With my last race of the season complete last weekend in Ladera Ranch (any Go Juice I had left was cooked out of me), I got thinking about how to handle post-season blues and make the beginning of the “off-season” as enjoyable as possible. After all, I had a year marked with several extreme highs, many enjoyable races, and a lot of firsts. Expecting and preparing for a bit of letdown will help me enjoy and get the most out of this short transition period from race mode to off-season.
1. I take some real time off training. I don’t plan any workouts or rides for about 2 weeks. If I ride, I ride only for the enjoyment of the activity and only if I breathe through my nose. If I have to open my mouth for more air, I’m going too hard and deserve a time out at the nearest coffee shop that also serves pastries. If I don’t get to ride, I don’t feel guilty about it. Usually, I get withdrawal symptoms earlier than 2 weeks and feel like doing something. But I try to wait until my body says, “Lets get the blood moving again!”
2. During this time, some athletes indulge in all the forbidden foods usually cut way back when in serious training and racing mode. Well, since I don’t cut back much, there is no indulgent period for me. If you are one that does watch what you eat (I watch it go right into my mouth), then allow yourself some treats. Remember to keep everything in moderation.
3. I have a list of things I’ve had on the backburner all season. All those, “if I wasn’t training/racing so much, I’d have more time to….” Things like books I’d like to read, projects around the house, or something educational since training and racing fries my brain cells, making it near impossible for me to learn anything except how to train and race better. I’ve been looking at guitars and lessons for a few months now; perhaps I’ll learn this fall.
4. After some real time off, I’m itching to start moving again, so I do what feels good. I enjoy some cross-training that might not be a regular part of my season, things like yoga, hiking, or fun social runs (OMG, did I just type R-U-N?!). Most of these are less time-consuming as my training rides, so an added benefit is more time with my family. I better make sure they are ok with this…
5. Part of the reason for post-season blues is a sudden lack of goals. So, for me, it a good time to think about the events I’d like to compete in next season. I will think about races I want to do again, new ones to try, or ones I will avoid (which is none; I’ve never met a race I didn’t like). This might seem premature, but my off-season plan is dependent on whether I will attempt early-season road races, mid-season stage races, or stick to crits and increase my track racing. We’re talking big picture here, since the 2013 schedule isn’t yet posted and I STILL haven’t heard from my agent.
6. Once I’ve had a good body and mind break from structured training and I’m feeling recharged and motivated, it is time to plan my off-season workouts. (Who else thinks “off-season” is a misnomer?) I look forward to crushing it in the gym and to sharing this season’s highs and lows with a whole new audience.