For many athletes and fitness enthusiasts January 1st seems like the perfect time to get started on fitness goals. Which naturally leads to the New Year being a very popular time to start with a coach or a training program. However, in many cases, waiting until then might be too late - and here are few reasons why -
One of the best times to work on the aspects of your sport that need fine tuning are the months of the “off-season” (we should probably note here that the term off-season is the time post A race and approximately 20 week prior to your A race of the next season). This is usually something that many athletes avoid as it can be less than fun to come face to face with your weaknesses, but the truth is that those who see the biggest gains, are those who are willing to take a hard look at their limiters and go about working to fix them before the season heats up. Ideally, this is something that should be evaluated throughout the season and worked on continuously, but is usually easier to deal with during the months with less training load. One mistake that we often encounter is the run limited athlete who thinks that the best way to cure their running issues is to go right from tri season to a stacked road running season. While we certainly learn a ton when we race, we also expend a ton of energy that we want to conserve for the season ahead and many can feel stale once it is time to get the ball rolling again. A coach or proper training plan in the off-season will help to work on weaknesses and not lead to burnout in training and racing or even worse injury.
At Evolve we believe that the training plan is secondary to the coach/athlete relationship that we work very hard to establish. We all want our athletes to realize their best self and that is only possible if we are invested in learning how best to motivate and assist our athletes - and this takes time. It can take several months to solidify how best to work with a particular athlete and likewise it can be the same for the athlete to understand what they need to do to help their coach help them. We have many athletes who we have been coaching for years and who have grown with their coach to get more out of of their training year after year. Getting this right takes time and if you wait until January 1st, this can easily spill into the larger training months.
Testing! Everyone’s favorite. The off-season is a great time to run some baseline tests, work on establishing and cross checking zones, and building a huge foundation heading into the season ahead. We use several metrics at Evolve, but heart rate is one of our most frequently used and for a new athlete to transition to HR based training it can take time to learn how to use the metric appropriately. This process and learning curve is best ironed out prior to the start of the season. Additionally, as coaches we look at the year differently than the athlete - the athlete sees a race as months away and the coach sees the race as only 10 months away - or 10 training blocks. Time is the most valuable commodity we have in the sport and the more time a coach has with an athlete to sharpen them, the better.
Many athletes crave the change that comes with the off-season and any well crafted training plan takes into account the need for different forms of movement along with the need to prescribe the correct training load. We often encounter athletes who pack their off-season full of “fun” races, and while we love a to mix things up with some unique racing experiences that keep things fresh, we see athletes who have run so many "off-season” fun runs that they are burned out by the time their season rolls around. A coach can help navigate how to best balance fun without going overboard.
If you find that you are fall into one of these categories, then now is the best time to jump at getting a solid off-season plan in place to catapult you to an amazing 2018!