Athlete: ”So, um, coach. What do I do now?
Do I have an off season?
Is there an off season?
I did my best Ironman ever and now what???
I think I”m tired of training but…
But I want to get better.
I getting fat!
I am a better person if I keep training.
My family thinks I”m addicted to training and racing. Help!??? ”
Coach: “Settle in. Grab that latte, kick off your shoes and let’s dig in.”
Off season means many different things to all of us. You can find 101 conflicting views and spin your head around even faster if you wish. Define your own off season as best suits you, but do give it some thought. Your training focus and the rest of your life are cyclical in nature even if they seem constant. Define it for yourself or take a few bits from one perspective offered here.
The first thing you do after your racing season ends is you go home and rediscover your life. Make up with your family. Spend time time with your pet. Go on date night. Laugh with your kids. Get back to your hobbies that make you more than just swim/bike/run/race/repeat. Remember when you used to do other stuff? DO IT!
Chances are good that these precious people or pets put up with you and your hard training so now you owe them some serious time and energy. Give back. Pay attention. Listen. Laugh. Live a bit!
The second thing to start your off season is to take an inventory of your year. Honest reflection about missed workouts, race results, goals missed or achieved, injury, stress, and life balance are a few suggestions. Grade yourself. By doing this, you set the stage for next year by learning from last year. If you don’t learn, you will simply swim/bike/run/rinse and repeat without gaining insight or improving.
Third, now is the time to ask for expert help with the items you just listed. You can’t fake flexibility, health, a great diet, life balance, body composition, speed, a strong sport psyche, great workouts, functional strength, good form, etc. Treat yourself to an hour with a great teacher and get your learn on. Stop saying that something is “good enough.” Dare to say “This can improve.”
Finally, after you plan your next season, figure out how much play time to allow yourself and do it! Enjoy working out without the structure of training. If you don’t feel like starting again, you don’t have to! (Newsflash!!!) Listen to your instincts. If you can’t let go of your structured training for a bit, then you will return to it uninspired. Doing workouts because you “should” is the wrong reason.
There is no should. Take your time. There is just do. Do when you are ready and in love with training again.