Thoughts on Fall Training
By Coach Sharone Aharon
For most, mid-September marked the end of the summer as well as the end of racing season. Some of you are already looking forward to next year, as evidenced by the increased attendance of our members at the training center and the amount of training and coaching inquires we get daily.
Every year the battle of whether to call this time of the year the “off-season” or “pre-season” starts right about now. I suggest that we call it transition phase and include both the “off” and the “pre”-season terms to make the most of it.
A transition phase comes after every big race period. During the season, the transition phase is short and lasts between 3 days to 2 weeks, allowing us to recover, reflect and plan for our next racing peak. At the end of the season the transition phase is longer, 1 to 3 months, but has the same purpose; take a break, recover, reflect and plan. It’s the balance between the time you take off training and the training you do during pre-season that creates the best transition into your next season.
Over the past 20-something years I have seen people get completely out of shape at the end of the race season, starting all over again and showing very little progress from year to year. Other athletes train too hard and arrive at top shape in January, just to lose interest or get injured before racing starts. I suggest a more moderate approach to fall training, which is designed to progressively put you at the start of the season in a better position than last year and insure a greater peak in your next race phase.
Start with off-season, which means no training for a period of one week to three weeks. Let the stress of the past season dissipate before you go at it again. Give yourself a complete mental, physical and yes a dietary break. Losing some fitness and gaining some weight will help you recover faster. During this period you should plan your activities for the pre-season phase. At the end of the off-season period you should feel energized and excited to train again.
The pre-season phase should prepare you for your next season. Last season’s performance and your next season’s goals should play a major factor in deciding where to focus. Start with the end in mind; what is your most important goal for next season? Once you know that, think of the one or two things you need to improve on based on last season’s performance and set a plan to work on them. Whether it’s swimming, biking or running, I suggest you start with improving your technique and later add more fitness. Don’t do everything at the same time. Focus on one sport, build it up as much as you can and just maintain the other sports with one workout per week.
Another important thing you should try to do during the pre-season is to incorporate weight training into your routine. It is a known fact that endurance performance dramatically improves with proper conditioning. The pre-season period is the best time to start lifting. Start your strength routine with a focus on proper movement patterns, core and joint stability. Once you accomplish that, then start developing strength by adding more weight and more complex movement exercises. Don’t just jump into plyometric, lifting heavy weights or extremely hard movement patterns that will almost guarantee injuries.
Add some fun activities to your routine. Activities like team sports energize you differently and make you a better overall athlete. Moderation is the key to a successful pre-season. Set up your routine in a way that doesn’t stress your schedule or interrupt your sleep.
In addition to training, the fall is a good time to plan your next racing season. Keep in mind that races are filling up quicker than ever and you might have to make decisions fast. For most athletes, planning two peaks periods per year is ideal. Plan your first peak to be early in the spring and the second at the middle of the summer or early fall. Build your race season with a moderate progression. Start with shorter races and finish with the big effort race. Once you have your races set, set up goals and state your training objectives. The winter is the most important training phase of your plan. Focused and uninterrupted winter training will ensure a solid race season. Plan your routine and make sure you line up your support and training facilities as well.
Seem like a lot to consider and figure out on your own? Well-Fit has professional coaches on hand to help you set it all up, answer all your questions and avoid the stress. Don’t hesitate to contact us for more information.
Enjoy your fall, relax and have fun. When it’s time to think about training, you should now have the tools to set yourself up for a successful season in 2012.
Contact Coach Sharone with questions