I still run, bike and swim during my off-season or down time, but I do it in a more fun-like way.
I don’t get up at 4:45AM to go the master swim team practice, but instead I sleep in till 5:45AM when my daughters wake up. I don’t write down my workout plan for the month. I simply go out and have fun. When I go swimming later in the day I take some time to practice flip turns which I am still not good at. I try different strokes too, even if I feel pathetic. A my master swim coach once told me: “If you only train in one stroke, you become unbalanced. Some muscles get over-used, while others get under-used and your body is not designed for that. You then become more susceptible to injury, and you may throw off your posture, alignment, and other body mechanics." (That's what happened to Quasimodo, if you'll recall…nothing but freestyle. Poor guy.)
If I feel like running in the woods for 30 minutes instead of sweating a tough 12x400m repeat workout on the track, I do that. I try to enjoy the surroundings instead of concentrating on the pace.
I also pay more attention and dedicate more time to stretching and strength exercises. Often during the year I end up sacrificing the 10 minutes I should devote to stretching to squeeze in one extra repeat in the 45 minutes time I have allotted for my workout.
Finally, I try to enjoy other sports that get neglected during the rest of the year. For example, today I played tennis (sorta) with my wife and my three kids running around the court.
To summarize, I just try to have fun. My body thanks me for the extra sleep and added recovery while my motivation grows to work harder in the months to come. If I feel the urge to work harder I try to remind myself that I am not training to win the Ironman Hawaii. I want to feel better about myself, and learn to forget my daily worries. More balance will hopefully help me become a better person and athlete. Besides, I’d rather rest an extra day and go 30 seconds slower next year than getting an injury from over training and having to skip half the season.
So this year try to think about the off-season as a time to enjoy and recoup before the next season arrives. There are enough voices that bombard us every day telling us to go faster, do more, work harder….
Just have fun
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