News : The Importance of taking an off season by Olympic Coach Darren Smith 


Slow Down To Speed Up – Importance of taking an Off Season By Darren Smith

For those in the northern hemisphere you’ll be looking ahead to next season. Perhaps wondering what you can improve and work on, hopefully after having done some reviews and some planning. This is what we do at Dsquad. Rather than just ploughing along mindlessly, but it is so commonly not done well enough I am afraid.

You might have watched some of the pro athletes racing at the World Champs or in Kona and even been inspired to do great things yourself next season. There is an important distinction between methodically looking over this season searching for clues as to why it met expectations or did not, and just knuckling down into your usual training regime hoping for something magical to appear. Relentlessness is an admirable trait, but not always helpful.

I see this in the professional athletes that I have coached in the past and even present. Some just don’t know how to stop through fear of ‘losing fitness’ and will need some strong words of encouragement to finally STOP and REST. I’ve got some newer athletes who for the first time had a proper break knowing that ‘life will indeed turn out just fine in the end’, and that they really do deserve it. It’s often related to more maturity and a sense of having done a good job in the previous year.  If your season started as early as March like some of my athletes and you have raced multiple times up until October then it is crucial to allow time for your body and mind to recover before reloading with new stressors. I generally tend to advise my athletes to ‘keep moving a little’, have fun, do nothing considered to be structured or ‘training’, but ‘feel free to go out with mates doing some exercise’. I often don’t specify a time schedule, but usually between week 2 and 3 they will contact me with ‘the itch’ returned and we start thinking of a flexible plan to get them going again.

If your season went well, then you need to make sure that you understand what components you ticked off in your training and preparation in order to have made it a success and to use these to continue developing. If the season didn’t work out, you got injured or had disappointing results the same must be done. The trick is to not just hope and do the same, but also not to go overboard and change everything! Reviewing can often be best done when you have an ‘informed’ colleague who is a bit more objective that you have to explain things to’.  This person could be your coach, a fellow ‘sporty’ friend or anyone with some real business experience. On paper a poor race outcome can hide many things that you did brilliantly and it might take a little digging to get you to recognise your improvement. There are countless examples over the years where I see my highly outcome orientated athletes come to me looking sad, while I act delighted of the improvements I have seen we’ve made together. They live in a black and white world, but I don’t and the world really isn’t like that. There are many shades of grey…

Try to break down your triathlon race into many components and rate them out of ten. There must be 5 or more different components to an open water swim alone…rate them all for an average and compare with last year. Same with the other disciplines, the other components of life etc, and see where some easy gains can be made

Happy training!
Coach Daz

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