There probably is no strict rules on how long off-season one should have and how the transition to the new training period should be done. Even though I know that off-season is one of the most important periods in the annual training cycle it has always been very difficult for me to let go of the training. After the last races I have always felt that I need to continue on training that my body is able to recover, but after the first easier week I realized how tired my body and mind actually are and that a period without daily training schedule is actually just what I need.
So based on my experience the most important thing to keep in mind on the period off-season - transition to the new training period is not to rush. You need time to fully recover. This is not only important for your body, but this is also important for your mind. Enjoy the free time with friends and family! It’s also ok to allow yourself some more extra treats like another glass of wine during a dinner or staying up later than 9 pm, just whatever you feel is right for you to get your mind off from the training and racing.
After a week or two ‘off’ it’s good to start having some exercise back in the daily menu, but do something fun and enjoy this freedom to do something different than normal. For me this is for example riding with cyclocross or trail running in the forest, wall climbing and hot yoga. After a hard season you usually also have some niggles somewhere and this is the time in the cycle where you should really take both the time and effort to fix those. Do you stretching, have your massage and consult your physio to ensure that these niggles won’t bother you on the coming season anymore.
Off course now it’s also time to review and reflect the past season. What did go well and where there still are areas for improvement in the execution. Based on this analysis you’ll create an annual training plan that reflects your short and long term training goals.
Then after about a month of resting and easy exercise it’s finally time to get back to work. One word of advice that I have got from my coach Paul is that then when you feel that now you want to start with the training plan it is still wise to wait at least for a couple of days. It is still a long time to the next big race. It is where common to freak out for losing the fitness, but actually after a good rest body is more ready to suck up the training and with a wise plan you can build it up faster and stronger than ever before!