple of distinct phases: time off the bike completely, a slow and flexible restart week or two on the bike, endurance miles, endurance with structured intervals, and then team camp and top-end work right before the season starts.
My time off the bike was spent at team meetings in the Netherlands for the first week and then another two weeks at my university in Tennessee. I go into every offseason with the idea I am going to go hiking, exploring, and do so much during my time off the bike, but instead, it usually ends up being a little bit of that and a whole lot of hanging out with friends, going to coffee shops, enjoying the freedom of not having to do school every free minute I have, cooking, baking, and a whole lot of sleeping. I sometimes feel more tired during this period for some reason, but during this time off the bike, I want to make sure at the end, I can’t wait to get back on my bike and start training again. It is vital to acknowledge the mental stress incurred during a racing season. Your body is recovering during this period off the bike, and your mind also needs to rest and reset for the coming season. Having the right mindset going into a new season and maintaining it is critical. If by the time you are supposed to start riding your bike again and you are not thrilled to get back on it or still feel mentally unprepared, it would be wise to maybe extend your time off for another week or so.
The next phase is a slow restart week or two that is unstructured and includes some rides here and there. It is all about getting the body used to pedalling and sitting on a bike again.
From there, the focus shifts to endurance. I don’t like to call it structure, but there is some structure during endurance as the upper limits that you ride in are restricted. Endurance is about doing long, easy rides that push your aerobic capacities. This usually is during the middle of winter, so it is important to stay warm and keep your rides exciting by trying new routes, finding good playlists and podcasts, or riding with friends. After a couple of weeks of endurance, intervals usually are integrated into the training. These vary greatly, but they are still about building your “engine,” as people like to call it. The last part of offseason before racing starts is filled with team camps in warm places and intense intervals to find the top end speed again. Throughout the offseason, gym work is integrated into each phase also.
With it being winter during the offseason, people need to consider where they live and want to train. Many people travel to warmer places to train if their current location is not ideal for outdoor training during this time. I spent most of my time at my university as it is not a valid excuse to miss classes because it is cold outside for training. However, during winter break, I did squeeze in some training in Arizona before going home to my parents for Christmas.
With no racing and required travel, I was able to have time to hang out with friends, go to coffee shops, try new recipes, and focus on school with less stress, which is always a bonus.
Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and I hope you enjoyed it! Keep up with me through my instagram page @meganjastrab. Wishing you all the best,