Autumn is in full swing and the weather is staying cooler, it’s staying dark longer, and the thrill of riding my bike is being weighed against burrowing back into my down comforter for another hour (or more on the weekends). I have to be honest here friends – it’s becoming difficult to get up early in the morning to ride my bike.
Fear not, my good reader – I haven’t thrown in the towel for the year yet!
My casual rides are going to be gradually diminishing over the next month or so. I still have a fall foliage ride scheduled in two weekends and will be riding with friends to the Philly Bike Expo (I’ll be volunteering at the BCP booth – come say hi).
I’m planning to keep on bike commuting. It’s fun and I really do enjoy it once I’m up and dressed and sipping my coffee. My ability to actually bike commute is hindered by other employment and familial obligations – I am the assistant leader to my daughter’s Girl Scout troop and my husband and I both travel for business. So I’m looking at other opportunities – perhaps I ride to the train station that’s a bit further from my house but totally achieveable in regular clothing – to keep riding (albeit at a significantly reduced distance).
And when a rare unscheduled day comes up, it’s delicious to indulge in sloth. Sleeping in, relaxing in my pajamas and reading a newspaper (gasp!) while enjoying my morning coffee is a most excellent moment. I try not to think about how I really should be riding my bike.
Which may not be a bad thing! I just got this email newsletter from my favorite Center City bike shop, Breakaway Bikes:
You Have Permission to Stop Training
We’ve hit October and for just about all multi-sport athletes and road cyclists our seasons are over. Some of you might be mourning the end of competition, while some of you are excited about adding those training hours back to your week. Regardless of your personal position, this is the time to let go and put your training to the backburner for a few months. I know the reality of not training can be anxiety inducing; but, trust me, you’ll be better off for it. Here are just a few things I want you to keep in-mind as you head into your off-season.
1. Rest: You had a great season. You trained your butt off, your fitness skyrocketed, so you believe that you’ll keep improving if you keep training. Right? Wrong! Your body and mind need time to recover from the stresses of a long season. Think about how sleep is your body’s way of recovering from the stress of the day; an extended break allows your body to recover from months of training and competition. If you fail to give yourself enough time to rest, you’re signing-up for some serious early season burnout next year.
I usually recommend that people take at least two-weeks completely off from their sport. Yes, put your bike, goggles, and running shoes in the corner and don’t even look at them. This might be hard, but I know you can do it. Instead of working out, find some other activity to fill that time. Training got a lot of your attention during the season; now it’s time to let some of the other parts of your life have you back. Believe it or not, taking a break will actually be laying the foundation for training in the upcoming season. Start to integrate other forms of activity back after those two-weeks. Coach Charlie would usher in the off-season with the quote, “you’ve got to get slow to go fast.” These are words to live by during this time of the year. You’ll be back to training soon, so enjoy the break.
2. Eat: Did you regularly pass on dessert during the summer? How about your favorite dish? If so, it’s time to indulge a bit. Please note that I said a bit. You were meticulous during the season when it came to your food. You managed portion sizes and balancing your nutritious meals. I don’t want you to forsake your good eating habits; I just want you to be a little less regimented. It’s ok to add a few off-season pounds, just don’t go too crazy.
3. Cross Train: You took your time away and now you want some activity. Use the off-season to find other ways to stay active. Our sports are very muscle group specific and repetitive in motion. I mean, think about how repetitive pedaling a bike can be. Find activities that will challenge opposing muscle groups. It really doesn’t matter what the activity is, just find something that’s fun and keeps you active and motivated: run, swim, play soccer, golf, walk, rock climb, or go to the gym. Your sport will still be there when you come back.
4. Miss it: A lot of people will ask when they should start back to their sport and I think that can vary for many people. I personally tell people to use a mental test. Do you genuinely miss your sport and are you excited to get back to it? If you can honestly answer ‘yes,’ then it’s time to bring your sport back to your life. I want you to be excited to do your sport and not have it feel like a chore. If riding your bike or going to swim feels like an obligation, you’re not ready. This is the off-season, this isn’t the time to make yourself workout. I think this time of the year is great because you get to rediscover why you fell in-love with your sport…..because it’s fun. Just remember that this is the off-season, so keep the intensity low.
This is just my $.02 on a positive way to approach the offseason. I know the pressure to just stay on the gas, but remember that rest and recovery are just as important as any workout.
See you on the road!