After the last competition has been contested, the question arises: continue riding or put the bike in the cellar? Our training expert Christoph Lörcks advises: to shut down the sport planned and do something different.
At the end of September and the beginning of October most of the road riders compete in their last competitions of the year. For shorter road races, it is often a good idea to reduce the amount of training already in this phase, especially since the fun of hours of training is diminished for some drivers. With shorter training sessions of two to three hours in the GA1 range and sometimes also somewhat faster training sessions in the GA2 range around two hours, the form can be kept quite well for the last weeks. Due to the high load of the previous months this method often works better than continuing extensive training. Also short intervals in the development area and short sprints of six to ten seconds can be built in very effectively in this training phase.
For some hobby sportsmen and women, however, there are still some highlights to come at the end of the season. The Münsterland Giro, for example, does not take place until the third of October - a real must for many amateur riders. Here you have to weigh up - especially if you want to cover the long distances of up to 160 km - exactly how far the Basic endurance is constructed and stable. Drivers with a high level of performance can certainly proceed as described above. Athletes with a lower performance level should better build in at least one long basic unit in the competition distance in the weeks before.
After the last race the transition phase will start. In the past, many cyclists used to put the bike in the basement and only took it out again after months, training very little or not at all during this phase. However, I recommend a different approach to my athletes - at hobby and professional level. The first two weeks of the transition phase I usually design completely free for the athlete, without any specifications. If the athlete wants to train on the bike, then a maximum of two hours GA1 and that at most three to four times a week. But it is best not to get on the bike at all for two weeks. After months of often extensive training on the bike, it is important to gain some distance. However, I recommend that athletes turn to other sports, such as team sports or sports with a high coordination component.
This is especially important for the pros with their extreme circumferences, but there are also hobby riders who train 15 to 20 hours a week on the bike. So if you prefer not to cycle at all for two weeks, you should do so. The body usually sends out very good signals. If you don't feel like training at all, then maybe the body just needs a longer recovery phase.
It's going well
Once the two weeks are over, you can slowly get back into structured training. But even in this phase you don't have to do regular cycling units. Quiet endurance runs are completely sufficient. But be careful - don't develop too much ambition. The body is not used to longer running units if you have not run regularly during the season. So don't immediately hire the marathon runner from the neighbourhood as a new training partner - we don't want to get into running, we just want to do something for the cardiovascular system. Running is very effective for this, because it takes much less time than normal basic training on the bike. Runs between 30 and 45 minutes are optimal for the beginning; later you can slowly orientate yourself towards 60 to 90 minutes. If you overdo it, however, overloading and pain can be the result, so you should always check whether jogging causes any problems. The most common places of overloading are the shin muscles and the knees; pain in the hips or back is also an alarm signal - and if this sounds, you must immediately reduce the circumference or stop training altogether.
Especially for sportsmen and women in their normal working life, it is hardly possible to cycle during the week in autumn and winter. It is also not everyone's cup of tea to do the whole period from mid-October to March with roller training; therefore it can be very effective to include even more running training - especially during the week - in the transition period (October) and in the preparation period 1 (November/December). In the preparation period 1, the running training can be supplemented by short roll units which focus only on motor development (cadence). Very good results can be achieved with this. Overall, however, there should not be too much endurance during the entire transition period. It is still a matter of compensating for the stresses and strains of the season and to regenerate completely.
Please switch off!
Another very important factor is mental relaxation. Regular training, competition stress and often also pressure to perform - whether from outside or self-imposed - have left their mark on her. The transition phase is the right time to let all this go. The often strict eating habits and the renunciation of evening celebrations (when a competition is due the next day) also lead to stress, even if often unnoticed. This is not so important in the transition phase. You shouldn't constantly go overboard with your diet, but now and again, even for professionals, it's perfectly okay in this phase.
In training, you can now devote yourself to areas that may have been neglected during the season. The training of the trunk musculature, for example, is repeatedly underestimated by cyclists. Ensuring the ability to work under pressure is an essential basis for a successful performance build-up and for general performance.
Of course, this must be avoided at all costs. If you have perhaps already had problems during the season, you should analyse them specifically (whether on your own or with the support of an expert) and tackle them specifically.
Starting with the preparation period 1 in November an appropriate training should be planned in the training schedule.
Finding causes of pain
Many cyclists have minor or major problems with their sitting position. During the season you should only make small changes here; now, however, you can try it out safely. But you should document the previous settings of the bike in a dimensional map, so that you can follow the changes and restore the old position if necessary. As mentioned, many problems have muscular or orthopaedic causes. A healed collarbone fracture, for example, can lead to poor posture, which then has other consequences. Here, the help of an expert is often necessary to find a real solution, as the causes are often not visible to the layperson.
How did the season go? Where were strengths and where were weaknesses? What were the causes? Sounds simple, but very few athletes analyse their season effectively and use the results for further action. I recommend that you always do this reflection in writing, because now everything is still present. However, over time the impressions become blurred and are only perceived in a blurred way.
Then you should think about what you want to achieve in the coming season and how you can achieve these goals. These ideas should be further developed and fixed as concretely as possible. Extensive winter training is much easier when you have clear goals in mind.
How have you trained so far? It's often frightening to me how many cyclists simply cycle to achieve their goals; even professionals often train only very intuitively. An individually tailored training plan can be much more effective, and not only for competitive athletes. The work of XP Sport - Training Systems shows that especially for hobby athletes a professional and individual training planning is often very effective. Due to the professional and private environment, many hobby athletes can rarely train according to sample plans from books - individualisation and adaptation to the time budget are required; if this works, extreme performance increases are often the reward. Hobby athletes who have been training extensively for years have been able to achieve an increase in performance of over 20 percent within a year by changing their training (measured by the IANS performance in watts). With other athletes, we were able to maintain the performance level despite a reduction in the amount of training by almost 30 percent - more was no longer possible for professional reasons. This shows how little effectively many cyclists train - and that a training control system is much more effective than a new carbon wheelset for 1500,- Euro.