• 3 Keys to a Great Off-Season | Getting to Know Your Garmin

    by  • September 25, 2015 • trainin and tactics

    As cyclists transition toward the “off-season”, many are attempting 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.


    While most riders would benefit from adding more structure to their training, it can also tank the enjoyment of riding.  The risk/reward of structure is why I try to hold off as long as possible with my athletes as we transition into the winter.  Here’s a graphic that might help illustrate how to get this done.

    Structure Hierarchy w/Garmin Screens

    Structure Hierarchy w/Garmin Screens

    During the “off-season” our goal is to stay in the green as much as possible while making sure we’re not digging ourselves into a fitness hole.

    If you’re short on training time, you’ll be spending more of it in the red.  Even so, 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.  At 300 bucks that’s 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 going after Strava KOM’s is the perfect way to maintain some training intensity while keeping things fun.

    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 prescriptions?  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 ride.

    3:  Keep Your “Off-Season” Training Intense

    Unless you’ve got tons of time to ride, hitting some high-intensity 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.

    To learn why my cycling coaching is different click here

    For a complete archive of blog posts click here

    Nate Dunn, M.S.
    Data Driven Athlete


    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.



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    Nate Dunn has always been passionate about understanding human performance. What started as a fascination with heart rate monitors in high school led to the completion of his Masters Degree in Kinesiology/Exercise Science from CSUS and the founding of his cycling coaching business Data Driven Athlete. He can typically be found reading exercise physiology research, talking excitedly about athletic performance with clients, or backpacking around the NorCal wilderness with his wife and young daughter.