Here’s a little advice from Evan, our clothing buyer and avid triathlete, on how to get through the down-time of winter. Don’t forget, one of the the best ways to stay in shape through the off-season is to put in some maintenance miles on a trainer. This year’s crop of trainer’s from Blackburn and Cycle Ops look great, and will keep you in shape, ready to go when the roads thaw out.
“I used to have trouble enjoying the off-season. As soon as my last race ended marking the conclusion of my season, I would start thinking about my next race, which would be several months away. I used to have to force myself to take time off the bike.
One unfortunate season that ended in burn-out sparked a monumental shift in my psyche. Now-a-days, I cherish the off-season and embrace it as a period of rest, recovery and flat-out laziness. I usually take two weeks after my last race of the year for complete rest. Those two weeks usually fly by as I reflect on my season and map out some goals for next year. After those two weeks, I begin the gradual process of easing my way back into training mode.
I’ll ride slow with friends with no set route or destination. I try to ignore my watch and cyclometer and just enjoy being active. This is the phase I’m in right now, and it’s interesting to note the psychological and physiological changes that occur.
My appetite is about a fourth of what it was when I was training 15-20 hours a week. I used to bring grocery bags full of food to work with me because I would constantly graze and snack to appease my incessant appetite. Now, I occasionally skip lunch without even realizing it. The irony is that since I stopped training with the unwavering vigor necessary to race at an elite level, I have actually lost weight.
Eventually, I will gain it back. Right around Thanksgiving, I’ll start to notice a little belly forming where there used to be a chiseled six-pack. I will compete with my brother in our annual contest of who can gain the most weight on Thanksgiving Day. He’s won the last three years in a row, with an unbreakable record of over five pounds in a five-hour period. The most amazing part about it is that he’s a vegetarian!
My advice for anyone struggling with the off-season blues is to pick up a new sport. Whether it’s competitive eating with siblings, cyclo-cross, or adventure racing, having a sport to fuel your athletic ambitions is always positive. If you have already mastered the art of the off-season, I say congratulations. The rest you get now will help when you start piling on the miles to build a strong base for your season.
Don’t be so focused on racing that you lose sight of why you do it in the first place – to have fun. Enjoy some rest, gain some weight, and you’ll come back next year stronger and more focused than ever.”