Many racers still subscribe to the age old adage of taking a complete rest in the Fall. I believe much of this is due to the lack of motivation after a long grueling season. Let’s face it, bike racing takes a lot out of you, especially mentally. The same adrenaline rush and focus that makes racing fun can be the same thing that makes you burn out by the time the fall comes around.
So how important is fall training? There is nothing wrong with taking a break, but I think that the fall and winter are excellent opportunities to get better as well. There is so many on and off the bike activities that can make you a better bike racer that it is a shame to waste too much of the year resting. The body is usually more ready than the mind to get back to work, so the issue isn’t about whether you can do it. Its whether you want to do it.
How do you get that motivation to work on the stuff that isn’t necessarily why you started racing your bike? (i.e. riding your bike) One good way is to hire a coach (hint, hint) but another is to find some activities that you can enjoy as well that work on the critical pieces of training that are so often neglected during the race season. Training your core, muscle tension, and flexibility can create a stronger base to begin your cycling season. Additionally, studies have shown that keeping VO2 max workouts in your training year-round can support your bodies overall adaptions in the long term.
Take that break, but also get ready to work this fall as a foundation to creating that even better season in 2013.