Thursday, November 14, 2013

The "Take it Easy" Season

Off season, out season, transition period, dream season. Whatever you want to call it, this is the time when most multisporters should be taking it easy. If you follow the traditional Florida triathlon race calendar, you probably began racing in late March and finished sometime in the fall. There were over ten races on the Gulf Winds Triathlon Club’s Grand Prix schedule for this year. Some members participated in close to all races; that is a lot of training, traveling, and racing.

It can be hard for those of us who are accustomed to days structured around workouts, training goals, early bedtimes and alarm clocks, to not have a race on the near horizon. When we are so used to going after the carrot at the end of the stick, once we’ve reached it, what do we do?

I’m a big believer in taking a moment to enjoy the carrot and think about the journey that led me to it. And this is best done a couple of weeks after my last race of the season, when the transition bag is in the closet for good, the race kit has been washed and put away, and the racing flats are in the donation pile.

This mental and physical break is important for me to take after my last race of the year. While I still enjoy exercising for the stress relief and physical well-being, I’m not concerned with splits, paces, or times. It’s more exercise than training.

I use this down time to look back on my training and racing from the past year. And not just what went well and what didn’t, but the specifics of the year. In racing: what were my strengths and weaknesses compared to my competitors, how was my mental game, what races did I enjoy or would rather not go back to? I take stock of my equipment. Is it time to get a new bike or maybe this is the year to get race wheels? Workouts and training sessions are also evaluated: did I find a good balance of tempo sessions and speed work, how was my strength on the bike? Hopefully, you have a coach or trusted training partner you can go through these questions with, someone objective who can be honest with you.

Once the yearly evaluation is complete, planning for the next year begins. While it may seem early to start planning for races months away, coming up with a rough race schedule helps to nail down key dates in your training year, such as when to start building up your base again, when important training blocks will take place, and when to stop eating spoonfuls of cookie butter. Obligations such as personal and professional commitments are important to consider when looking at your proposed schedule. Think about what you want to get out of the next year. Is it to build up miles for an upcoming Ironman, regain some lost speed, win your age group in the Grand Prix? Again, it helps to have someone to discuss these ideas with you, to help you narrow down your options or encourage you to set the bar higher.

Remember, it is only November. Most likely, your first triathlon is not until March. That is four months away. Enjoy this down time while you have it. Enjoy sleeping in, going out with friends, and spending money on non-triathlon items. You do not want to be thinking “I wish I had done…” a few weeks before your first race of the year.

Oh how I love thee....
Come talk about how your season went and what you have planned for next year at Monday’s Gulf Winds Triathlon Club meeting. It starts at 6:30 at the Momo’s on Market Street. 

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