Monday, October 24, 2005

Fall and Tri Training

I'm back! Had a wonderful experience representing Team USA at Worlds in Hawaii, what a blast. I now know that there are not only neat triathletes in this country, but throughout the world. Met some great folks, heard some very inspiring stories, and felt very lucky to be part of the whole deal.

As I look out my window and see the amazing fall colors, the dreary ski, and am reminded that we have a minimum of four months of "winter" training here in the Midwest, I thought I'd share some of my thoughts on this time of year and training:

1. After your last race of the season, take a bit of time and "check out" with no guilt!!! It is not only good for your body and mind, it is good for you as an athlete. Most people finish their seasons and are either motivated to start right away by a great last race, or they are motivated by not quite finishing a race up to their potential. Either one can be a huge motivator, but you don't want to hit things too much too soon, only to be burned out by June when you should be ramping up.

2. Cross train! Get out and enjoy a mountain bike (okay VM, hit the garage sales), hike, x-country ski, do some trail running. We have so much structure as our "A" races approach, I think it's key to be a bit more unstructured this time of year. Go discover a new sport you typically don't have time to do.

3. Assess your past season/set goals for 2006. The key to getting better as an athlete is to consistently evaluate your progress, learn from mistakes, and get a bit more creative with your training (physical AND mental preparation.) There is SO much that keeps us going in this sport, challenge yourself to set measurable goals and then create a roadmap to get you there.

4. Access some "resident pro's". If you are just getting into this sport, you can cut your learning curve immensely by doing some private lessons, camps/clinics, or hiring a coach. There are great resources on the Internet and some quality books as well. Challenge yourself to learn more about the sport, training techniques, and even nutrition and strength training. The opportunities to improve yourself are endless.

5. Give back! Get out and volunteer at a race, mentor someone who's never done a tri, take some of your old equipment and donate it to a kid's team (there is a non-profit group in downtown Chicago called Tri Masters that does amazing things with inner city youth).

6. Hit the weight room. This time of the season is the most undervalued of any, but the part where you can make the biggest gains for next year. Working on functional strength, muscle imbalance, core stability will help you in all 3 disciplines, and more importantly, reduce your risk of injury.

7. Rekindle the "balance" in your life. It is very easy in our sport to get caught up in the training volume, obsess over that first Ironman, etc., but it is KEY to take this time and rekindle the balance in our lives that seems to teeter toward the end of the season. We can't do this sport without the support (and sacrifice) of our families. Make sure they know how much this means and make it a point to take that extra time you are not training and make it count. Get your family involved in some of your fun x-training, you are going to need them SMILING as you cross that finish line at IM Madison VM!

8. Last, but not least is focus on your "less perfect" discipline (I hate the word limiter). We all love doing what we succeed in, but this is the time of year to address the things we are not so successful in. Evaluate last season. Is it biomechanics? Training intensity? Volume? Injuries? Try and pinpoint what specifically you need to address, and start working on it now.

I may be "preaching to the choir" here, but I think it's always good to know that it is OK, and even healthy to be feeling a bit less focused this time of year, and to know that backing off the structure is okay, and will make that structure come January that much more meaningful.

Enjoy your fall and get those goals set for 2006!



Shelley said...

wow, this is great and perfect timing for me..I needed this post..thanks!!!

nancytoby said...

Welcome back! And great post! I have lots of limiters (I don't mind the word!) that I'll be working on adjusting this winter.

Flatman said...

Great post, Coach! Thanks...

Cliff said...

Love those preaches and keep them coming :) It is not some advance techqniue we need. It is the fundamentals we have to work on. Again and again. Refine and refine.

I really agree with mentoring someone else. I am trying to get my friends into running. I just realized that a race I was planning to run in March, my friend is doing it as well. The event has a 5 k and 30 k run. She is doing a 5 k. I figure I will do the 5 k with her. This will be mine S race (socializing).

William said...

Great idea's. It's hard taking time off but it's easier when just changing focus on something else for a week or two.

mipper said...

thanks for the advice coach! just what we all needed.

I Can Tri said...

Thanks, CoachK, for the much needed reminder that "it" doesn't happen all at once..."by small and simple things, great things shall come to pass."