There are many names to describe the phase that occurs between the end of a racing season and the start of more structured, specific training stress.
Other coaches have different names for this phase. For example, Matt Dixon with Purple Patch Fitness uses the word "post-season".
The transition (base) phase of training is critical to athlete development. As I mentioned in my previous blog post, preparation for an event is more than just putting in the miles.
As athletes, we are always developing and we are always training in some capacity.
In order to maximize fitness, season after season, it is important to follow a periodized training plan that allows for progression. There must be specific emphasis on peak season training as well as the training to start the season.
Within Trimarni, we create plans that are organized in a way that our athletes are developing skills, endurance and strength before progressing with more intense or longer training.
Therefore, it is important that coaches and athletes see each phase of training as a progression from the previous phase.
A periodized training plan sets you up for a great performance at your most important events throughout the season.
With the off-season emphasizing little to no activity for many athletes, with a combined freedom to indulge a bit more than normal, it is extremely important that you are taking the right steps to prepare your body for your next phase of training.
Would you buy a house if the builders rushed through the foundation? How would you feel if the house you have desired to live in for the next 10 years was built by construction workers who liked to take short-cuts, just to get the final product done faster than their competitors?
Regardless of how many years you have been training as an athlete in your sport of choice, we all need an off-season and we all need to follow that part of the season with a return to the basics, addressing weaknesses and of course, laying down the foundation to which upcoming training stress will be placed onto the body.
It's really hard to get the off-season right but maybe that's because there is no right way. But you do need an off-season.
Every athlete is different and the goals of the off-season for one athlete do not have to match the goals of another athlete. Also, each season may follow with a different off-season. This year, I returned to light structured training after 3 weeks of an off-season (after Kona) but in 2014, I took 6 voluntary weeks off with very little exercise.
So as you think about your next phase of training and perhaps, begin to get excited to train with more structure again, I find it extremely important to encourage you to make sure that your body is in great health before you begin training again.
You do not have to have race day fitness or a race day body image when you finish your off-season but you should be in good health before starting your next phase of training.
Although a mental and physical break are necessary for a smooth progression from one season to the next, it is important that you see the off-season as an integral part of your athletic development. We don't want to make the off-season too long as you do not lose all that you gained in the previous season. And when your off-season is over, it is important to have a smart return to training by building your foundation as you focus on getting stronger before trying to get faster, before going longer.
Not just training where you left off with high volume or high intensity.
There's a lot that you need to focus on between workouts to ensure consistency in training with a healthy body.
As you give your mind and body a break from training, your health is top priority in your off-season.
As you approach your first phase of training, be sure you are prepared for it.
Take care of your body now so it will take care of you next season.