Sunday, December 8, 2013

Offseason Post #2 (The Training Post)

View from a trail run a 15 minute warm-up
jog from my house. Part of "do whatever
workouts sound fun" plan.
In my last post I blogged about what I’ve been up to during my offseason. I tried not to go into too much detail about the workouts, or rather lack of workouts, I’ve been doing, because I didn’t want it to overshadow the wine tasting and cooking classes and other things I’ve been doing for fun. But the truth is in order to set myself up for success in 2014 I still have to take note of my health and fitness.

I’ve learned from my past experiences. Ever since I’ve been a semi-serious triathlete (i.e. working with a coach, trying to climb podiums, making it a lifestyle, etc.), there has been a dedicated “off-season.” After 2010 I hit it  [rest] hard, because I was pretty burnt out after my first trip to Kona. I allowed myself only one run and one bike per week and light swimming and yoga when I could get myself out of bed. It paid great dividends and set me up for an excellent 2011 season. After 2011, I think I fooled myself into thinking I didn’t need much of a break. I had one month without coaching after Kona, then I ran NYC marathon, and then I started training for my 2012 season. During my month off, I fell mountain biking, f-ed up my shoulder, and couldn’t swim for 2 months. Looking back, it’s no wonder 2012 didn’t go great; I went into the season not fully rested and a little injured. After 2012, I didn’t really have a plan, but my off-season was rather long (September – December) and I followed the “whatever workouts sound fun” training method. It’s a great method, but it doesn’t give you time to work on your weaknesses while you have some spare time.
There are some good articles out there about how to spend your off-season. I liked this one by Matt Lieto and his advice on allowing some structure for the type-As, as well as some ceilings not to allow too much. I try not to worry much about my weight this time of year, or really ever. Rather than throwing my healthy eating habits out the window, they pretty much stay consistent with the rest of the year. I bake around 8-10 batches of cookies this time of year for my annual Christmas run, so maybe it’s the behind the scenes manhandling of the sugar and butter that turns me off from eating too many sweets. I also try to sleep a lot (10 hours last night!). That has to be good for something, right?! Another great offseason post is this one by Alyssa Godesky.
As far as workouts, I’m trying to be a little smarter about working on some weaknesses and areas that need attention without overdoing it in terms of intensity or volume. Over the past few years, I’ve noticed aches and pains that have started creeping in. [If you don’t follow the Twitter handle @thisis30, you probably should. I don’t think I had these issues in the W25-29 AG.] None of the aches have kept me sidelined, but my left leg is consistently a jerk and it’d be nice to not a have a sore piriformis (pain in the ass). I made an appointment with a Sports Injury Specialist/Chiropractor who happens to sponsor my triathlon team. Dr. Rindal did an overall assessment and identified areas of weakness and inflexibility (tons). He then gave me a handful of exercises and foam rolling to do a few times a week to improve these areas. It’s hard to say just yet how this will transfer over into injury prevention over the next year, but I can already tell my hip abductors and lower abdominal muscles are stronger than they were a month ago. I’ll check in with him later this month and throughout my 2014 season. More importantly, I'm hoping I develop some good stretching and strength habits. Depending on your insurance, it can be a fairly inexpensive way to boost your athletic performance. Keep in mind that if you have a Health Savings Account (HSA), this is a good way to use up the money before the 31st.
Just like training plans, there’s no perfect solution to fit everyone’s needs in an offseason. It depends on the past year and what kind of season you have ahead of you. But based on my experience, finding ways to enter the new year fully rested, injury free, with perhaps small improvements in some areas (flexibility, strength, stronger hips, etc.), will set you up for a successful season. But most importantly, take some time to relax and enjoy the holidays with your friends and family.
Best of the Season!

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