Genevieve Whitson battles mud and snow at Kalmthout. Photo Courtesy of Genevieve Whitson

Genevieve Whitson battles mud and snow at Kalmthout. Now, she's ready for road season. Photo Courtesy of Genevieve Whitson

by Molly Hurford

The off-season isn’t really much of an off season for any of our serious women racers, as we found out in our last edition of Women’s Wednesday. We heard from racers like Kaitlin Antonneau, Christine Varadaros and Nicole Duke, and these speedy ladies have all already started racing their other season. Today, we have elite racers Genevieve Whitson and Frances Morrison weighing in.

Genevieve Whitson:
The off-season for me is usually the road season! So I am motivated for ’cross knowing that I am getting some good base miles in on the road, but I also do a lot of mountain biking around the end of the road season to work on the skills, as well as yoga. Generally motivation is high when the racing is going well and it’s low when the racing is going badly. If the racing isn’t rocking, then taking a step back, trying a different sport,  or going out and letting the hair down does the trick to get back into that zone. It’s definitely possible to do too much racing and burn out, so I think structure and planning which races you are going to target is the key.

Read more on Whitson’s season here.

Frances Morrison:
This year for the off-season, my focus was to take a good mental rest, but to keep myself busy enough to not go crazy. It’s actually pretty hard from me to go from intense training and racing every weekend to nothing at all, so throwing in a good amount of activities every week that get the blood pumping is key for me to transition into, and survive, the bulk of the off-season. This year, the JAM team decided to hit the YMCA for weight, strength, and stability sessions, as well as ample sauna time. This year I also finally learned the glory of dry heat, especially when it’s wicked hot! I also use the off-season to dip into other sports that I don’t have the time to get into when I’m in season. I went to a couple sessions at my local rock climbing gym and gave my arms a painful reminder that they had muscles. Usually I dust off my snowboard and Nordic skis; I try to play in the snow as much as I can, but given that New England had no snow this winter, my snowboard went untouched. Winter mountain biking is also a great way to keep fitness in the winter, even if there’s snow. The woods are warmer than the roads, and snow shredding is awesome. Regardless of what I’m doing during the day, I definitely think that an important part of off-season mental recovery is beer. Tasty, tasty, beer.

We also wanted to get a coach’s advice, and Chris Mayhew weighed in on what a beginner can be doing to prep in the off-season:
Get a bike
. Or get whatever you can get on. Start riding it. Anywhere, everywhere. You want to get used to the positioning, the handling. Figure out if you need position changes or equipment changes. Start ABC/NBC early (“always be ’crossing”/”nothing but ’cross”).

I’d say every other week, block out a bit of time to do dismounts/remounts/carrying. Maybe every week. Just 30 minutes, but get started early. Find your local ’cross guru and schedule some time to have him or her watch you and give pointers. No sense in building bad form in April.

Ride any bike. A lot of clients don’t want to ruin their ’cross season during the summer. The best thing you can do is race and ride a lot now, while it’s easy. You can build a really nice cake right now. You’ll put the icing on that cake in August and September (and you’ll probably want to let that cake cool in late July, to really stretch this metaphor out).

Lastly, start reading Cyclocross Mag! They answer so many questions and cover so much. Honestly, I consider it a professional obligation to reach each issue cover-to-cover. Same goes for the online stuff as well. The Cowbell forum has some great archives, too.