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Be About It

CPC's Blog About Health and Wellness

Off-Season: Who Needs it? You Do!

Thursday, 11 / 14 / 19

Today’s blog, while relevant to all, will be most applicable to my endurance loving pals. I’ll challenge all readers to stay with me and see just how an endurance athlete’s mindset is really no different than most if you put your own professional, personal, or recreation spin on it.

November literally roared in on a windstorm and with that should bring a time in an endurance athlete’s calendar to step away from formal training for a time and focus on rest and regeneration. Reconnect with friends that you haven’t seen in awhile. Do more fun things. Take the formality and intention out of your workouts and train because you actually love to get and move. 

Endurance athletes have this amazing capacity to do work. It is what makes them such unique creatures. They, myself included, enjoy testing their physical limits and seeing just how much their bodies can endure. 

Inevitably the ability to turn off the constant training machine becomes harder and harder. The desire to maintain this mountain of fitness that has been gained is so hard to let go of that training continues, and it continues well into the weeks and months past the last scheduled race of the year. The mindset of endurance athletes may not be fully understood by most. It is their capacity to do work that allows for goals to be met and physical barriers challenged. Speaking as a triathlete the hours spent preparing for each training session, each meal, juggling life and work is like another discipline in itself. The time and effort put into training, planning, and scheming has a much larger cost than just the physical fatigue. At the end of a very long and arduous training season the body is more than just physically spent. The nervous system isn’t sure what’s up. Fight or flight isn’t a question anymore it’s always ready to throw punches. Patience is short. Very short. Sleep is restless. Heart rates go through the roof after a seemingly easy run. The list goes on, but you get the point. I’ve experienced this after every big race and training weekend. I continue to experience it when I am not as diligent about recognizing how crazy my life and training has gotten when I’m not training for a big race. This is why off-season becomes so critical to an endurance athlete. 

Endurance athlete or not take some time to reflect on how you feel, what your training load looks like, and when was the last time you truly took a step back from training

November, in New England, is the perfect time to enforce a true off-season. Take the month to step away from organized workouts. Allow all of those nagging injuries that you have spent ignoring for months to heal or finally address. Get more sleep! Sleep is the most critical component to recovery and none of us get enough. Our lives and training are more important than a good night of quality sleep. Begin to battle some of those inner demons that may have pushed you into 20+ hour training weeks with no rest week after week. Seek a better balance between strict data driven training and enjoyable “no need to set a watch for this” workouts. Enlist your friends to force you away from the temptation to lay down a pavement burning run, opting instead for a sexy pace that allows you and your friend for some much needed catch up. ik

For those of you who don’t run unless zombies are chasing you or would never jump on a bike unless it was for a trip to the local coffee shop, thank you for humoring me this far. Now I challenge you to take a step back and look at your life. While you may not fit the exact mold or mindset of the endurance junkie, you too have tendencies in your world that deserve recognition. Life is constantly throwing something into the mix that needs to be dealt with. It’s one stressor after another, good or bad, self-imposed or not. It’s still stress. Acknowledge that the need for an off-season isn’t a foreign idea. Maybe it’s a lighter week of work, sending the kids to the grandparents for a long weekend. Or, a change in your fitness routine. The intent is to allow the body and the mind to rest and recovery so you can give your absolute best when it’s time to step back into the daily routine.

The second week of November is already here. Endurance athlete or not take some time to reflect on how you feel, what your training load looks like, and when was the last time you truly took a step back from training. If you have to think about it then it’s time to take a few weeks or maybe months of Off-Season. Breaking routine may drive you hair pulling mad but the pay-off on the other side is a stronger more focused season ahead. From one endurance junkie to the next it’s not going to be easy, but you can do it.

TAGS: Endurance, Off-Season
Sarah Kelly