December tends to start the “next” season for roadies, triathletes, mountain bikers, and basically anyone besides a cyclocross racer (because those people are weird anyways! 😉). So, what you do now, and over the next few months, will really make a difference in how well you perform next year…and you want to surpass this season, right!?
1) Get Structured
Nothing will make a bigger difference in your progression (aside from having a coach of course) than making your training more structured. Eliminating the “junk” miles and the “just riding” workouts will not only result in improved adaptations, but will get you there faster and with less training time invested. I have also seen structured workouts keep an athlete motivated and focused over the Winter as you have a plan, know what is coming next, and if you stick with it you know you will become stronger. Plus, Winter riding usually means trainer riding, and interval sessions go WAY faster compared to steady state stuff.
This is also the only time of year when you can “train to train”, i.e. you don’t have a race or event on the horizon and can instead focus on improving aspects that make a good athlete a great one!
1a) Structure Your Recovery
Structure doesn’t apply to training only, of course…You need to overload the body to create an adaptation, but how quickly and how well your body adapts comes down to how well you sleep and how clean you eat. Training and recovery go hand in hand, and one side must be balanced to reap the benefits of the other side (imagine a see-saw). So, you can also use this Winter to work on creating better sleep habits, and cleaning up your diet. Little changes in these areas can make a massive difference in others!
2) Get Consistent
Fitness = Consistency over Time (F = C/T) ain’t GC Coaching’s motto for nothin’, consistency is crucial to see improvements. Without a constant and progressive training stimulus, the body has no reason to adapt and become fitter, and you just keep on repeating last year’s fitness peak (which isn’t why you’re reading this now). So this Winter, get your butt in gear more often, become more compliant with adhering to a plan, or even better, DO BOTH! Also, remember the body usually adapts better to multiple shorter rides per week as opposed to 1 or 2 really long rides per week (in my experience).
3) Get Together
Training with a partner or group always yields greater consistency, and therefore results! Embarking on a common goal with people is great because there are days when you just aren’t going to want to get out of bed. Guess what? If you have a good training partner, they will either motivate you to get up and go, or guilt you into it! Either way, your workout for the day is going to get done and you will be a stronger person (both mentally and physically) because of it. So, this Winter sign up for a group training class, join a Zwift group, or simply make a pact with your friends to make next year YOUR YEAR.
4) Get Motivated
Find some new music, read an inspiring book, watch a documentary about your big race or goal event for next year…Just do something to “wet your whistle” (so to speak) and keep your interest and focus on the goal over the long Winter doldrums. I like to come up with, or find, a new motto at the beginning of every season and repeat it like a mantra when the going gets tough. This year mine is:
Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard! -Tim Notke
5) Get Going!
Above all else, just do it! Yes, this is easy to say and want to do, but no one is going to get you there, except YOU. The first 2 weeks of anything are the hardest, but after you do something consistently for 2 weeks it gets easier to keep up (I promise!). After a little more time elapses, you are going to actually look forward to the exercise and miss it if you have to miss a day here and there (I promise that too!).
So, this Winter, set a goal for riding and recovering in a more structured way; doing it consistently; finding someone or a group to take the journey with; keep yourself motivated by finding a motto, book, person, or movie when the fire wanes (which it will sometimes); and most importantly just get going!
What do YOU want next season to bring?
The Winter makes your Summer! -Shayne Gaffney