Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Off Season

When my friend Chad told me that he saw my picture on the WTC release of the new lottery program on Xtri, I was really surprised. Why they chose this picture, I'll never know. I remember it vividly in my mind, but it was hard to see through the tears at the time. Regardless, I had an immense sense of thankfulness and disappointment at the same time. It was the strangest feeling ever, but it was human, it was simple and it was racing. We take all of it, the good the bad, the emotional, we bring all of it with us.

I'm adjusting well to the off-season and I was so thankful for all of the comments I received on my last blog about turning pro. You all are so supportive and I'm thankful for each and every comment. I mean that from the bottom of my heart! I'm excited about next year and I'm just thankful to have the opportunity to start this next stage of my career.

The off-season is very confusing to many people. Because I am addicted to triathlon, I read plenty of articles even on this time. Sometimes they almost seem conflicting! One will say "make sure you stay active" and others will say "be sure to rest, put your feet up, take a real break!" It's hard to know what will work for an athlete in the off-season because we are all very different. The most important thing is to know yourself and your body. Do you recover fairly quickly during the season? What type of racing did you do - short course? long course? If you raced short course, only up to Olympic distance, you may not need as long of a break as some people who were pushing through two to three Ironmans this year. However, what is common to each athlete is the need to take a MENTAL break. The season is long, and grueling at times. I find it's not so much the WORKOUTS I need a break from, essentially, it's trying to fit everything in.

Some people only think of their weekly workout "LOAD" as volume. The way I've been taught, that is not truly the case. Your workout load encompasses

Volume + Intensity + Specificity + LIFE

Not just volume. All of these factors contribute to your fatigue level at the end of the season. Have you been mentally and physically working your hardest to balance things from January to November? Well, if so, then for heaven's sake, take a couple weeks off my friend! A couple weeks completely away from working out is a good thing, to let a few little nagging aches and pains heal up, give your body a break and of course, give your mind a rest too. After that, it seems generally agreed upon that you have to follow your heart for at least 2-4 weeks and take cues from your own physiology. Do you feel like working out? Do it! Keep the duration until 2 hrs and keep the intensity down - way down. Do some things you don't normally do - forget your watch / GPS / tracking device / crazy analytical self at home when you take a run! Watch the light dance on the leaves, take a walk, try a mountain bike or just take the day off if you feel like it!

For me, one to two days completely off has been working well and the rest of the days I've been doing a little something. So far, that something is mountain biking, spin class, elliptical, trail running or core exercises. Nothing too crazy. You'll notice there hasn't been any swimming in there - whooops! Well, I didn't feel like getting up at 5:00am.. so I didn't! I'm thinking about it this week.. maybe.. we'll see!

Just be sure to be smart and realize that no one wants to be a January champion. It's best to let your fitness go away a little (not completely - like a month off), and then start to build your plan with a focus on endurance / aerobic work and technique work when you are ready to come back for real.

Make sure you take this time - in the throws of May / June / July next year - you'll thank yourself!


Steve said...

I take cues from myself. I want to always be on, and I think I realized this year it is o.k. to have a little time when I am not on. Realize also, my on is WAYYYY different than yours. My peak is your taper... if I am lucky. :) LOL


Alison said...

Great post - so true!

Kiet said...

Got it Coach...oops... Pro Coach!

Anonymous said...

Really great view what is most important in off season period! I'm age-group triathlete from Croatia and I was training really hard so I understand everything what You wrote in this great post. Thank You very much!