Posted: October 15, 2004
Multisport: Take A Break And Keep Your Fitness
Josh Powers on Alternative Transition Period Workouts
Written by: Josh Powers, CTS Senior Coach
The days are getting shorter and the summer seems to be coming to a swift end. The races in most regions of the country are starting to wind down and in many cases so is the motivation to train. Does the thought of throwing on the Lycra for yet another training ride sound as appealing as taking 30 screaming children to the Icecapades? If it does then it might be time for a little break.
This time of year is often called the Transition Period. It’s the time before the long easy days on the bike start up and after the races of the season are sweet, painful memories. The transient period is traditionally designed to give both your mind and body a break from the rigors of training. In short, the transition period is marked by a decrease in volume and intensity. The days off of training can be increased as well. This is the perfect time to pick up activities such as sleeping and spending time with your significant other; things you had neither the time nor the energy to deal with during the season. The transition period is also the perfect time to get some cross training in. You might want to take that Yoga class you’ve wanted to sign up for or teach the neighbor kid to catch lawn darts…only joking.
In all seriousness the Transition Period is a good time to work on muscle imbalance issues that can lead to serious overuse injuries during the season. Many activities, such as cycling, require movement in one plane of motion causing certain muscle groups to increase in size while others that may not be as important to the required motion, atrophy. Although those lesser developed muscle groups aren’t as necessary in the movement of your choice, they still play a significant role in stabilization and tracking of your joints; therefore, they can’t be ignored. A good activity for cyclist that can help restore muscle balance is anything that occurs in several planes of motion; such as skate skiing. Seeing that the snow this time of year is limited to glaciers and the polar ice caps, rollerblading and/or roller skiing are fantastic substitutes. Another thing to keep in mind when choosing your transition activities is what you consider to be fun. If you really enjoy hiking, then lace up the boots and head for the trails. If you have an undeniable urge to wear a pink tutu and ride a pogo stick to work then have at it; just remember to wear your helmet. Whatever strikes your fancy and gives you that mental break from training while still keeping you active is perfect.
If you’re one of those extremely focused individuals that just loves to ride their bike and isn’t burnt out at all, you might want to consider crossing over to other cycling genres for a spell. If your season focus is on the road bike then lube up the chain on your mountain bike and get it dirty for a change. You also might want to look at cyclocross. The races are short and your fitness from the previous season should carry you through a few cyclocross races without much difficulty.
This is also the perfect time of year to get back into the gym. A good off season gym workout can be the key to many improvements on the bike as well as injury prevention. A properly structured gym workout is designed with the athlete, activity and timing of training in mind. Core strength workouts are extremely important as well as the primary muscle movers for your desired activity.
The thing to remember with any Transition Period activity is to start out slow and easy. You might be the fittest person in the world but if your leg is thrown over a bike all year and you decide to run a few miles with the throttle opened up, you’re going to be sore… really sore. I’m talking about scooting around the office in your desk chair because the mere thought of standing up, let alone walking, brings tears to your eyes. Trust me on this; I know. Give yourself a couple weeks to get accustomed to the new movement and use of different muscle groups before you try anything foolish. Time away from the normal workout routine is what you need; not a blown out knee and several months of watching midday TV to think about why you shouldn’t have signed up for the rugby tournament two days after jumping off the bike for the season.
The bottom line is get some variety into your routine and communicate to your coach about the type of activities you’d like to participate in so she/he can work it into your training plan. Remember that taking time off the bike in the off-season to recharge the batteries is much less detrimental than taking it in the middle of your Preparation work because you’ve decided to skip a bike ride in order to take 30 screaming kids to the Icecapades.
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