The Off Season...
Since it's nearing the off-season, or better said non-racing months, it's a good time to take a break from the strict training schedules some of us tend to become slaves to, and take a short mental and physical break. If you're someone who has trained consistently and worked hard this season, you're probably ready for a break. Following you're last race of the season, I recommend taking a week or two off of training, or at least planned workouts, and follow this time with one or two weeks of training just by how you feel, doing what you want to (unless that means doing nothing at all, or lifting weights in the form of modified arm curls- AKA lifting cookies, donuts, or cups of egg-nog into the mouth). It's also a good time to mix in some other types of workouts and cross-training, such as nordic skiing, snowshoeing, rowing, hiking, etc, because a few months down the road you'll likely need a mental break, and physical rest, if you didn't take one at the end of the season.
It's important to adjust our training throughout the year, mixing up workout types, volumes, and intensities, in order to benefit the most. Build in training phases throughout the year, with the off-season months at lower training intensities, and focus on getting stronger as opposed to simply lighter and fitter. When getting back into the routine, the winter months are a great time build strength without burning yourself out with high intensity workouts. If you're a weaker cyclist, it's a great time to focus on improving cycling strength. Even though the heart rate does not need to be as high as our intense workouts in the middle of the racing months, we can still become a better cyclist. How? By building muscular strength. At least once a week during the winter, mix in a low cadence workout, pushing your biggest gear. Keeping cycling cadence around 55-60 RPM for 45 minutes to an hour, while pushing a bigger gear than you're used to, is an example of an affective way to build cycling specific leg strength.
Ryan Borger is a professional triathlete who lives and trains in Denver CO. Email Ryan with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org