The biggest danger in the off-season isn’t loss of fitness, it’s the risk of overtraining brought on by the fear of losing fitness. Riders who are upgrading their racing category are especially at risk. They imagine how hard the next level will be and overcompensate by training hard. They cook themselves before the season even starts. “Flying in February, fried in July” is a real danger.
It’s normal to worry about losing your edge during the fall and winter. That’s a long time to go without racing, doing hard group rides or completing centuries. Riders get obsessed with whether they’re losing anaerobic power, time trialing ability and punch in the sprint.
But they also recognize the need for an aerobic base and increased strength from the weight room. And no matter how dedicated you are to the bike, cross-training provides a much-needed break from putting in the miles.
The best solution for adequate rest as well as training in winter? A long-range program designed both to take you to next spring with a solid base and also to put your mind at ease about your fitness. I outline such a plan in my RBR eBooks Off-Season Training for Roadies and Spring Training for Roadies.
Other coaches have approaches that differ a little or a lot from mine, but the important factor is whether you believe in the approach you’re undertaking. Once you make that leap of faith and commit to a schedule, follow it and relax. You’ll be flying next spring and summer when you want to be good on the bike.
Coach Fred Matheny is an RBR co-founder who has four decades of road cycling and coaching experience. He has written 14 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach Fred Matheny, including the classic Complete Book of Road Bike Training, which includes 4 eBooks comprising 250 pages of timeless, detailed advice and training plans. The Complete Book is one of the many perks of an RBR Premium Membership. Click to read Fred’s full bio.