Another cycling season has come and gone. You trained and maybe even raced a bunch and now you have lots of results, data and some experiences to reflect on. The key to effective off-season training and especially to long-term development is to enjoy the process and keep doing things that work, while also learning from mistakes.
The following questions can help make those connections as you reflect on last year and get training for next season:
DID YOU HAVE FUN?
When reflecting on training and racing, it’s important to make sure you had fun. After all, we ride because we love it. Sure, we train seriously, but if we enjoy at least some of our weekly workouts, then we are likely going to keep coming back for more.
If you find you are going through the motions after many seasons of doing the same thing, it might be time to switch your discipline — from road to gravel, mountain biking to cyclocross, etc. — or race series, which is normal and OK! If you find workouts are becoming a grind, it might be time to talk to your coach, switch coaches (or training plans), get a coach or simply double-check you are including a workout or two each week that is fun and provides some variation in your routine.
WHAT WENT WELL?
When did you feel awesome? When did you feel most competent?
Your answers to these questions are clues to what events you should do more often. You may find these moments came only in a certain type of race (e.g., short, long, off-road) and this might get you to consider changing up your racing season to have more fun. You may find you did well at a certain time in the year (i.e., before a summer vacation or after).
These positive moments might mean you were well prepared, and you might be able to do similar training with just a couple tweaks next year, if you are going to race the same types of races. If your best moments were in disciplines or moments you weren’t really preparing for, then this might mean switching your race focus. Someone who likes fast races but is racing endurance-focused centuries might be better in criteriums or at the track, while someone who likes long races and warmer weather might realize gravel and marathon mountain bike races are way easier to get excited for than cyclocross.
WHAT MISTAKES DID YOU MAKE?
Were there times when you felt frustrated?
Was there an event or situation you felt like you weren’t prepared for?
Was there a time of year where you got tired or very stressed due to training and racing or family and work?
If last year got hectic or stressful with work or family competing with training and racing then try to factor in more buffer time next year.
In races you might have found you didn’t have the endurance to last through a longer event or you were a slow starter (like me). These moments where you ‘failed’ or felt frustrated or less competent are your best ‘tests’ for what to do more of in training. I spent at least a workout a week this year working on some aspect of accelerating (standing starts, cadence, force, sprinting, etc.) and not surprisingly I got better results. Conversely, if you need endurance it might mean more focus on tempo and threshold and some big weekend training rides.
Use these questions to get some ideas for what you want to do next year in your training. Figuring out what events you are best at, which events (and training) you enjoy most and what aspects of cycling performance you should spend some time practicing will help you make next season even better.