Firstly don’t panic! Don’t stop reading! And try not to break into a cold sweat, these are the standard reactions to mentioning ‘The Off Season’, I come up against this every year with new athletes. As a coach it is a tough time, tougher than race season. Trying to convince people who live to be active and push themselves day in day out to chill and take a break, it’s as if I just asked them to never exercise again.

What we are wanting to do in this article is to try to put your mind at ease and allow you to see what the gains are and what the ‘off-season’ really is and really isn’t.

If we follow a training plan, be it our own or one from a club or a coach, you should have a build phase followed by a recovery week before starting to build or peak again. Well the OFF SEASON is your recovery week but just a little longer. The science is the same the theory is the same too. We overreach/over train to force our bodies to adapt then we allow our body through rest to become stronger and take these adaptations on board.
Take away the recovery period and our bodies will become fatigued and refuse to progress, known as a plateau or worse a burnout).

Now, these week-long recovery periods do not mean you sit on the sofa eat ice cream and refuse to move; during these periods we drop the intensity of sessions down to base and easy effort, we cut the length of sessions as well and maybe even, like some of my Elite XC riders, go for a swim (lots of benefits of 20 minute swim).

For any of you that train on road as well as off-road I ban my large front ring for 4 weeks, this prevents me overloading my muscles in training sessions, so try to ban your harder gears so you are having to spin a little more to prevent overloading those tired legs.

To go back to OFF SEASON all we are doing is allowing our bodies and minds to recover, take on board all the hard sessions and racing that we have done over the year and take some time to relax. It means go and ride easy and relaxed, go find some new routes with no pressure. It’s also a chance to catch up with all of your non rider friends and spend some good quality time with your family again. Go try some different sports and have a laugh with it, once you have done those get the calendar out and yes plan your races for the next season.

By having 3-4 weeks off-season you will have given your body a rest so it will come back stronger. Your mind will be wanting to get back out there so motivation will have grown. You will have had a chance to ride new MTB routes, visit family and catch up on other areas of your life……..WOW off-season is actually really busy! It will be a welcome break to get back on the serious training.

With the ever-expanding race season (almost 12 months of a year now) we know this is getting harder to do, MTB goes through spring summer autumn and winter oh yeah and the skinny tyre MTB known as CX racing has now expanded their once small season, so how do we even feature an off season into our year??? Goals, goals and GOALS! prioritize your races and you can start to feature in some rest time and decide to miss some less important events.

Please remember no one is telling you that you must take an off season, we are just explaining the benefits. Overall, the most important thing is to enjoy your riding.

Any questions on OFF SEASON drop me an email or

We will be looking at the benefits of base training for XC/Marathon and stage racing in our next blog which is sure to create some interesting discussions.