Words by Coach Dana
October is upon us, which for most roadies means, the off-season. A time to take a step back from competition and spend time with family and attend to our non-cycling lives. But even as we put away that skinsuit (quietly praying that we will be svelte enough to wear it again in the spring) for gym shoes, and those race wheels for those heavier (and less sexy) training wheels, we cannot help but reflect upon the season that was.
For some of us, it may have been a season of great accomplishment, while others may be left to wonder what went wrong. Too often, I find that talented athletes fall victim to the affects of “negative thinking” and set up mental blocks that prevent them from achieving their goals. And while training the body is a key component of success, it is also important to train the mind. The power of training the positive mindset is not to be undervalued. Remember the Most Important Six Inches.
Depending upon your goals or aspirations, this may also be a good time to consider getting a coach to help get you to the next level. A number of clients come to Achieve PTC after feeling as though they have “plateaued” and are looking for the structure and support that a coach can provide.
Regardless of how your season went, this is the time to hit the pause button and reset for next season.
For Achieve Athletes, most of them will begin the season in the gym doing resistance training. This will be supplemented with a few hours of longer, unstructured riding. During this period we do very little intensity (although who can say no to the occasional city limit sign sprint?) to allow the body and the mind to recover ahead of the long season to come. However, even though the riding is considerably easier during this time of year, the body still experiences stress so it is important to follow a proper recovery strategy: Sleep, Hydration and Nutrition.
Sleep: (8 hrs per night). The easiest component of recovery, but also the one that most people neglect. Achieve recommends a solid 8hrs each and every night. The earlier you can get to sleep, the better. Shoot for 10pm. If when you read this you thought ‘it’s way too hard to get to bed by 10pm’, do yourself a favour and just repeat to yourself three time: ‘it’s easy to be in bed by 10pm’. You’ll be amazed how this small change in thinking will result in position actions.
Hydration: Recovery actually starts while you’re riding. Ideally, you don’t want to wait until you are thirsty to drink. The bigger deficit you reach, the longer it will take to recovery. Keep taking in fluids and nutrients as you ride. And don’t forget to drink throughout the day when you are at sitting and working.
Nutrition: As always, proper nutrition is key with lots of lean proteins, fruits and vegetables and a moderate amount of whole grains, as the foundation of a solid diet. Because the focus is on building strength and power of the leg muscles and core and improving the cardiovascular system, a careful restriction of simple carbohydrates is recommended. This is to avoid the dreaded “sugar spike.”
Here is a link to a favorite fall dish, Salmon, Roasted Vegetables and Spinach Salad.
The off season is also the perfect time to try some alternative approaches to optimal health. An example of this is nutritional cleansing. A number of Achieve athletes are practicing this and enjoying the benefits, including enhanced energy, mental clarity and sounder sleep.
However your season went and whatever your goals for next year, don’t forget to enjoy the off-season. Set aside some time for yourself, spend time with friends and family. Rediscover your love of bikes and bike riding. Next season will be upon us before you know it and you’ll back at it.