The ‘Off season’ is exactly that. It’s a time to switch off, a time to leg go of the season that’s passed and enjoy a little break away from the usual regular routine.
This is more appropriate for the longer endurance athletes amongst you, but it applies to everyone who’s competitively involved in sports also. The demands placed on the bodies of those who compete in endurance-type sports such as running, cycling and triahtlons is great, and the hours of training and racing over the season is mentally draining. It takes it’s toll, hence why an off-season is really important.
It is highly recommended to give yourself a good couple of weeks (between 2 and 4 normally optimal) of complete rest after the season finishes. And I mean complete rest! Not a little jog here and there or a dip in the pool. Absolutely zero exercise. Now this may scare some of you – the thought of zero exercise and the feeling of doubt as to whether you will return to those ‘peak’ form days. But not only will this help reset your body, it’ll also get you fired up and motivated to get the head down and back in that “pain cave” ready to start a new block of training for the next season.
During the off season, it’s totally fine – and expected – to lose some fitness and put a little weight on too. It’s normal, natural, healthy and genuinely good for your longevity within sport. You shouldn’t expect to be in peak condition – both fitness and weight – year round. Try and you’ll burnout fast.
Omitting this rest is a recipe for distaster and the likelihood is you will either pick up an injury or permanently lose your mojo in due course!
However, once that rest is done and you’re eager to get back on the horse, ease yourself back into general exercise. This is a great time to try new sports because you don’t need to dive straight back into structured workouts. Triathletes spend a lot of time swimming, biking and running and don’t have a great deal of time for much else – the off-season is a perfect time to mix things up a little.
What about investing in a cheap mountain bike and hitting the trails with some mates? Or visit your local rock climbing centre and spending a few hours doing that? These are both great ways to expend that energy you’ve amassed but also allowing you and your mind to focus on something different.
If you take the rest seriously and give yourself that separation, I can guarantee your motivation levels will rise through the roof and you will be ready for a fresh new block of training.