Whether you are well past the end of your season like some of the mountain and road racers or perhaps you are focused on cross and are working on building fitness towards the early races. In any case, it is important to ensure you have assessed your season, taken some rest and done some testing before resuming training and racing.
I have gone between several different end of season forms, interviews and surveys over the years. Different systems work for different people. Depending on the client I will mostly use the questions on this 'end of season form' for existing clients and the Athlete Intake Form for clients looking to get started training with Smart Athlete. Often I will meet a client in person or via skype to fill out the intake form together while having a conversation (book a skype consult) Both of these forms serve to a) collect information about you b) give you a chance to reflect on your past season (and past experiences) c) Set some goals for the upcoming season and give me some feedback on how I can help you better achieve your goals.
This is one of the hardest things to do. Indeed, when I look back on my ~15 years of racing elite mountain bikes (yikes!) my resistance to taking 1-2 weeks off the bike and 'purposeful' exercise held me back from further gains. Athletes I work with generally struggle with taking TOO MUCH or NO time off. Generally I recommend taking the week after your last big race right off, there might even be a race on the weekend of that week off but you can't touch your bike or exercise (often you end up with a really good race during the off week!). This week off gives you a chance to build back motivation, recover energy, and get any therapy or check-ups that are needed.
Once you are ready to start doing any sort of motivated training it is important to get some rough baselines so you can track improvement and better decide what type of training you need. I will often test right after the A-Race if the athlete is motivated and we are lacking in power numbers from the A-priority race or the weeks prior so we know how fit they were for the results they got at the A-Race. If we have numbers from the weeks prior or the athlete needs a break then we will wait and test only as we resume training. I like to use a short hill test, a longer 'threshold' test and then a sub-max test for aerobic ability, in many cases just the aerobic test gives us a 'low-stress' way to gauge fitness and limitations.
For many athletes the best way to test is to get a 'lab' test to ensure the data collected is valid and to boost motivation. Smart Athlete uses a power based testing protocol that assess how your working muscles use oxygen. Adding muscle oxygen to a power test lets us get a better idea of whether you are limited by supply of oxygen or use of oxygen--which guides how we would train! The 1 hour test is also a very effective way to have your on-bike position, pedaling motion, breathing mechanics and, of course, your power production.
*read more and book tests here - or reply to this email to inquire*
Taking time off is important but it is VERY important not to give up a healthy 'human' lifestyle (walk, don't sit a ton, sleep a ton, eat LOTS of veggies). It is also important to resume 'actual Training" within 10-14 days unless over-training, illness or injury requires attention. Off-Season should be a time where we start rebuilding our body to be stronger for the next season. Starting 'aerobic' training at a low level in several sports is important as race season often leaves room for improvement at low intensities. Intervals and strict zones are not required but aiming for a number of hours, variety in sport and lots of fun is a good way to spend our first month back training. Off-season should also be a time to improve body-composition, if not already in the ideal range, and also to address any skill deficits experienced during your competitions or riding.
Some examples of how to use your first month back training:
1) Learn to bunny hop - important if you get rear flats frequently, damage wheels or take B-Lines, or hear a lot of 'bashing' -> 5 steps video here
2) Improve nutrition - many master's aged clients have a few extra pounds that make any gains we make on the trainer difficult to leverage -> fill out the New Client Intake or the End of Season Review (for current clients) to start the nutritional consultation 3) start the 'any-where' core routine -> start slow and aim for 3 x 20 min sessions per week. Start early so you can progress slowly without much soreness or injury *check out the anywhere core routine*
This is a rough but well proven way to handle your end of season and progress to 'off-season' training. If you have questions about how these ideas apply to your specific goals, limiters and abilities I would love to chat or, better yet, chat while you pedal during an on-bike assessment so we can collect lots of data and decide where your time is best spent.