For a lot of athletes, enjoying the off season comes easy and taking a break from training is welcomed. I usually don’t handle the off season well, but luckily I didn’t have a choice this year. My wife and I moved our life out to the west coast and I was busy for a good month to make sure we had a place, jobs, movers, etc. I don’t know how I’m going to keep busy next off season. Maybe move to Hawaii?? Then there are athletes like me that hate to take time off from training, but I believe you need multiple breaks from training every year in order to get the most out of yourself and, most importantly, not get burnt out. As endurance athletes, we can’t ask our bodies and our minds to get put through the ringer day in and day out, 365 days a year. Those athletes that try to go hard all the time can get so burnt out that they won’t have any choice but to take a forced break. I think taking a break or off season is most important for the mind. Our limitations are made in our heads and we can go as far as our minds let us. Taking time off lets our brain recharge and refocus. It doesn’t have to be long- sometimes all we need is a day, but make sure you are giving yourself a break once in a while! Here are my top 5 tips on how to enjoy your off season:
- Leave all training tools at home- If you can’t help but to head out for a run, bike, or whatever, make sure you leave your watch or bike computer at home. You don’t want to get caught up in pacing, how far you’ve gone, etc. Workout by feel and do it for the reason you started- it’s fun and you love it. I enjoy running quite a bit during my off season. My runs aren’t structured in the off season and I leave my watch at home and run until I’m satisfied.
- Take up a new hobby or learn a new skill- During last year’s off season, I went back to school and became a Culinary Nutrition Expert. I wanted to learn more about food and nutrition and to be able to cook daily for my wife and I. It was one of the best things I’ve ever done and it kept me busy learning instead of worrying about training. Cutting back from 10-20+ hours a week of training to just a few hours will leave you will plenty of time to try something completely new if you want to. Take a cooking class, try yoga, learn a new language…whatever you want!
- You will NOT lose all your fitness- Don’t worry about losing all your fitness and having to start back at square one again. Unless your off season is going to be a few months and your new hobby is beer and potato chips, you won’t lose all your fitness. It took you all year to build up your base and some good fitness. It doesn’t disappear overnight. Yes, you are going to lose some of it, especially the high end, faster, race pace type fitness, but it’s the off season and you don’t need to have that race type fitness for a long time. Remember, we can’t be in top race shape all year long- no matter who you are.
- Focus on a specific area of your training- Not the greatest swimmer and want to improve that area? Off season and early season is the perfect time to do a big swim specific block of training where you put the riding and running off to the side so you can narrow in on the swim. It’s what I’m doing this year as well as a couple of my athletes. Being a multisport athlete, it’s pretty hard to focus on your weaknesses during the middle of the season when you need to be putting in the big bike and run miles. Choosing a month during the off season to do these single sport training blocks is a fantastic way to reach that next level in your fitness and training. If you’re not a triathlete and a runner only, you could focus on a strength routine, increasing flexibility, or having a coach look at your running and see if you can get more efficient. Take the time in your off season to increase or add a new skill to your arsenal for next race season.
- Use your extra time to do the things you love- You’ve been so busy during the race season that I’m sure you’ve had to give up some of the things you love to do. Off season is the time to get back to those things while you have the time! Spend more time with your family, go hiking, travel, learn new recipes in the kitchen, binge watch a TV show you’ve been dying to watch (I’m halfway done Scrubs, awesome show), or read a book.
The off season doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It’s such a great time to do the things you’ve had to neglect during the season to make yourself the best athlete you could. I hope my tips help and if anything, just remind you athletes that might be about to freak out about the off season that it’s necessary and is a good thing. Even the best athletes in the world take time off. Enjoy the break and do something productive with it! I am taking athletes on now for the remainder of 2015 and into 2016. If you need a coach, fill out the contact form below with some details and I’ll get back to you soon.