With the Australian winter now on its way there tends to be a lull in the domestic race calendar and for many athletes it is a great time to take a break. The ‘Off Season’ is definitely a necessary phase for athletes to schedule into their Season plan in,
The period of time spent in the off Season phase will depend on a number of factors. If an athlete has been building fitness for a major goal race over a long period of time and there are no more goal races for quite a while, then the athlete will benefit from an extended time away from the bike. Sometimes up to a month is necessary. As an example, the top GC riders, who have trained for the Tour De France each year, generally take quite an extended break following the Tour, necessitated by a lengthy build-up and then a massive over-load during the event itself. on the other hand, athletes who have targeted several goal events scattered throughout the year usually benefit more from regular ‘mini-breaks’ of a week or two following each of these goal races. This approach works well for those athletes who race both the Domestic Season as well as heading overseas for the International season or who have 2-3 goal races spaced through the year. The off Season is a perfect time to catch up on all the things you might normally not have the time and/or energy for. For the younger athletes that I coach this will quite often serve as time to ‘let their hair down’ a little and get out to some of those late night parties, without having to get up for an early morning training session the following day. For some of the older athletes it might simply serve as more quality time with the family. regardless of what you choose to do during your off Season, in my opinion it is an important part of your annual plan, necessary to recharge batteries and get that motivation going for the following Season. Following a period of time completely off the bike, it is best to schedule in another period of time easing back into things slowly and including a lot less structure than normal. Most coaches will call this phase of training ‘General Preparation’. A good indicator of when it is time to start on this phase is when an athlete gets to the point of actually missing their bike and craving that feeling of pushing the body once again.