Maximising performance in the off season

In professional sport the ‘off season’ offers an athlete the opportunity to rest, recover and mentally prepare for the following season. In the off season an athlete will do strength training and fitness training so that they are in peak condition when the new season starts. In tennis the fitness and strengthening will carry them through the season, and allows them to focus more on match play and technique.

In the amateur we can see that the off season either never occurs, or that the athlete decides to increase the intensity of their training – and injuries occur. The off season needs to be structured to maximise the benefits for the following season.

The off season also offers an opportunity for injuries to be treated sensibly and for the body to be rested to allow natural healing processes to occur. The powers of rest cannot be underestimated. This will include having plenty of sleep; it will also include having ‘active recovery’ whereby the body continues to exercise, but in a much lower intensity so that injuries can respond to treatment and heal.

Structure your year to peak for your events and also to have an off season. Your physiotherapist and trainer can work closely together to design an off season which will help heal your injuries and also maximise your potential for the following season OR for achieving an extra goal.

7 weeks and 3 days after the ironman

It has been fascinating being able to look back at the last 7.3 weeks and see that the tiredness I had from late nights after the Ironman was actually the fatigue which my body was still trying to recover from  the event. I felt like my body was being eaten away during the day by my super fast metabolism.

The fatigue and fast metabolism remained for at least 5-6 weeks before I started to feel better. Even now I can sense there is a fatigue factor still present in my body. I think my body is adjusting with my metabolism slowing down again.

I spoke to two professional Ironman athletes and they both said would take 8 weeks to fully recover and even then you are still not 100%. They suggested the more Ironman events you do the faster your body recovers.

I have been training in the gym the past 2 weeks and I have been on one cycle ride for 1 hour. I am enjoying the gym and I feel it is right to avoid cycling too much at this stage.

My advice to first time Ironman athletes after the race it to:

1. Recognise that you will get tired and get lots of quality sleep

2. Eat quality food and regularly because your body is still burning up energy fast

3. Drink lots of water (3-4 litres a day)

4. Rest from cardio training for 8 weeks even though your body has a desire to train two days after the event

5. Stretch the body to feel better

I am still recovering now and in another 2-4 weeks I hope I will feel even better.

Week 24: fitting in with life

This week has been really busy at work and getting in the training means being very organised. I work and then train and then work and then train again. It is not long distances yet however the routine of what I am embarking on is fast becoming a reality.

I knew I had Valentines day coming up this weekend and although training is a top priority I wanted to have sunday off so I did my long bike on the Saturday. To allow me to complete all my weeks training in the first 6 days I did my run and friday cycle training all on Thursday.

Thursday was a long day and I did not get to sleep until 1.30am as I was too awake after completing my bike session so late at night. Today I finished my 3 hour bike. The bike felt good and as I was training alone so I pushed myself faster through the last 3 laps of Richmond.

The problem with going faster on the bike means I must do more laps to complete the 3 hours on the bike. Not sure if going faster is better after all. My legs are feeling good again and I am reluctant to weight train  as it causes injuries each time I push myself hard.

I can see I am losing weight with the increase in training and without adequate sleep my body is starting to suffer. Sleep is getting less and this has to change.

All the bike  kit I have bought for the Ironman is paying off. It feels comfortable and allows my body freedom when I move.

This week my goggles have leaked. When I breathe the water seeps in. The more practice of long swims the sooner I will work out which pair of goggles works for me. My swimming is still not great. and I can not swim to the tempo trainer for longer without getting tired and losing my technique. The frustration kicks in even more when I get to the end of the 20 meter pool and lose my timing as I need to turn so soon. Apparently there is a 50 meter pool in Chiswick I could use so got to check this out on the web.

At the moment I am enjoying motivated about the training. I look forward to the sessions and want to improve. The distances are getting longer and I know the work I put in now is what will make my race day easier.

My friends have confirmed their flights and accommodation in Zürich. It means a lot to me to have them there and  to celebrate the end of the race. It does give me a reason to train hard so I do not let them down and they enjoy my success.

Next week I have a physiotherapy course to attend on the weekend. I plan to do the long ride on Thursday morning and run after the course. There is a fine balancing act to play with work and life and training. I can not afford being flexible in the coming weeks as I need to rest between training sessions now.

Health phase of training prescribed by nutritionist and swim training schedule.

Been trying to eat 6 x day as my nutritionist recommended. I went and bought a rice cooker and a slow cooker in an attempt to save time and eat quality food. I made sushi on the weekend and made the rice too Gelatinous but still ate it and my friends enjoyed it. Last night used the slow cooker for 8 hours. This morning ate it for breakfast and it taste great. Had Chicken with vegetables in a chicken stock.

Eating six times a day and drinking 3 litres of water a day does require organisation and having the food available in the kitchen at work. I have Two 1,5 litre bottles of water with lemon juice in them sitting in the fridge. I have have snacks like rice cakes and rye crackers with bananas for snacks and now I must get good carbohydrates and protein to eat as main meals. The trick is having variety and also having food which is fast and easy to prepare. I find I get hungry after 8pm and do feel like eating carbs after 3pm. I think I have not got the balance right in food yet to stop the hunger feelings.

I will try eating more carbohydrates in the morning and for lunch and then try protein and salads in the afternoon and dinner. If I do more exercise like yesterday I find I am hungry in which case I am eating as I feel my body needs it.

Sleep is an issue for me as I am in a habit of going to bed late. This is especially true when I am out with friends. If I have a late night out it upsets my sleep cycle for the beginning of the week and with work it takes time to recover. I am have got my Anti oxidant juice Monavie, Udos oil and multivitamins to take each morning and now I must organise my sleep.

I do have opportunities to go to sleep early but I mentally want to do more things and go to bed later. I am going to buy a new Tempur Mattress because my current mattress is hard to lie on and I find I wake up with a sore shoulder. I hope this will help me sleep deeper and longer. I have cleared my diary of social activities from now to xmas so I can put events in that I feel fit with my sleep cycle.

I can cope better at work and with life if I get adequate sleep. I am fed up waking exhausted in the morning and not enjoying the day. This Ironman has made me make positive changes in my life that I would not have done otherwise.

My training schedule has evolved. I have have swim sessions to fit in after the assessment from Emile. The schedule will look like this

1 Hour Technique Sessions:

1 – Identifying drag, focus on kicking, rotation, breathing & streamlining (200m)
2 – Review 1 and focus on arm recovery (400m, 1min rest between 200s)
3 – Review 2 and focus on timing of stroke (600m, 1min rest between 200s)
4 – Review 3 and focus on catch (800m, 1m rest between 200s)
5 – Review 4 and focus on underwater pathways (wetsuit optional) (1,000m, 1m /200m)
6 – Review 5 and prepare for race condition swimming; sighting, drafting, positioning, starts and finishes, vascular shunting (wetsuit optional)

Fran has me increasing my weights. I have developed a clicking on my right knee cap with deep squats. It can happen sometimes and not others and I think it is my biomechanics as I squat. When I feel the movement is awkward the clicking occurs. The strength training has made  big difference to my bike strength and I am enjoying the hard workouts. I can push more but I am making sure I keep good technique with all the exercises.

Fran and I have decided on doing a UK half Ironman and also doing a training camp in Provence, France. I will book these and we are putting the calendar together nicely. I have been invited to train with Debbie Shaw, winner of  age group  Forestman this year once I get some mileage in the legs. I want to connect with more triathletes and build a great network of friends.