Unless your going to nationals the end of the cyclocross season is almost here. It’s a sort of sad/relief combination of feelings; sad because this stuff is too darned fun and a relief because we don’t have to think about being ready for battle every week. The one very clear component though is the fact you’ll need to take a break after your season ends.
We call this the “transition period”. It generally lasts from 2 to 4 weeks depending on the extent of in-season training and racing. People that I work with who race bikes for a living are instructed to stay off the bike until they start longingly looking at it again. As counter-intuitive as it may sound, you need to give up a good portion of the fitness and form that you’ve worked so hard to achieve. Those who try to remain fit all year will not be as ready as they can be when it counts. Even worse, they are likely to experience physical and/or psychological burn out at some point.
As a coach I expect to have to reel in the new athletes that we work with. It’s rare that someone needs a kick in pants. Endurance athletes are so used to over-training that the first few recovery or transition weeks will completely freak them out! “Trust me, this works” is a common part of conversations related to this topic.
The transition period of your Annual Training Program is defined by a complete lack of structure. If you feel like taking a hike, riding, going for a ski….whatever, just get up and do it. Don’t look at power or heart rate. This is also a great time to eat whatever the heck you want. Keep an eye on your weight so that you don’t dig yourself a giant power to weight ratio hole, but no more than that.
Joe Friel uses a term called “Christmas star”. You’ll run into them over the winter for sure. They’ll be killing it in February to the point that by riding with them you may begin feeling nervous about your own fitness. They may also kill it at some criteriums in the spring. Wait though, because right when you start feeling awesome again they’ll be wondering why they chose this ridiculous sport….and then for them it’s downhill from there.
Good luck with your last CX races of 2014! Don’t leave an ounce of effort on the table.