Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Months Ahead

The great Breakthrough in your life comes when you realize it that you can learn anything you need to learn to accomplish any goal that you set for yourself. This means there are no limits on what you can be, have, or do.

Albert Einstein

“Now what?”
Recently a newbie asked me, “Now what?” I could not help but grin as I remembered the end of my first season and wondered how long I would have to wait until I could compete again.

For most triathletes this season is just ending. Many of you were out in early spring running a local 5K race, perhaps even racing the Menan Butte Trail Challenge. May offered the first triathlons of the season and from there the racing season was in full swing. For some your season ended successfully at Blacktail or the Rush while others went on to challenge the Grand Columbian Half or the Florida Ironman. You deserve a pat on the back and congratulations for sustaining a long season.

Now you deserve a break. Welcome to the off season! Every triathlete, regardless of their level of competition, requires an off season. The off season is a time of the year when an athlete becomes more flexible when it comes to training, nutrition and diet, rest, racing and recovery. The focus includes more cross-training, indulging in holiday fair, and enjoying the company of family and friends. It is a time to mentally and physically recover and recharge from the discipline of a long season. The off season is as important to training as the recovery weeks scheduled into a training plan. A successful off season will assure timely motivation and the potential for peak performance during the racing season.

Many of you have you seen or perhaps even been, the athlete that has trained very hard through the fall and winter months only to find yourself flat, injured, and/or disinterested in the spring and summer. It happens all the time. Such an athlete lacks the understanding of rest and recovery as a key element to performance. Don’t make the same mistake.

Might I suggest spending two to four weeks doing as little physical “training” as possible. Don’t swim, bike, run, strength train, take a Pilates, Spinning, or Yoga class. Allow yourself to be a couch potato for this period of time, guilt free.

Following a good rest you are bound to be bouncing off the walls driving yourself and your family crazy. You can take this as a hint that it is time for you to return to some physical activity. For the next one to four weeks restrict that activity to anything but swimming, cycling, running. Nothing sport discipline-related. Cross train. Play basketball or ski. Take long walks, hikes, or snowshoe but mentally and physically stay away from triathlon.

With these weeks behind you, you will find a new enthusiasm for the Prep and Base periods of training. You will wake up refreshed muscles, renew acquaintances with old friends and/or competitors, and you will entertain new thoughts regarding breakthrough training. You will begin looking forward to next season with a sense of purpose and ambition. The chance of burnout, apathy, and injury has been greatly reduced. You will be ready for 2010.

Enjoy the off-season and you will a stronger competitor!

1 comment:

  1. I've already been doing this. Now I just don't feel guilty about it. Thanks Michael!