By Athlete Ambassador, Lesley Maisey
They call it the “post-season” but they used to call it the “off-season”. Any competitive athlete knows what I mean…that unstructured time after several months filled with themes such as build week, recovery days, taper period and race day. Without all that structure I do feel a bit “off” so maybe the old label was more appropriate!
A fun social run for Halloween
I think the athlete’s biggest fear during this time is losing fitness, at least for me that is the worry. I have searched for the magic formula that calculates just how much time is best for full recovery to avoid burnout and optimize the physiological benefits of months of training but of course there is no such broad sweeping solution. All the articles I read say “it depends.” It depends on whether you are a lifetime athlete or new to sport. It depends on whether you are an endurance athlete or focus on shorter more intense activities. It depends on age, gender, muscle mass, resting heart rate, and VO2max. Too many variables for just one answer.
Time with friends
So in the absence of a decision supported by science, I resort to one driven by emotion. For the first two weeks in my post season, my drive to get going for a long, hard run or intense ride is rather low. I am happy to jump in the pool and swim and while I still count each 25m length, it’s not timed or structured. If I feel like swimming freestyle I will but if I want to stretch and glide in breast stroke that’s ok too. I’ll run and just enjoy the feeling of freedom as I tour around my community or watch a sit-com with a Rob while I spin out my legs on my bike/indoor trainer combo. After about two weeks that nagging feeling of guilt coupled with a sense of loss kicks in. While it’s great to have a bit more time in the week, I miss that feeling of being so in tune with my body that I don’t have to actually see the monitor reading of my heart rate to know what it is.
Cross training on a wet Grouse Grind day!
This year I will deal with this weird feeling by developing a number of plans. A maintenance plan, a strength plan, and a next season race plan. I will cross train and incorporate some short but intense workouts into my week. Dust off the mountain bike, skate skis and snowshoes as winter brings a new playground. It’s time to focus on weight loss and doing more fasted state sessions because during the race season, the caloric requirements for performance and recovery are too important to mess with. It’s time to do other things for fun and explore some new challenges. I’m 2 weeks into a 30 day body weight circuit challenge and embracing the heavy feeling in my upper body and the burn in my legs. Bring on the “off-season” as it will only make me better!