Full definition of off–season:
a time of suspended or reduced activity; especially the time during which an athlete is not training or competing.
… we have arrived!!
The NYC marathon, 2+ weeks ago, was officially my last endurance event of 2016. Phew! As you may know, it was a less than stellar experience. This photo of me on Central Park South, about a half of a mile from the finish, sums it up pretty accurately. That, my friends, is the look of defeat.
But, on the plus side, I learned quite a bit this year and this season.
Immediately after the marathon, I ordered By Chloe for the whole family to refuel and refresh my spirits. Vegan burgers, fries and mac + cheese. It hit the spot.
And that, my friends, may have been the healthiest meal I ate until about a week ago…
These last few weeks have been interesting. Election day was just two days after the NYC marathon. I usually enjoy reading and watching election coverage, but I have to admit that I was tiring of the campaigns dominating the news. Not only was I eagerly awaiting the news of our next president, but I was also excited for it all to be over.
Until almost midnight on election day, I was completely unaware of how badly I’d take Hilary’s loss. I mean, I actually don’t agree with a lot of her ideas for policy. Rationally, I knew that Donald Trump had a chance at the presidency (against all odds, he made it this far, I figured), but had mostly written it off due to predictions from polls. As swing states started reporting, my heart sunk. Turns out, I’m a big fan of respecting humans and treating them decently regardless of their gender, sexuality, race, religion or age. For that reason and also because I thought we were on the brink of our first female president, I took the Trump victory pretty hard.
Wednesday morning I woke up, still stunned. The mood in New York City was somber. It was a grey, rainy day. The volume was low, almost as if someone had kicked us hard in the gut, knocking the wind out of us for a full 24 hours. I sat in my bosses office and tried to hold back tears as we watched Hilary’s concession speech.
“And to all of the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.”
That part really got me. More than ever, I felt the presence of a seemingly impenetrable, thick glass ceiling. Still fully intact.
Then the protesting and gloating started. People who had been perfectly friendly before the election were all of a sudden bickering intensely on social media. The ugly campaigns that I was looking forward to sun setting had morphed into angry rants, hate crimes, and an air of fear and uncertainty.
For about a week, I went to bed as soon as the kids did and slept as long as I possibly could. Exercise was the last thing on my mind. And some pretty poor eating habits crept back in. And then, sort of unexpectedly, I was slammed at work and Michael was out-of-town. My hands were full and there wasn’t much time for sleeping. It was a welcome distraction.
Now, the distractions have subsided. Some of the raw emotion from the election seems more processed. Things are still uncertain, but there is less panic.
And I’m realizing that the “off-season” is for the birds! Certainly, ironman training is not sustainable year round, but in years past this has translated into a 1-2 month complete hiatus from exercise. Typically during these periods, I don’t feel good about myself, my energy is lower, and I’m not as happy.
This is why I’d never advocate for a true “off-season” from a training perspective. Instead, I think it makes sense to periodize our training, change things up, and focus on shorter workouts.
For me, since I have my sights set on a fall marathon (sub-4 hours), I’m planning the following fitness routine:
- December to April: strength – I’m planning to take advantage of the chilly temperatures and bring my workouts indoors during this period. Starting when I was a young teenager lifting weights in the basement with my dad, I loved it. I felt so powerful. And, I think my body would benefit from building some lean muscle mass. I also plan to swim once a week because it is a great full body exercise, and also one that I miss post-ironman.
- April to July: speed – During this period, I plan to add running back into my routine. I’ll likely start by running three times a week and still doing some lifting. My runs will be a speed workout, a tempo run, and a longer easy-paced run, and they will be shorter than most runs in the next phase.
- July to October: endurance – In summer, I’ll drop strength training except for core and weekly hill / speed workouts. It will be more like traditional marathon training, and I’ll aim to run 5x per week.
So far, the only race on the calendar is the Chicago marathon, however, I have been doing some research and think it would be fun to do a couple of destination half marathons. 13.1 really is such a fun distance.
I would love to hear about how you approach the off-season. Do you take any time completely off? How do you change up your training? And do you love it or loathe it?
P.S. Yesterday I did my first CrossFit workout in years, which called for 150 burpees (I only made it through 135). I’m feeling sore already… I might be nearly catatonic later today.