Some cyclists can’t imagine the thought of being off their bikes for an extended period and dread the post-cycling season. They’re so accustomed to training and racing all year long that they are worried that they’d get bored. Or they’re afraid that they’d lose the gains they’ve achieved in the past months of intensive training.
But off-season doesn’t mean entirely ditching your bike and sitting around. It’s more of taking things slow so that you can recover physically and mentally. You can even use indoor training to help with any running you might want to do during the cycling off-season. We’ll get more into this shortly.
What are the best indoor cycling ideas to beat the post-season depression? Indoor and outdoor bike rides are certainly not off the table during the off-season. Engaging in other types of exercises and physical activities is also a good way to beat boredom while maintaining your overall fitness. Ensuring that you get enough rest during this time is crucial.
Before we get into details about beating the post-cycling season depression, let’s discuss what off-season is and the benefits of having one.
What is off-season or post-cycling season?
For those who are just new to cycling and don’t know what cycling seasons are, here’s a brief explanation.
Cycling season is the time when most cycling events happen. This may vary with the specific discipline. Road bike racing events typically run from spring to autumn while cyclocross events typically happen during fall and winter.
The off-season is when professional and amateur cyclists take a break from rigorous training and events. This is typically during autumn and winter when there are usually no bike events.
Why do you need an off-season?
Is off-season really necessary? Sure there may be no major racing events but you can continue riding indoors and outdoors if the weather permits, right?
Well, you can. But it may do more harm than good. There are solid reasons why professional cyclists take a break from intensive cycling training and activities.
Here are some of the benefits of taking a time off your bike.
To avoid burnout and overtraining
Having time away from your bike is important for your physical and mental health. Training hard all year long without observing proper recovery periods may result in overtraining syndrome.
Overtraining affects you physically. Instead of getting fit, you will observe a plateau or even a decline in your performance and fitness. You might feel chronically fatigued. You also increase your risk of injury or you can get sick more often because your immune system becomes strained.
While studies have shown that regular exercise can boost your mental health, too much of a good thing is bad. Long intensive training may lead to burnout and dampen your motivation. Overtraining syndrome may also make you feel anxious, depressed, or irritable. You may also have trouble concentrating.
All of the above can be avoided by having enough recovery period for the short term (in between sessions during your regular training season) and long term.
To come back stronger for the next cycling season
Time off your bike will give your body a chance to recover which could help improve your performance for your future events. This will also give you a chance to reset and recharge your mind and help you become more excited and motivated for your next training.
To condition other parts of your body
Repetitive pedaling develop your leg muscles but other parts of your body may be neglected as a result. For example, research shows that cycling alone doesn’t develop bone strength and may sometimes negatively impact bone density. This will increase your risk of injuries. Weight-bearing activities like walking and running help improve your bone density.
During the post-cycling season, you can use the time you’ve freed up from cycling training to work your other muscle groups and build overall strength.
How long is an off-season?
An off-season typically lasts a month. It can be longer if you went full force in the past months or shorter if just joined a few events. During this time, you need at least two weeks of getting off your bike entirely to completely recover from your cycling activities.
How to beat the post-season depression?
If you’re at a loss as to what to do with your free time during your off-season, here are some ideas.
Keep riding but don’t overdo it
The post-cycling season doesn’t mean giving up your bike during the whole period. You do need time off your bike for at least two weeks. After this, doing an endurance ride indoors for 90 minutes every 10 days or every two weeks will be enough to keep you from losing your gains without overstressing your body.
Strength training exercises will help you develop your core and build overall body strength. It also helps preserve muscle mass and protect bone health. It has also been shown to enhance coordination, balance, and posture which are all important for the average Jane and Joe but even more so for cyclists.
To be clear, strength training should always be part of a cyclist’s regimen. However, when training for peak biking events, strength training is not given priority most of the time.
During the off-season, you can use the time to focus more on strengthening your muscles and bones. You can do bodyweight exercises such as planks, push-ups, and pull-ups or weight lifting (bicep curls, deadlift, bench presses).
Other physical activities
Maybe you’ve always been interested or used to enjoy other physical activities but never got around to doing them because of all the time spent on training and participating in events.
The off-season is the perfect time for you to do hiking, rock climbing, skiing, or whatever it is you’re interested in. Moving your legs in a different way and engaging your other muscles during any physical activity (other than cycling) will help correct muscle imbalances.
Rest and relax
We’ve given suggestions as to the activities you can do during your downtime. But don’t forget the most important part of it all–resting.
Make sure you get enough sleep. Catch up on your favorite shows. Spend a relaxing time with your family and friends.
Cycling is a challenging sport and it takes time, dedication, and a lot of hard work. But don’t forget your life outside of it. Enjoy your off-season. You deserve it.
Summing It Up
Taking some time off your bike brings many benefits such as avoiding overtraining and burnout, and recovering physically and mentally. It is also a time when you can build your overall strength, and improve some of your weaknesses. Lastly, the off-season gives you an opportunity to relax and enjoy life with your friends and family.
How can you recover from overtraining? Pause strenuous physical activities to allow your body to rest completely. Ensure that you have adequate water intake and proper nutrition to support your recovery. Practice deep breathing and other relaxation techniques to help improve your mental well-being.
Is cross-training good for cyclists? Cross-training provides great benefits to cyclists. As mentioned, cycling tends to focus on one group of muscles doing one repetitive action. Doing other exercises that build other upper body strength as well as engaging the lower body for other types of movement will help cyclists attain more balanced fitness.
Is yoga good for cyclists? Cycling may cause stiffness in some muscles for doing the same movement over and over. Doing yoga may help maintain flexibility for cyclists and can also help in building overall strength. If yoga is too intimidating, regular stretching exercises can do a lot to help prevent strain and tight muscles from cycling.
Can cycling help in weight loss? Indoor and outdoor cycling are aerobic activities that can help you lose weight. It is relatively easy on the joints so it is a good way to start getting fit.