Winter Break and the Importance of Taking Time Off

If you Google “Cycling, Off Season , Rest” you’ll find a lot of articles that talk about Cycling (or triathlon) and the Off Season, but virtually none that talk about the importance of Rest.  Taking a winter break is a good idea for a lot of reasons.  What constitutes a winter break?  The answer is, as with so many training-related questions: it depends.  Let’s go over a couple of different scenarios.

If you’ve had a long season, it’s likely time to give your body and mind some real, deep rest.  For most people, this means two or even three weeks of virtually no exercise – no cross training, no bricklaying (one of my teammates actually did this during his break!), and no weight program.  Just relax, enjoy some of the leisure you don’t have when you’re in full training mode, and let your body soak up all that good rest.  Taking a long break gives you time to think about your goals for the coming season and also allows you to regain your enthusiasm for those hard, wet training rides and runs that will come all too soon.  During this time, simply make sure you go easy on the desserts and reduce your overall caloric intake to match your lowered exertion level.

What if your season was divided or disrupted?  If you’ve already had a season in two halves or even thirds, then it’s likely you’re still excited about training and feel ready to go.  In that case, it’s easy to jump in too deep too quickly, so consider taking a solid week or ten days off.  Use the time to plan your coming season and dial in your equipment.  Again, make sure you watch what you eat.  You’ll get a bit of a metabolic reprieve, however, as it takes a few days for your metabolism to slow down after prolonged training.  So, enjoy the treats for a bit but don’t overdo it while you’re lying around reading old copies of RaceCenter NW.

Remember that rest is your friend.  It’s what allows your muscles to regain their suppleness, and your body to regain its balance.  Think of it not as time spent not training, but rather as time spent preparing your body to get the most out of your training and time spent preparing your mind to stay motivated and focused through the long winter and hard season ahead.


About the Author

Adnan is a USAC-certified Level 1 cycling coach who believes that in sport, as in life, it is important to strike a balance between the various aspects of what one does. Adnan has been a competitive cyclist and triathlete for nearly 25 years.  His full-time coaching practice can be found at