January may be the toughest month for a coach with racers that live in a decent climate. It is too early to be going too hard, clearly. However, the racer is getting pretty excited about the season. The new kit shows up, they are at team meetings discussing season goals and team training rides resume. It is rare to find a client who has all this stimulus and can have the mature perspective of its only January. Of course, it is even tougher in places that start racing this early and continue to race until November.
So naturally, clients begin judging their training as if they were mid race season. Luckily, I don’t believe in the traditional long base only period and build periods that were mandatory 10-20+ years ago. I think some level of intensity is critical for the amateur racer to maintain and improve for throughout the off season. Should a racer be going at their ultimate potential in January? Of course not. But their ought to be room and even prescribed work at VO2, sprint and LT levels in the early months on the year. This will allow the body to build these important energy systems and form, while also working on that critical base in a way that does not over tax the entire system.
If you’re one of the early season hungry racers. Go get, just keep in mind that you need to consider the entire season and the importance of base, build and form. So get after it in moderation so that you can go ALL in when it matters most, during race season.