For most October marked the end of the summer as well as the end racing season. Some of you are already looking forward to next year, evidenced by the increased attendance of our members at the training center and the amount of training and coaching inquiries we are getting daily.
Every year the word 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.
Transition phase comes after every big race period. During the season the transition phase is short and lasts between 3 days to 2 weeks and it allows us to recover, reflect and plan for your 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 at the pre-season will make the best transition into your next season.
Over the past 20 some years I have seen people go completely out of shape at the end of the race season and starting all over again and show very little progress from year to year. Other athletes train so hard and arrive at top shape comes January just to lose interest or get injured just before racing starts. I suggest a more moderate approach to fall training, an approach that progressively put you at the start of the season in a better position than last year and insures 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 performance and your next season goals should play a major factor in deciding what to focus on. 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 base on your last season 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 as much as you can and just maintain the other sports with one workout per week. (Swim Technique Class and Iron-Fit I are great options to improve your technique!)
Another important thing you should try and do at the pre-season is incorporating weight training into your routine. It is a known fact that endurance performance dramatically improves with strength and 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 start developing strength by adding more weight and more complex movement exercises. Don’t just jump into plyometric, lifting a heavy weight or extremely hard movement patterns that will almost guarantee extreme sourness and even injuries. Well-Fit will be offering a Strength and Conditioning class beginning in November.
Add some fun activities to your routine. Activities like team sports energies you differently and make you a better overall athlete. Moderation is the key to a successful pre-season training. Set up your routine in a way that doesn’t stress your schedule or interrupts your sleep.
The fall is a great time to plan your next racing season. Although races are not filling up as fast as previous years, however, keep in mind that prices are going up every few weeks. For most age-group 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 moderate progression. Start with shorter races and finish with the big effort race. A more aggressive approach will be to plan your races based on the performance you want to achieve in your big A race. In other words, use early racing to sharpen on specific elements that are needed for the performance you want to have in your most important race. Once you have your races set, set up goals and draw your training objectives.
Remember, the winter is the most important training phase of your plan. Good and uninterrupted winter training will insure solid race season. Plan your routine and make sure you lineup your support team and training facilities. Seems like a lot? Use a professional coach to help you set it all up.
Enjoy you the fall and set yourself up for success next year!