As you transition toward the “off-season”, you might be trying to answer this question.  “How do I maintain a decent level of fitness and still remain fresh and motivated throughout next season”?

In this article we’ll examine 3 strategies to help with the “off-season” question while exploring how your Garmin can make training more fun and less mentally draining.

Structure

While most riders could benefit from adding more structure to their training, it can also tank the enjoyment of riding.  The risk/reward of structure is why it makes sense to hold off as long as possible as you transition into the winter.

Structure Hierarchy w/Garmin
Structure Hierarchy w/Garmin

During the “off-season” your goal should be to stay near the green as much as possible.  Even if limited training time keeps you in the red, there are lots of ways to keep things fun and interesting.   This is where your Garmin can help.

Get to Know Your Garmin

Yes, there were neanderthals getting fast on bikes before GPS, but nowadays the Garmin is a fixture on nearly every set of handlebars.  Simply put, a Garmin makes cycling more fun while increasing your motivation to ride.  Motivated riders get faster and at 300 bucks a Garmin is a bargain when it comes to cycling speed.

To get the most out of your Garmin you need to know the device, how to navigate through the menus, and most importantly how to set-up several different screens.  The screenshots in this article are from the Garmin Edge 520 but most other Garmins offer similar screen configurations.  With your Garmin in hand, here are 3 keys to a great “off-season”.

1:  Keep Your “Off-Season” Training Fun

Your Garmin is here to bridge the gap between structure and fun.  It’ll keep you on task while giving you enough freedom to focus on your ride.

The Garmin doesn’t have to be all about watts and laps.  Exploring new routes or targeting Strava KOM’s is the perfect way to maintain some training intensity while keeping things fun.  Take a look at several suggestions below.

Get on the bike and ride. While you're at it, explore some new roads.
Get on the bike and ride. While you’re at it, explore some new roads.
Unstructured ride but keep things hot with a few KOM attempts.
Unstructured ride but keep things hot with a few KOM attempts.

2:  Keep Your “Off-Season” Training Varied

Variety in your winter training is more important than the perfect “base-mile” progression [2].  Don’t get caught up in what you should or shouldn’t do during the “off-season”.  Mix up your rides with varying intensity and you’ll be fine.

Targeting a specific TSS on a ride can be a great way to “get work in” while still maintaining a loose relationship with structure.  Prefer the old-school “zone” training prescription?  Aim for staying in a prescribed zone during sustained portions of your ride.  Either way, you can configure your Garmin to get the most out of your time.  Check out a TSS and Zone screen below.

Unstructured ride with a specific TSS target. If you're short on time crank up the intensity.
Unstructured ride with a specific TSS target. If you’re short on time crank up the intensity.
Ride near Tempo (Zone 3) most of the ride.
Ride near Tempo (Zone 3) most of the ride.

3:  Keep Your “Off-Season” Training Intense

Unless you’ve got tons of time to train, hitting high-intensity rides during the winter is the best way to stay sharp [1].  Riding hard doesn’t have to mean “intervals”, but it should mean you’re pushing the intensity envelope on a weekly basis.

If you’re stuck indoors, intervals might be your best option to accomplish some quick work. If you’re committed to intervals make sure to go all in.  Stay focused and let your Garmin hold you accountable with a tight leash.

Structured intervals with specific power targets.
Structured intervals with specific power targets.

In Summary

If you’re committed to having a great “off-season” with the goal of progressing into next season, your Garmin can be a huge asset by helping you…

  1. Keep “off-season” training fun
  2. Keep “off-season” training varied
  3. Keep “off-season” training intense

If you’re able to stick to these guidelines there’s a good chance you’ll arrive fit, fresh, and motivated come next season.

Looking for a great pre-built training plan to help you reach your goals in a minimal amount of time?  Check out one of our plans below

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Nate Dunn, M.S.
Data Driven Athlete
@ddacoaching

References

1. Gist, N.H., et al., Sprint interval training effects on aerobic capacity: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Sports Med, 2014. 44(2): p. 269-79.
2. Kiely, J., Periodization paradigms in the 21st century: evidence-led or tradition-driven? Int J Sports Physiol Perform, 2012. 7(3): p. 242-50.

Written by Nate Dunn, M.S.

Nate’s entire career has been spent in education and coaching. As a former teacher and now full-time cycling coach, he is most excited about helping clients discover more about themselves as they achieve their goals on the bike.