Friday, September 22, 2017

What's Next?

I am officially in "off season".  Or as badass coach Jen Rulon calls it: "the Season of Improvement".  I think that's a better way to look at the down time between the last race of your season and the time you start to build for the following season.  Off season kind of implies that you're taking time off.  That being said, I suppose you could say you're taking time off from structured training i.e focusing on hitting certain paces or power numbers.  This is the season to re-charge mentally and physically and not put a bunch of pressure on yourself to tick all the green boxes in your Training Peaks account.  In fact, ideally there are LESS boxes in your Training Peaks account.  This is not the time to be concerned about volume.  You want to do enough to maintain a good base of fitness.

This is the perfect time to focus on your limiters.  The things that need improvement.  If it's your swim, then maybe you drop a run workout and replace it with an extra swim workout that is technique focused.  This is also the time to bring strength training back into your life.  You don't have the heavy training load, you don't need to worry about DOMS affecting your ability to hit certain paces or numbers.  There couldn't be a better time to start working on your strength.

This is also an excellent time to go out and do things that you may not have tried during race season.  I'd say that's part and parcel of re-charging mentally.  It's nice to take the focus away from structured training and just do things for fun without worrying about hurting yourself or if the whatever it is you're doing will affect your training.

I've got a few plans for my "Season of Improvement".  Firstly, I'm planning on adding one day of swimming a week that is purely a drill and technique based swim.  It won't be too long, maybe half an hour to 40 minutes max.  I really need to work on the entry and catch phase of my stroke.  When my hands go in the water, they just sort of hang out until they get to my waist and then I feel them pulling the water.  So, I foresee a whole lot of sculling in my future.  Time for me to figure out how to use the drill function on my 920xt.

Next on my list of "things to work on" is my run form.  There are a few small tweaks that I'd like to make.  My cadence is good (anywhere between 176-192 depending on how fast I'm running) but I'm not driving my knees up enough so I feel like I'm missing out on some of the gait cycle.  I also need to work on keeping my shoulders back and up.  I'm still rotating a fair bit at my shoulders and that needs to stop.   I believe that these things are muscle and mobility related so before I can tackle new movement patterns, I need to work on my mobility to allow those movement patterns to happen.  This is something I've started to work on daily.   A few minutes a day of dedicated mobility work with a yoga strap, some bands and a lacrosse ball, usually when I'm watching TV.  Hopefully it pays off when I start to build my mileage again for 2018.

While I'm not a huge fan of riding in the cooler fall temps (which don't seem to be happening right now - YAY!), I do love touring around country roads on two wheels and checking out the foliage.  So there will be a lot of that this fall.  There will also be some time spent working on my skills.  Just because triathletes race generally bikes in straight lines, doesn't mean you can't benefit from bettering your bike handling skills.  It will make you a more confident rider when you're around other people and in traffic.  Bettering your skills means riding outside.  My bike handling skills have improved immensely since riding with Morning Glory but I do think there is some room for improvement.  So, I've bought myself an entry level cyclocross bike and  I'm planning on going to the Midweek Cycling Club Tuesday night races starting in October.  Nothing like learning how to handle a bike on GRASS and dirt.  I'm a little scared, but this year has been all about doing things that scare me.

Speaking of things that scare me, I will be bringing strength training back into my life in the form of TEACHING classes.  Yup.  Scaredy cat me is leading a lower body conditioning class at Pur Energy Wellness Lofts on Thursday mornings at 10:30am.  I will be leading other classes as well once the strength studio opens up.  So, not only am I getting a workout in, but I get to work out with other people AND get paid for it.  I taught my first class yesterday and it was SO AWESOME.  I was super pumped after.  I am pretty sore today.  My Garmin told me it was going to take me 21 hours to recover from that workout so yeah, I kicked my own ass for sure.

My first day greeting! 
I love this time of year because you have usually just finished your triathlon race season and can take the time to reflect on what went well, what you might change and what you need to work on while all of it is still fresh in your mind.  I think reflection is important in your growth as an athlete and this is the best time to do it.  It's also a great time to start thinking about your 2018 goals and looking for someone to help you get there.  As a coach, I've noticed in the last 2 years that October and November have been busy months for me.  I have some athletes wrapping up their racing season with fall races and other athletes (usually triathletes) that want to start working on their base fitness for a build to a big summer race.  If you're looking for either run or triathlon coaching, I will have limited spaces opening up at the beginning of November.  Hit me up if you want details or you can go to my coaching website.

G and I have been taking full advantage of our down time.  I've started volunteering with the Morning Glory Grass Tracks program on Wednesday evenings and we've been out pretty much every night this week at various social gatherings.  We've really dialled our workouts back.  I swam on Wednesday and it was probably one of the best swims I've had in a while.  So the bit of time off we've taken has helped us recover so we perform better.   Come the beginning of October, we'll get back into something a bit more structured.  For now I'm enjoying doing what I want, when I want.

Is your season done or do you have fall races planned?  What do you want to work on in your season of improvement?

TGIF Gang, enjoy your weekend!

~ Coach PK

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