As the fall and winter months approach and the racing season comes to an end, it is important to take the time to regenerate your mental state and let your body heal physically to make sure next season is a success. There is a lot of micro-tearing and wear and tear that happens during a season of intense training and racing and it is important to let all these micro-injuries heal to prevent larger injuries from occurring. As the number of daylight hours diminish, the weather turns colder, and snow starts to fall, it is time to shift the focus of your workout regimen from building to base training and address your weaknesses or limiters to turn them into strengths in preparation for next season. The off season is a time to become a stronger athlete!
Here are some TIPS to help you ensure a beneficial and successful off season:
1. Review your past season and write down all your thoughts. Write down what you learned, what you achieved and what you wanted to achieve but didn’t. This helps to finalize your season and help you to determine your next goals.
2. Plan your races for next season with your coach so that an appropriate plan can be generated to ensure a proper build to peak performance for your “A” races.
3. Get a good bike fit. Efficiency is extremely important on the bike and a perfect fit means faster bike times.
4. Get lactate threshold testing done to determine what heart rates you should be using in your training. They also show you how much you have improved over the season (if you have a previous test to compare to) or give you a baseline to start with.
5. Sign up for some fall running races or other races to keep you motivated and to keep some speed focus present in your training. While the focus is on base training now, it is still important to keep those muscles firing so add some short speed intervals or Fartlek runs into your training.
6. Sign up for a winter training camp (somewhere warm)! The camp group environment is fun and motivating, and a focused week of training improves your fitness so you will be farther ahead come spring.
7. Dress appropriately for the weather. There is no reason why you can’t run outdoors in the winter!
8. Do some fun cross training like cross country skiing, skate skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating or mountain biking and run on some new or interesting run routes like on running trails to make things more exciting.
9. Use this time to focus on improving your swim: Join a Masters Swim Group or book some sessions with a swim coach. Use more drills in your workouts to improve your stroke.
10. Work on improving your bike technique: Do more one-legged or high cadence drills that will help to improve your pedal stroke. Do a group Computrainer ride where you can race each other, or do an occasional spinning class.
11. Improve your power to weight ratio. Focus on good nutrition to keep off extra pounds, consider taking a good multivitamin and work on your strength training.
12. Take the time to work on your flexibility. Take yoga, Pilates, and/or a core strengthening class. Do a little bit of stretching every day!
13. ENJOY time with the family and friends as your training volume decreases. Read a good book and enjoy some well deserved relaxation.