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Feeling Adrift Mid-Season?

By Todd Scheske, Peaks Coaching Group Elite Coach

Peaks Coaching Group

Back to list of our training and coaching essays

It’s mid-season, and sometimes athletes can start to feel adrift if they had earlier season goals or find themselves with a gap of racing in the summer. This can be a great time to refocus, do a little rebuilding, and work on some specificity training.

The first thing I generally try to do if earlier goal events are behind me is to find some new challenges and a new target to shoot for. Nothing seems to make hard training harder than not having a reason to do it, and looking at the calendar and prioritizing some events in the weeks ahead will refocus and reenergize your purpose.

Paolo Bettini and Stefano Garzelli in the 2002 Leige-Bastogne-Liege

Avoid the mid-season blahs... Here Paolo Bettini takes the 2002 Liège-Bastogne-Liège in front of Stefano Garzelli.

If you already have those next goal events in mind, then you need to evaluate where you are. Did you just have a peak event? Is there another big event you can use the peak for? If there is a big event right now, then training is easy…STOP TRAINING! Yes, stop training. If you’re at a high in fitness and want to hold that for a little time during the season, you don’t want to waste great fitness getting tired. Find a training-race midweek to stay sharp and on the other days ride easy or take a day off, then come into the next weekend race sharp and recovered. Generally you’re on a race and recovery mode now. Yes, you’ll be losing some fitness as time goes on, but the FTP and endurance hang on longer than you might think, and you’ll be keeping the high end tuned. You can do race and race recovery for a few weeks, and while you may not experience the highest peaks, you will hold a high level of fitness. If the races are hard, you may find a boost in your ability to hold high-end speed, even if your endurance and overall strength drops a little.

On the other hand, if you’ve just finished a big peak and have some weeks until the next big push, it may be a great time to take a rest week. Refresh and hit the reset button a little. After that I like to do a bit of rebuilding of some basic strength and tune the specifics of my next event, so I go back to some threshold work to shore that up. Also, do a couple longer rides and look for the decoupling of heart rate to power to get a sense of how the endurance engine looks. You can also focus on the specifics of your next goal event. Do you need more threshold efforts? Jumps? VO2Xax or climbs? The secondary focus will help us as we rebuild to get the specifics tuned. 

Taking the opportunity to rest, rebuild, perhaps refocus, and hone those secondary specifics for particular events can pay you back in a big way. I even had an athlete break a collar bone in a crash, follow the rebuild and specifics training, and come back to get a nice second place in a big road race (narrowly missing the win in the breakaway’s sprint).

Here’s to a strong finish!

Todd Scheske is a USA Cycling Level 1 coach and a category 1 cyclist. He has won several masters national medals, state road championships, and regional victories. Over the past twenty years he founded four different elite cycling teams and served as their program director and team director, while also promoting bike safety and healthy lifestyles to youth in community programs. He has run a successful junior program and produced several junior cycling camps. Todd can be contacted directly through www.PeaksCoachingGroup.com.