The Mid-Pre-Season Blues
When I was racing in France there was a saying that went Fort en janvier. Mort en julliet. Strong in January. Dead in July. In French it rhymes! Basically it meant if you were flying around the track, dominating winter races and, in short, feeling strong, you were going to be burnt out by the time the important summer races came around.
January seems to be a particularly tough time for athletes I coach. They don't see the early gains they see when they first get started in October/November. There a no races to freshen up for and use as motivation. Plus it's dark and cold and sometimes wet. And the holidays are behind them.
Also, I'm a big cumulative fatigue guy. My athletes are generally, at this point of the season, training frequently and consistently. No one workout is crazy in length or intensity but they are training often and combined effects mean they are tired. Most of the time. Tired at the track, tired for the long ride, so they don't feel fast or strong within themselves or compared to other and that's just fine. Fort en janvier. Mort en julliet.
Really, when I was in serious training, I always enjoyed this time of year. I could focus 100% on the training without the interruptions of racing. Skills and techniques and strength deficiencies can be worked on without panic. With experience, I also enjoyed holding back at group workouts knowing that I was laying down a foundation for the season. The measuring and comparing could wait until the races in Spring.