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Post-season break – Why you should take one, when and how?

After a long season of training and racing it is important both mentally and physically to take a break from structured training. Have a vacation from your training plan!

Most athletes intuitively understand a break is a healthy and productive thing to take but don’t want to give up hard earned fitness gains from the season. We get this question frequently in the fall!

Athlete Question

“I had an amazing season training really hard and exceeded all my racing goals. I feel I should take some recovery now but I hate giving up any fitness and missing the nice fall weather. Winter is right around the corner. I also know I need to be back to a structured training program in December, January at the latest. I don’t feel too burned out from the season, should I still take a break, if so how long a break should I take and how should I time it? Also, should I be ‘lazy’ during the break or be active still doing other physical activities?”

Coach Lynda Answer

Take at least one week off the bike after your peak race as a post-season break if you are healthy and don’t feel burned out. Make this a very low key recovery week where you relax, get a massage and sleep a lot. If you are overly tired and mentally exhausted you may need 6 weeks off.

Next, enjoy the fall weather and do all those routes and rides you missed out on during the season when they didn’t fit perfectly into your training plan. Most mountain bike racers enjoy adventures on their bikes, so pack a lunch and go exploring with friends!

Stay active during your post-season break and set yourself up for higher performance next season with some of the following:

  • Rehab any injuries.
  • Improve your technical ride skills with a class, lesson, camp or practice.
  • Explore your region to find new training locations. Find that perfect 20 min hill for intervals!
  • Cross-train with other sports such as rock climbing, hiking, water sports etc.
  • Start a strength training routine in the gym.
  • Improve body composition and lose weight if you are more than 10 lbs over your optimum race weight for men or 7 lbs for women
  • Strengthen any weaknesses.
  • Stretch any tight muscles and balance your body.
  • Make any major equipment changes such as a new bike, pedals, seat, bike position, smart trainer, power meter or other device. This low key time is ideal to adapt to new things and learn how they work.
  • Get any dental work done if needed.
  • Get any other medical issue that needs recovery time taken care of.
  • Take care of any physical labor or domestic chores you put off during the season. Time to stain that deck?
  • Give extra time and attention to your support crew – you know the people who you depend on in-season.

Take advantage of your downtime. Nobody has time to read in a cracked-out race season. Less riding = time to learn stuff

  • Learn a new skill that will help you once the season starts such as yoga or how to wrench on your bike.
  • Meditate. Try the Headspace app
  • Feed your mind by reading.

Wrap up your race season doing things a little differently to start next season fresh and eager!