By Kaitlyn Patterson, Team Athletic Mentors Cyclist
An off-season has been a foreign concept for me for the past several years. The rollerskis (or real skis) would come out just after Iceman and ski race season would be in full force as soon after. And by the time the last xc ski race was over in March, it was already cycling season. I’m still not sure how I managed to avoid getting totally burnt out pulling this off several consecutive years, but I am very thankful for my string of healthy seasons. But with the move to Ann Arbor and school demands, I can manage being a cyclist but not a skier. And after a fall of balancing the first semester of medical school with mountain bike racing and then the Zwift Academy competition, I was pretty toasted and ready for a break.
I took some time totally off the bike and got in some skiing in December before the big January thaw. I didn’t do anything structured or hard, nor did I want to. I did have a few things I wanted to accomplish off the bike. My first goal was to put myself back together so I could do real runs. I injured my IT band at the GR Tri in 2015 and haven’t been able to tolerate much running since. It didn’t bother me on the bike so I admittedly put it on the backburner and just didn’t run. It didn’t get worse but also didn’t get better. Some concentrated rehab on my hip flexor flexibility and abductor strength the past few months has been very successful and I’ve been able to build up to 6-8 miles every other day.
It feels great to be running again and pretty nostalgic since I’m back in Ann Arbor. I’ve been running variations on the same well-traveled routes from my collegiate running career, albeit not quite as
fast or not quite as long. It has definitely helped to fill the void of not being able to ski or ride outside much.
I’ve also spent more committed time in the weight room since strength is definitely my weakness. I am slow twitch through and through. I’ve historically not been a fan of lifting because I haven’t seen it translate to improvements but I also haven’t previously committed enough to see results. This time is more enjoyable and it helps that I have a readily accessible gym and it has helped me get back running already. I think strength training can be a hard thing for a lot of cyclists and multisport athletes to commit to, but it really does translate to being more injury resistant and keeping control and form on the bike.
The remainder of my training time is spent on Zwift. I actually don’t mind the trainer and my cold tolerance for riding outside is pretty wimpy. The trainer also has the added benefit of allowing me to listen to lectures and material while I ride.
I definitely miss cross country ski racing and the ski community but it has been nice to have some time to not have to be on top of my game all the time. Sometimes a reset button is necessary and even enjoyable. And by the time spring rolls around, I’m going to be itching to race!