- Take four to seven days totally off from training. Get some extra sleep, catch up on some neglected chores, but stay away from the pool, the weight room, the running shoes, the bike, ... Trust me, you aren't going to get fat.
- To make sure you don't get fat, back off the calories a bit. Enjoy some desert or an extra glass of wine now and then, but don't just jam food, and especially sugar, down your throat while taking a break from the rigorous schedule.
- After your short hiatus, allow yourself 1 hr of max activity in a very easy HR zone (A or z1) for 1 week. Try to do something each day, but max of 1 hr and EASY!
- So now, you are two weeks into your "break". Do a self check and see how you feel physically and mentally. Are you having difficulty waking up in the AM? Do you have some nagging injuries that are still there? Is your motivation low? Yes to any of these means take another week of 1 hr max easy sessions per day. If no to all of these, proceed to #5.
- Get back into it! Yes, I know two weeks seems short for an off season. Hear me out. First, I have witnessed many "enjoy" their off season a bit too much. I have three good friends who fall hard in the off season. I don't want to incriminate so I'll give them all an alias. Let's call them Jaker, Lenny, and Flooter. I've seen these guys get themselves in top shape, only to totally derail in the offseason. Picture top shape as reaching the highest rung of a hypothetical ladder - rung 10 say. The key in the off season is to rest and recover, yet not slip past the 6th rung. These three have slipped down to the 2nd rung. It's hard to surpass your previous years performances when you spend a great portion of the new year getting back to the level you were at. Many do long slow training trying to build a base when they get back into it. I subscribe to just the opposite. It's cold and dark out and you'll have plenty of time in the spring and summer to go long. So keep things short, but throw in some intensity. Also, focus on your weaknesses now, and add some strength training in. Unless you are under 30, strength training will absolutely benefit you - even though there are some so called experts who are skeptical of it.
- Do some short running races. Try to do two 5K's per month in December, January, and February, and run them hard.
- Do some different activities: Try snow shoeing, cross country skiing, hiking with a weighted back pack, in line skating, yoga, indoor soccer or basket ball (just watch the knees), or anything that's fun and makes you sweat.
- start developing your 2009 goals. Not just the races you are going to focus on, but more specifics such as time goals, training goals, ... Share them with your coach!
OK, this blog may be boring, but it's necessary and timely because before you know it, it will be March and your bike may still be in it's case from your last race in October (I did this one year) and you haven't been to a pool in three months and you only wanted to gain five pounds in the winter but you are now carrying 15. Don't let this happen to you. Off season is not an excuse to get out of shape!