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Why You NEED to Get Fat in the Off-Season

One of the most important parts in a training plan is the period of time where no training takes place.

That’s right, taking time away from workouts is just as important as slogging away through tough interval sessions.

If you’re an athlete, you’ll probably find yourself in one of two categories after a long race season. The first category is the racer that is totally done–they are cooked and welcome the break. The other category of racer is the one that is still super motivated and wants to keep going.

While these athletes might be in different states of mind, what they do have in common is that once the racing stops, they are already thinking about next year. And the hardest job for a coach is to get either of these athletes to take planned time off of training as part of the actual training plan.

You might be thinking, ‘won’t time off of training make me lose fitness?’

Yes AND no.

A great example is from my first year of coaching. My very first athlete was a world cup XC

pro who was approaching a make-or-break year. Things were going good, but the elusive paycheck was just dangling in front. It was November when we came to an agreement to make a big change, and one look at the current training plan said this athlete needed a break.

The prescription: ONE MONTH OF NO BIKES

This athlete came back after this one month break to record a best ever threshold power test on the very first day…and went on to be nearly unbeatable all year!

It seems counter-intuitive to stop training or hang the bike up for a bit… and might even seem like a cop-out on the coach’s end. However this part of training is necessary.

Check out how you can use a pacing strategy in your next Enduro race

Below are 5 reasons why a break from training is important for next year’s performance:

1. Let your body recover

You’ve asked a lot of your body over the past season. You’ve pushed yourself beyond what you originally thought was possible of yourself in each race and you meticulously trained to have your best performances. You’ve trained and trained and trained. While it might feel like you can go on like this forever, you can’t!

If you do keep going, what’s going to happen is that you’ll plateau in your performance. If you keep going after that, you’ll get overtrained–or equally bad–burnt out!

In this case, you’ll eventually end up needing a break anyway, whether you’re sick of it or can no longer ride. In turn, this means you have less control over when you will perform next season, if at all!

This kind of thing isn’t worth the gamble. Take the time to take a break.