The seasons are coming to an end for winter sports and preparation for next year is probably something that is on the mind of very few. Here are our thoughts on how you might need to manage your off season.
You probably feel like you need some time off… Guess what…. you probably do! So take some time; our recommendation is 2 weeks but depending on workload/body condition/mental space as many as 4 weeks maybe needed. In this time light recreational activity is advised.
What you don’t want to do is start putting it off week after week, as before you know it, it’s Christmas and way too late to start. Other athletes could already be 8-12 weeks in front of where you are. This also is not a great mental approach to your training, and when you finally get back into your training, you won’t approach sessions with needed intensity and will find poorer results due to this.
Why is it important to not have too much time off? Heard of the old analogy if you don’t use it you lose it? This fits perfectly as you take time off you will be de training. Too much time away and all the work you had done during the season and preseason will start to disappear. After two weeks of detraining we start to see large effects on muscle thickness, pennation angle, fascicle length (look at the below infographic on a study done on the hamstrings).
“The off season cycle is an opportunity for athletes to work on developing the physical side of their game. There is no training for their sport, nor is there any competition, which means athletes can fully focus on developing critical attributes that will improve athletic performance & injury prevention” – Christian Woodford. This is a great time for repeat efforts sport athletes to increase the lean mass they lost during the season & increase body armour/structural stability to stabilise their joints.
This window of time also allows us to work on “building a tank” or work capacity. I am not a fan of coaches telling athletes, especially young athletes, that to improve fitness and performance you need to go for a long, slow run “Get K’s into your legs”. This doesn’t help anything. This doesn’t even help a runner, because they don’t want to run slowly either. The sport and position that an athlete plays goes a long way to deciding what the athlete needs for this.
A well programmed off-season can give an athlete a flying start to their preseason training. Be it at training because they already have a level of strength/conditioning to be able to perform in what is usually high intensity training. Having the higher strength capacity as well as the increased aerobic and anerobic capacity, the athlete will also be reducing the chance of injury that will usually occur to an under prepared athlete due to the huge increase in workload. It’s a win/win situation for an athlete to complete off-season work, your body will be able to take the riggers of preseason, you’ll recovery better due to this, you will lower the chance of injury and have increased your strength (muscle size – a bigger muscle can produce more force, thus is able to turn into more power). Be prepared for your next season by starting your offseason 2-4 weeks after your season has finished and thank me next year when your miles in front of where you were in the previous year.