A Definite Off-Season
We’ve got a big year ahead of us! Regardless of what your goals are in nine months, it’s important to remember that neither performance nor fitness is in a linear progression. Rather, your performance and achievements are cyclical. Heavier volumes of training with the concurrent mental investment should be followed by planned periods of rest, both physical and mental. This means having periods of less volume and less intensity and a chance for you to mentally take a break from the day to day grind of training are important components of training.
But, I'll lose fitness. I’ll gain weight. I’ll get really crabby! As discussed in our last blog (The Courage to Rest), planned rest periods can be one of the most challenging aspects of training for athletes. We know! But if you want to keep moving forward and maintaining your passion for your sport, you have to learn to love those breaks in sport.
Ok, love might be a strong word! Let’s say that we want you to understand and accept that a lighter training load strategically placed will only help you on your journey to Ironman all that much more.
Enjoy those Holidays!
It happens that nine months to go with Ironman Canada just hits a time when it’s dark, wet and cold here in the Pacific Northwest and generally not any better in the rest of the country. This is perfect for getting in some training but not too much. Enjoy the time with friends and families. Be present when you are with others and not just thinking of how can i get a long run in to burn off that extra piece of pie.
Take time to have fun. Don’t worry about a few missed workouts and for sure don’t try to make up workouts. No workout today is going to be what makes or breaks race day nine months from now. But, relaxing and playing might give you just a bit more on race day.
Moderation is key at this time. It is the holidays but moderation includes food and drink choices too. For sure have those fun holiday treats and balance them out with good food choices at other times. Try to keep your schedule somewhat sane. We know how hard this can be. Aim to get enough sleep even though you are too busy! If you are traveling for the holidays, try to plan ahead as this will allow you to make better choices at the time.
Take this time to play!! Snow sports. Hiking. Yoga. Fitness classes (maybe even with a friend you can’t normally train with). Be wary of only high intensity right now as this is the time that building low intensity aerobic fitness is a primary goal. Ironman is a long day and requires a huge amount of aerobic fitness. Aerobic fitness is developed over a long period of general aerobic work, not hard workouts. Don’t think any activity that is not swim, bike or run as a waste. In their own way, all of these cross training activities are preparation for the season ahead. They are using different muscles in different ways and will only serve to make you stronger. So go ahead and explore!
Now remember we said this is the time for moderation. So that means this is not the time to stop everything and hibernate. Yes we know that can be very tempting on really cold, dark, wet or snowy days but we promise you will be much happier come spring and come August if you kept up at least some type of fitness.
As we discussed in the last Road to Ironman blog, this is the time to invest less time in specific workouts and more time focused on any physical therapy or strength training exercises that will help you start the next season off right. If you have injury issues or other physical limiters, work now to resolve them and bullet-proof yourself as best as you can. You want a good foundation to take off from. Take ten minutes to do those exercises you know you need. Everyone has these exercises! If you have a hard time remembering, add a calendar appointment on your calendar. Make a goal of getting short strength routines in a few times a week and make sure to pat yourself on the back when you get them in!
During this time as you are out playing in the snow, hiking or trying some new things, watch for the thoughts that crawl into your head about last season. Do you have the same conversations even in this play?
This is a great time to work on developing more mental skills for the season ahead. Think about what you were thinking during your last event. Are there negative comments you can re-frame or mantras you can start to use now to help you through? For each negative thought, try to think of a couple of positive thoughts that would counter. “I am to slow” can also be re-framed as “I am getting stronger”, “I am working on the little things that will help me improve and get faster”.
Remind yourself that this is a journey and at least half the fun should be this journey. Where did you start? How far have you come? Did you work hard last season and do the best you could do on any given day? Then remind yourself of this. Even if not every day was the day you had hoped for if you gave it your best then be proud of that. Look where you have made gains. Maybe your swim technique is better or you are no longer struggling with shin splints. Most of all remember, you are still a work in progress!
Look at your gear. Is there anything needing repair or maintenance? Do you need to replace anything or were there things that you found you were missing last season? Do you homework and figure out what you need then hit those end of the year sales and prepare for the next season.
For the next blog in the series, we’ll be starting with more technical aspects of the sport skills you need for Ironman. The goal will be that you especially focus on those skills you feel are not your strongest.
See you in the new year!