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Is it Better to Get Coaching in the Summer Months or During the Off-season?

Ask a Pro — Diane Stibbard

Coach, Personal Trainer, and Two-Time Canadian Duathlete of the Year

Diane Stibbard - two-time dualthlete of the yearQ: Is it better to get coaching in the summer months or during the off-season?

A: This question is right up my alley. As a trainer I see the value of coaching during the summer and also in the off-season months. I follow a yearly training protocol with seasonal training cycles, which coaches call macro-cycles. A macro-cycle is a period of time, generally four months, but can last up to six months.

Within the macro-cycle there are also smaller blocks of time, called meso-cycles, which are two to four weeks long, and micro-cycles, which are monthly programs, structured with a three-week-build in intensity and mileage, with one rest day per week and a shorter active recovery week on week four.

The off-season begins the yearly training cycle as the first of three macro-cycles. As a coach, breaking up the year into three macro-cycles allows me periods of time to work on developing all of the areas a cyclist requires to help her toward achieving her yearly goals. Some cyclists have one specific goal or one main race/event or tour they are training toward; others will have two or three goals they want to achieve within the year. Regardless of the number of goals, the training will still be broken down into blocks of training time. This allows me to methodically increase all the elements associated with becoming a better cyclist, including: strength, aerobic capacity, power, technique and, most important, recovery. Improving the body’s ability to recover helps cyclists to train consistently without getting sick or injured. Recovery is a major part of my training cycles. I incorporate mini rest and recovery cycles within my micro-cycles of training (the monthly programs), longer recovery cycles at the end of the summer months, and a moderate recovery period after a goal has been achieved.

Below are some examples of the elements I focus on within each macro-cycle:

Time off/cross-training
Aerobic endurance
Cycling technique
Core and body strength work through resistance training
Nutrition and hydration discovery (practicing with various foods, and fluids for in-season training/racing/events)

Muscular strength
Maintenance of aerobic endurance
Continued nutrition and hydration discovery

Anaerobic threshold
Maintenance of muscular strength
Race-/event-/tour-specific terrain training

Post-season recovery:
Cross-training activities
Recap of strengths, weaknesses, and successes from past in-season macro-cycle

Within each macro-cycle above, I sprinkle in all the elements of training. However, the elements I mention above are the main areas of focus for each macro-cycle. From this you can see that coaching has a tremendous value at any time of the year. You don’t need to begin the macro-cycle in the off-season. You can pick up coaching at any point in the year. Coaching gives you the information you need to train effectively, and the structure of a progressive and balanced schedule.

Training for a two-day cycling eventDiane provides training programs for recreational and competitive cyclists, duathletes and triathletes, including nutritional counseling and personal training. Does your company need a fitness consultant? Get in touch with Diane to discuss fitness seminars for corporations

You want personal training but don’t live near Diane? No problem. Diane does email and telephone consultations. To learn more, visit Diane’s website or contact her at

Check out Diane’s e-programs: Keeping Fit in the Off-Season and Training For a Two-Day Charity Event For the Time-Starved Cyclist.

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