Updated: Nov 15, 2022
You’ve raced your target marathon. All those months of training hard have paid off, but now the excitement is over, your body is tired, and it’s time to figure out what comes next.
Or maybe, you’ve run your last race or played your last game of the season. Is it time to sit around until the next big race comes across your radar or the next sports season starts up? Not quite.
“Off season”, or that down time between sports seasons or long races, should not be completely passive. It should start relaxed and easy, and gradually progress into a time to focus on building up into being a better, healthier athlete. By doing prep work now, we can strive to make the next season or race even better than the last. Let’s explore what the ideal offseason looks like, and what you can be doing to make the most of it right now.
First: Hit Reset.
In the weeks immediately after your peak performance (whether that be your big race or your championship soccer game), it’s time to drop the trainers and relax. Sit down, reflect on your season, and enjoy some much deserved rest. Take note of what went really well for you last season, and also what you could improve upon next season. How long your break is between seasons can be subjective and individualized. Personally, I’m sometimes ready to take 10 days very, very easy, and other times, I pester my coach to come back after only a few days. Regardless, at least a week of downtime should be considered to allow for both a physical and mental reset.
Rest can mean going on easy walks instead of running, enjoying less strenuous forms of cross training that don’t push you too far into the aerobic zone, or an easy hike. Prior to the peak event/performance on your athletic calendar, your training was building up gradually over time, like the slope of a mountain, leading to the big race. After the race, we have to go back to the base of the mountain before we start climbing up towards the next big thing. It is not sustainable to keep training and training without a rest and reset, as this will eventually lead to burn out, plateaus in performance, injury, or all of the above. In essence, take the time your body needs to reset.
Off season is an excellent time to focus on those other things that enrich your life that may have fallen by the wayside during those weeks of grueling training. Maybe you missed out on those weekend adventures that you were too tired or too busy training to enjoy. Maybe that means getting back into reading for fun. Regardless, it can be helpful to optimize your reset time by reframing it as time to recharge with the other things in your life that fill you up.
Then: Rehab and Rebuild!
There is no time better than off season to be proactive. Build a stronger, more durable body. Those little nagging injuries that you pushed through during the season shouldn’t be ignored. (check out my previous post on rest is not always best for a refresher on why this is the case). You can and should address them now, so they don’t crop back up when your activity levels ramp back up.
Now is the time to get back on the strength training wagon that you may have fallen off of as your schedule got busier. As mentioned in this post, strength training has a myriad of benefits for adult, and youth athletes alike. If a one on one format with accountability is what you need, Zenith offers personal training targeted to your individualized goals. If you prefer the camaraderie of a group class environment, Zenith is also offering a foundational class for runners that you can sign up for here. Or, if you have some lingering issues in need of attention, rehabbing them with physical therapy may be what your body truly needs (sign up here).
Make the most of this off season. At Zenith Performance and Wellness, we are familiar with the in-season off-season cycle as coaches, personal trainers, skilled therapists, and as athletes ourselves. We are here to help you through every step of the way as your Reset, Recharge, Rehab and Rebuild.