Winter takes on different weather characteristics in different parts of the Northern Hemisphere (and with climate change will be taking on even more varied aspects). But whatever yours looks like — white, green or in between — it's a good idea to take some down time this time of the year. It might be a week, two weeks or even a month if you’ve raced frequently or have an injury or two that can be healed completely with rest. And whether for injury reasons or not, that’s rest for both your body and your mind.
Assuming you are in good shape, even with a month off you won’t lose that much. You may have read about some studies that found that regular exercisers lost their conditioning quickly when they stopped working out. However, these studies were carried out in people who had only recently become regular exercisers. If you are in reasonably good shape and have been working out/training on a regular basis for some time, you’ll find that you will get it back pretty quickly once you back into your regular training routine. After all, this is what professional athletes in sports ranging from baseball to basketball to track and field do year after year, on a regular basis.
The most important step that you can take after you've rested a bit, or maybe even while you're resting, is to take some time for re-examination and re-evaluation of both your goals and your goal-setting process. First of all, when you started out this past season did you have one or more goals that you had thought about and had set out with some care, in your mind or even written down? Some folks can go through a racing season without having set any particular goals for it and have a great time. But for many others, setting goals that are rational and realistic is key. Think about the number and type of races you are doing, what kinds of finishes you are looking for, and what do you really want to get out of the season for both your body and your mind while having fun doing so.
And so, did you achieve one or more of the goals you set for yourself this past season? If you didn't set any, think about the possibility that doing so might help you next year, especially if you didn't have fun, you felt burned out or you seemed to be training randomly. If you did set goals, were they realistic and reasonable? If you didn't achieve them, was that because you weren't trying hard enough, or was it because the goals you set were beyond you, either in terms of what you could reasonably expect to achieve in training in terms of your time availability or because they are just beyond your genetic endowment and native abilities, or both?
Taking a look at your goals, your performance and most importantly how you think and feel about yourself, your body and the racing you do. Doing so will in almost every instance help you to formulate both what will be best for you in the sport for next season and specifically what will help you most this coming winter. In this series of mine, for an earlier treatment of goal-setting as winter is coming on, you could take a look at here.
This series of thoughts and recommendations about multisport racing by Dr. Steve Jonas is, over time, drawn in part from his book, "101 Ideas and Insights for Triathletes and Duathletes" (Monterey, CA: Healthy Learning/Coaches Choice, 2011), from which text is used with permission. The book can be purchased here and is available at Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com.
Steve’s most recent multisport book is "Duathlon Training and Racing for Ordinary Mortals®: Getting Started and Staying with It" (Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot Press/FalconGuides, 2012), available at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.
His first book on multisport racing, "Triathloning for Ordinary Mortals®" 2nd Ed. (New York: WW Norton, 2006) also can be found at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Dr. Jonas recently was featured in World Class Magazine. Click here to read the article.