by Pro Triathlete Alex
The leaves have fallen and, for some, snow is on the ground. For many athletes, the off-season is in full swing. And you deserve it—spending most of the year on a rigorous training regime can leave even the most type-A athlete depleted. November is finally a time to kick back and catch up on all those forgotten parts of your life: friends, dirty garages, pets, family, work, and social life.
But where to start… and how? After all, you most likely became an athlete because you enjoy the challenge each workout brings and the structure it provides in your life. How do you function now that this has been taken away from you?
It’s common for athletes of all levels to experience some level of withdrawal and depression during this downtime period. Physically, your brain is no longer receiving a healthy dose of mood boosting endorphins, and mentally, you may lack the feeling of completing a challenge. So how do you combat this and come into next season stronger than ever?
In my athletic experience I’ve discovered a few keys that keep me coming back stronger each and every year. This time of the year can be a great time to focus on all those little things that you initially told yourself you’d focus on at the beginning of the season… but then forgot about. Yes, I’m talking about drills, focused strength work, flexibility, cleaning your equipment, technique work, visiting a chiropractor, and cross training… like playing some intense racquet ball! Doing some simple activities centered on these themes can keep your body sane and make you feel like you’re still progressing to a faster, stronger, and better you.
But there’s something I think is even more important than all the common stuff everyone talks about.
November is the time of year I like to remind myself why I ignore all the distractions that come up during the season. Got some friends going out for margaritas at your favorite place? Join in and kick back a few extras, and tackle that deep fried chalupa you’ve been eyeing for the last few months. It’ll be a great night of laughter, good food, and something you’ve definitely been missing. As a bonus, when you wake up the next morning you’ll have a fresh reminder on why you don’t pound down margaritas and chalupas during the season.
The off-season is a time of no regrets. Go have some fun and do all the things that you’ve been missing. It’s okay to make some poor choices because, ultimately, it will remind you why you got into a healthy, athletic lifestyle in the first place. I find that this system naturally pushes you back into athlete mode once you’re nice and ready. You don’t want to start training and still have the feeling of what else could you have done. So lie back and have another cookie, the season is a long way off.
If you really want to reach new heights in 2014, you’ll have to enter it mentally fresh and eager to do some work and kick some butt!