Training and the Transition Period
Most northern hemisphere athletes have started or soon will be starting their Transition periods. This is a time often called the “off season.” And that’s probably as good a name as any and descriptive of what this time of the year is all about — taking time off from training. That doesn’t mean, however, that you just sit around eating potato chips while watching Oprah, even if that is sort of what elite Kenyan runners do. Well, maybe not chips and Oprah, but most of them do indeed stop running and gain a few kilos. Porking up by 20 to 30 pounds has even been reported for some Kenyan harriers in their off seasons. They take seasonal rest seriously. You should, too. You’ll race much better next season if you get some serious rest now.
Although I wouldn’t recommend gaining that much excess flab in a few week’s time, you really do need to let go of your hard-earned, high fitness level. Trying to maintain it will not be beneficial to your next season’s results. It simply isn’t possible to be in top shape every week for the entire year. Trying to do so will likely lead to mental burnout if injury, illness or overtraining doesn’t get you first.
Give up on the idea of staying in race shape all winter. Instead, decide when it is you will want to have an excellent level of fitness in the coming season. It will probably take you, at most, something like 24 weeks to achieve such top-end race-readiness again. If you have more than six months until your next A-priority race relax your training regimen for a few weeks.
In fact, let’s not even call what you’ll be doing in the Transition period “training.” Call it “exercise” instead. Training is focused and has a purpose. It’s far too serious for now. On the other hand, exercise is something you do because it feels good while it keeps your bathroom scales under control.
Exercise as much as you want in the off season, only don’t create a plan. Don’t even think ahead. Just do what you feel like doing every day. That includes doing nothing. If you decide to exercise keep it easy. Give your body a break. Don’t be concerned with power, heart rate, or pace. Avoid other athletes who are already training hard. You know the type. They are doing intervals and hard group workouts when it doesn’t count for anything. They’re “Christmas Stars” and won’t be around next spring. They shine brightly now but will fade in the new year.
Be creative with your exercise. Do something different from what you might normally do. Go for a hike with your spouse instead of running. Attend a yoga class instead of going for a ride. Just have fun.
It will soon be time to get started training again. You’ll know when the time is right because you won’t be able to stand going easy any longer and you’ll be constantly thinking about next year’s races. When the time to train hard again comes there will be little room for anything else in your life. You know how it goes. So now is the time to do some of those things you wish you could do the rest of the year if you were a “normal” person.
Labels: transition period