Autumn Down Time

Before you get into this article and start shouting at the computer, I am NOT telling you to not ride your bike when you want to!

Now we got that clear……

For the racers amongst you, it is probably the end of the season.  Behind you is a long summer of racing, travelling, training and hard work as well as loads of fun and good times.  Many of you will be thinking about next season already and making plans for your training, improved fitness, new bikes and general race domination.  That is cool and it shows you are passionate about racing your MTB and I am giving you a big high-5 for your attitude.

However…… the start of October is too soon to start winter training.

After an intense season you need time to relax mentally and physically and let your body recover from the demands of the season before.  If you go straight into your winter training plan now you are probably going to burn out and be sick of riding and training by June, just when the season is getting into full swing.  It is different for everybody, and depends on where you live and at what level you are racing, but as a general rule you should look to start some sort of structured low intensity training in November or December.

Obviously if the weather is great then go and ride your bike with your buddies, but make sure it is not too hard and make sure it is for fun.  Turn off the HR monitor, the Garmin or the Strava.  Who cares?!  Just have fun.  It is also a great time to do other sports and to enjoy the outdoors on foot at a more relaxed pace.  Keep active, go swimming, hill walking, climbing, play football, ride BMX at the skate park, go for a run, it really does not matter!  Just chill, enjoy nature and don’t worry about training or racing.

If you have taken a month or 2 out from proper training, with only weekly rides with mates and a few other sports or days out in the hills then when you do start your training programme you should feel refreshed, energised and ready to commit your body and mind 100% to your goals for the next season.  You are also less likely to peak too soon and burn out like the rider who trained right through and started doing intervals in October.  That rider may be quick for the first race of the season but probably won’t last the distance.

For many racers there is always that worry about what other racers are doing.  “Do you think Dave xxxx has started training yet?  I really want to beat him, so I am going to start training a week before him!”  For a start the fastest racers will ALL be relaxing and taking a break right now and even if one or 2 are on a different programme, does it matter?  You need to go into the season as well prepared as possible, and that means taking time out now.

The final thing I will add to this is more personal but still really important.  Many of you will place demands on your friends and family to support you through your race season and whilst you are in intense training.  Whether that is missed family gatherings, your wife driving you to the trails, your parents paying for your bike and race entries, there is usually some sacrifice by somebody close to you.  Now is the time to spend some time together, thank them for the help, catch up with people and restore a bit or normality (normal does not have to be boring!) to your life.  Let them know that their help is valued and do something they want to do instead, even if that means going to Ikea on a Saturday instead of riding!  I know it all sounds a bit sensitive and some of you are probably wondering if you have wandered onto the wrong website, but having a stable home and personal life is super important to the success of any athlete.

Chill out and stay strong.