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Tanja Erath: I am off to off-season

Dear reader, 

not a lot of cycling content happened in the last few weeks since I have been off to off-season, so no cycling but more alternative content this time ☺

If I´m honest, I´ve never been a huge fan of the concept “off-season”. It never really made sense to me to stop doing what I like the most: Riding my bike!

As a triathlete I actually increased my time on the bike since I didn´t have to “waste” my training time with running anymore. But back then my training was my after-work/after-uni routine and therefor my evening treat. 

The last two years riding my bike became my job, but don’t get me wrong: That does NOT mean I enjoy it any less, but training plans got stricter and more demanding, travel days became more and so did race days. 

Starting into the 2019 season in Spain on February 10th and ending in China on October 22nd made my mind and body feel pretty exhausted towards the end of the season. The last few weeks I still felt strong, motivated for China and my training did go pretty well. However, I really needed to force myself to get on my bike for more than three hours. A feeling that I did not know before. 

So, I had to realize and accept that maybe this year I do need some proper time off the bike. 

My coach and I decided to do a training break for a bit more than two weeks. To support this plan, I did not even unpack my bike after returning from China. 

Because right there lies the crux of the matter: I might be exhausted and need to rest, but there´s a reason why my parents sent me to a triathlon club being 11 years old. If I don´t get to move enough, I get into a state between restless, hyperactive, annoying, depressed, up to aggressive with a pinch of self-hatred. Having that knowledge, I decided to protect the people around me and to use my cycling holidays for all the sports I like but normally never get to do. 

I played tennis, I went back to my old swimming habits, did long walks and a lot of strength training. 

I always enjoyed strength training a lot, but as a cyclist you concentrate on your lower body strength or let´s say: It´s all about squats. Therefore in the offseason I went back to what I call “the disco pump”: Abs, chest, bi- and triceps, because nobody can see your legs in the club. Looking back, I actually spent most of the time with a bad upper body muscle ache. But most of these activities already helped me getting ready for the upcoming season. 

For example, tennis made me understand how important it is to make fast decisions in sports. When you hesitate in a bike race, you might not have the consequence right away, but later on in the race. Maybe you might never realize since you missed an important move or haven´t been in the right position for the next one. Whereas in tennis you get your consequence right away and just miss the ball. Keeping this in mind for the next season I won´t double think following an attack and just hit the ball. 

Furthermore, taking care of my neglected upper body makes me start into season prep with a more balanced body. And swimming helped to not loose my form completely. 

I even took my off-seaon one step further: I went on holiday! A thing I did not do in the last 10 years, since holiday time used to be training camp time. But a city trip with only hand luggage makes it even harder to keep yourself active. We walked up to 15 km a day, still my companions got a “slight idea” of the inactive version of myself. 

While I am writing this Zwift blog I just started my season prep for 2020 and it is crazy how happy I am being “back at work”. After my first ride, I already liked myself around 30% more than I did in the last two weeks. Call me crazy, but since I am back in training it won´t bother me: I am happy again! 

Still I know that not everybody feels the same way about off-season than I do and for a lot of athletes it is super important to have this break and recharge the batteries going into another year of training and racing. I guess breaks, same as training, are pretty individual. So never stress about what others do and find out what´s best for your mind and body. Since it´s always hard to find the right balance between training and resting, especially as an amateur rider, trying to fit training and racing into your daily routine. 

So, if you are like me and still on your offseason: Hold on!!! It´ll pass!!! For all the others: Enjoy!!!

Cheers, Tanja Erath!

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