What's YOUR Plan?
Many athletes are great about planning their day/week/month/season, but what about planning their off season? ... or maybe next season?
POST "A" RACE PLANNING:
Most individuals find that without planning, things do not happen. This is most likely due to how busy our lives are. While it's great to have some unstructured time post "A" race, it's important to only let that period last 2-3 weeks and to have a plan for what lays ahead after that time is up.
Here is what I recommend, assuming you don't have anything else on your calendar.
- 2 weeks off of training. Yes OFF. You can exercise if you WANT to, but in my experience the athletes who skip this, end up regretting it 6 weeks later. YOU NEED A BREAK.
- 2 weeks of exercise. This is unstructured, but a good plan of attack is to shoot for some endurance exercise on most days, even if for only 30minutes.
- 2 weeks of aerobic re-introduction. A lot of athletes want to get back into intervals and training hard. While the mind might be ready, the body is not. Spend 2 weeks just going through the motions and keep the intensities easy.
After the above 6 weeks, THEN it's a great time to get into your off season goals and focuses.
OFF SEASON PLANNING:
My recommendations for the off season is to focus on your biggest weakness as an athlete. This is the time when you can afford to have a little imbalance within your training plan to improve your weakness.
Take a look back at your races and training sessions; what were you lacking and what do you need to do to improve? I will write on single sport focus later this fall, but this time is a great opportunity to make gains in these areas.
Cross-training and fun. This is a great time to make sure to have some fun. Cyclocross, XC skiing and some destination run races are great motivating factors that can contribute to overall fitness gains.
Many athletes don't want to think about next season right now, especially if racing an Ironman. However, what if you finish your big race and are faced with registration the next morning. You have to register or you lose the chance. Don't try to sort this out the night after doing a race, have a plan ahead of time and STICK TO IT!
If you are volunteering or spectating, it's equally important to have a plan. It's easy to get wrapped up in an over-enthusiastic friend who is going to race next year. Before you know it, you'll be registered, even if you really didn't want to.
I see it a lot, athletes wanting help for their upcoming races in January, March, June, even August. As a coach, I do the best I can with the time available, but when faced with 12 weeks to prepare an athlete for a race, how much can I actually do? The answer is not much more than race specific training and focus. What about improving weakness or doing an appropriate progression of training? Remember that each season builds on the previous one and that each season is different depending on the athlete, goals and races.
Remember to choose a coach who fits your needs as an athlete. If you are someone who needs and likes communication, make sure your coach is strong in that area. If you want a lot of technical data to look at, choose a coach who provides that. If you are a someone who likes perfect grammar and spelling, then you probably shouldn't choose myself ;)
In all seriousness, remember that you are a team with your coach and it should be easy to work together. It will sometimes it takes a month or so to get in sync, but you should feel like a team after that point.
Do yourself a big favor and give yourself a full year to prepare for next season. Remember that coaching is most effective over the long term.
I hope the above advice helps all of you make your best decisions regarding the off season and 2014!
Have a great week.