Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Importance of Your "Off Season"

I received an email recently from a local coaching company touting how they don't believe in an "off season". This time of the year is "Pre-Season" not "Off-Season" they say. Improve your "limiter". It seems to me they've replaced sound coaching advice with company fiscal goals. (I also don't believe in the term "limiter"!)

An "off season" is absolutely necessary to prevent burn out, and provide a mental and physical break from what may have been 9+ months of racing for you. If you're a true exerciseaholic triathlete, as most of us are, you are not going to sit around and get fat in your off season. You will continue what coaches like to refer to as "active recovery".

Before you even think about going hiking or finally giving your slower friends a chance to go on a ride with you for fun, think about this: take a week or two off completely. Fix the leaky sink your spouse has been bugging you about for ages. Take your kids to the park (heck, if you chase them around, you'll even be doing some "active recovery" then!) Don't worry or think about "training". Just enjoy your life without it for a few weeks. Sleep in. Bake cookies. Enjoy the holidays.

Then, when you get the itch to do something, do whatever the heck you want. When I feel like getting my heart rate up just for the endorphin rush, I like to go do the elliptical at the gym. That way, I can read trashy magazines and/or watch E! on the gym tv and get in an hour long workout. Or I'll go to one of my gym's spinning classes and zone out to someone else's blaring tunes (I'll try to figure out which classes have younger instructors so I won't be stuck listening to oldies for an hour...but maybe you like that kind of music!)

My point is this: yes, you may be jazzed from your last competition. You know you can do better and want to do anything and everything you can to shave a few minutes off of your bike (new P3 this year, anyone?) or a few minutes off of your run & swim (massively expensive coach, anyone?). That's cool. But I swear you'll run yourself into the ground and into the poor house if you heed these coaching companies' "THERE'S NO OFF SEASON!" emails. (Translation: our business gets sluggish in the winter months, so we're going to guilt you into paying us now to make you faster!)

Go hiking. Learn how to surf. Go skiing. Showshoeing! XC skiing! You're a triathlete. You're an active person who loves to challenge him/herself outdoors. Try something new for no rhyme or reason. You may even gain some strength in muscles you don't typically use in your habitual tri training and return more fit than ever. Don't worry about gaining a little weight. Have you ever seen how fat some of those Tour de France guys get in their off season?

Everything in moderation. Check out the movie "Surf's Up". When you're not having fun anymore, you're doing something wrong (a surfing penguin even figured that one out). Taking no time off now because a coaching company has magically decided that a day after your last competition it's "Pre-Season" could be the straw that breaks your achey back.





How'd I do? Here's a hint:

World Champ

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