You can try to deny it, but the facts are the facts. You are off of your game. I am speaking to myself here. I have had a cold for so long now it is officially my buddy. I enjoyed a long, lingering decline, banking off of the bottom of the wave and cruising back up for months, but the gains of fall and winter are now squandered. There comes a point when you can’t just ride yourself back to the top of your game. Some off-season conditioning is required. Here is what some random internet source says about the “off-season.” I agree with most of it, but not #3 (totally ludicrous) and I am not an athlete, I am a bike rider, and a mountain biker specifically. Let’s keep that clear.
“The off-season is characterized by providing rest, alternative activities and mental refreshment.
Often, this part of the year is easily seen as a time to have fun and not do your sport… the off season.
Frankly, what athletes do on their time off at the end of the year is never really associated with their performance in the next season. But, it should be as the transition phase has some key ingredients that get the body and mind refreshed:
1. Low training volume – reduced load on the body helps remove any niggling injuries and gives the athlete time to reflect on their underlying motivations to compete. Plan for a month-long transition, before commencing pre-season training.
2. Some exercise – having done so much training for the rest of the year it becomes part of the athlete’s lifestyle to be active, so I’d include some moderate exercise which is not what you’d normally do. Depending on the sport, examples could be rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking, swimming, pool running or surfing. As fitness is easier to maintain than develop, a little exercise during the break may be enough to maintain most of the fitness built over the last year and make for an easier start to the new season. Aim for 3-4 sessions a week of 30-60 min at an effort level of 5 to 7 out of 10.
3. Virtually no participation in the main sport – this is a chance for overstressed joints and muscles to rebuild and the mind to have break from thinking about technique, strategy and constant training. For the athlete that has had to manage an injury during the season, the transition phase is a great time to address muscle imbalances and weaknesses. This pre habilitation (as distinct from rehabilitation) can strengthen the muscles and joints for better training during the season.”
So let’s go swimming, paddling, maybe play some ping pong. I will sort out this new bike dilemma, rejuvenate, and re-invent my cycling avatar for 2013. I’m waving a white flag for the summer, or maybe I just need a nap.