Off-Season Recovery and Rejuvenation


BY MIKE FREEMAN

If you had a successful season of competition and training, and I hope that you have, then you have realized that recovery is the key. All good training and racing hinge on it. Recovery during the season must be of a lighter workload to allow for repair and rebuilding, but end-of-season recovery can be even more important. You are recovering from the physical aspects of your training and competition, and the mental ones as well.

The physical is easy—you slow down, cross-train, and enjoy the world around you. The mental is a little tougher. Taking time off, relaxing, and enjoying other aspects of your sport are all necessary and beneficial. There were years that I didn’t back off at all at the end of the racing season. It didn’t catch up with me right away, but I was in a pretty deep hole by March or April.

The younger you are, the more time off you can enjoy. Older athletes need to maintain a higher level of fitness during the off-season. It’s too hard for us “old guys” to come back from extended periods rest! I have to maintain my fitness level at about 70% of my mid-season level during the off-season. This commitment is a fine line to walk, but it’s a struggle to come back the following season if I don’t.

I ride my mountain bike a bit more during the off-season, if only for some variety after a long season of road cycling, training, and racing. I still ride the road and am lucky that I can do this just about year-round. However, I have to be careful not to overtrain, so I try to limit myself to one day per week of intense riding during the off-season. I still ride for base miles and endurance, and I tend to ignore mileage and substitute hours instead. I usually ride about 16 hours per week during the season. During the off-season, it’s closer to 10–12 hours. (Translated to miles, that’s roughly 125–150/week.)

I usually get back in the gym on the first of November. My goals are to improve general strength, in order to minimize lower back injuries. Here is what my personal 10-week program looks like, designed for off-season strengthening.

WEEK 1–2
Goal: Transition, acclimatization, neuromuscular, facilitation
Frequency: 3 days/week
Intensity: Low
Duration: 1 hour max

WEEK 3-6
Goal: Base strength
Frequency: 3 days/week
Intensity: Moderate
Duration: 1–1¼ hours max

WEEK 7-10
Goal: Strength, Power
Frequency: 3 days/week
Intensity: Moderate/High
Duration: 1–1¼ hours max

Plan now for a well-earned “time-out” this year, and you might just enjoy your best year yet come spring!

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