10 Building Blocks for Your Post Season
After a long season of training and racing, enjoying 1-4 weeks ‘of’ from structured training is highly encouraged for muscular and mental rejuvenation before transitioning to post-season training. A few days of enjoying “the land of Couchlandria” (borrowed this term from Sufferfest!) is ok, but don’t let the days turn to weeks or months. Hiking, mountain biking, yoga, mobility exercises, and family fun activities are great for your time off and allow for active recovery.
When you are ready, transition to post season training begins! Post-season lasts approximately 6-10 weeks and is the time to work on the building blocks, or framework, for development of skills and habits you will need for success in training, racing, and beyond. If you are new to endurance training and racing, you will start with this phase of training, despite not participating in the previous season. During post season, there is less training volume and physical stress. Here are 10 building blocks to include in your post season.
Relationships. Nurture your relationships with family, friends, co-workers, and yourself. Let’s face it, our support system often gets neglected during training and racing. With less time devoted to training during the post season, there’s often more time to spend with your tribe.
Sleep. Develop healthy sleep hygiene. Read more about “If your sleep is out of whack, so are you!” in this article https://www.colorado.edu/asmagazine/2019/09/11/if-your-sleep-out-whack-so-are-you. A helpful resource for learning how to achieve healthy sleep is The Sleep Solution: Why Your Sleep is Broken and How to Fix It, by Dr. Chris Winter.
Food. Maintain healthy nutrition and hydration practices, but give yourself permission to enjoy tasty treats (and taco Tuesday!). Post season is a great time to look for new recipes that are easy to prep, nutrient dense, and taste good. Making a list of 10-14 main dish recipes that you can rotate on your meal prep calendar, is very helpful later in the season during weeks of heavy training!
Injury/niggle rehabilitation. Review your training log for notes on injuries or niggles you experienced throughout the season. Consult with a physical therapist who has experience working with endurance athletes to test your strength, power, flexibility, balance, coordination and perform swim, bike, and run analysis.
Set goals. Spend some time identifying what achievements are important to you for the upcoming season and over the next few years. Work with your coach to pick races or schedule benchmark testing opportunities to work towards your achievements.
Consistency. A lower training volume during post season allows you the opportunity to test different schedules for training to see what will work best for you once the training volume increases again in pre-season. Are you more consistent training in the mornings or afternoons? Research several pools you can swim at (in case one is closed- this is quite common!) and identify routes for outdoor riding and running with different terrain features (hilly, flat, etc.)
New equipment. Post season is the perfect time to test new equipment and make changes to your bike fit. Testing new equipment later in the season, when you are training longer, fatigued, and often times under more stress in life, the learning curve is accentuated. Use the post season, to decide on your gear!
Strength training. The post-season is about preparation. A good progression for strength training is: learn, control, load, and explode. Learn the movement and how to breathe while performing it properly. Then, control the movement and increase repetitions, while maintaining proper form and without adding weight. Progress by loading, or adding weight/resistance, to the movement. Finally, explode. Two examples of this are with the addition of plyometrics or olympic style lifting. Strength training should evolve throughout the year.
Swimming focus. Later in your training and racing season, you will likely need to cut back on swimming as you increase your bike and run training. A post-season swim focus establishes a strong swim foundation, is low impact on your body, and you can make great cardiovascular gains!
Posture & technique. Incorporate drills to address form impairments. Vary your bike cadence and running terrain. Make every workout count during post season and you will set your training season up for success!
Putting it all together: Use these 10 building blocks to structure your post season. Don’t let ‘off’ weeks turn into ‘off’ months. Make a plan focusing on these 10 areas and stick to it! While it is important to reflect on past accomplishments and challenges, looking back for too long will not lead you forward.