13 Aug 2009

Hitting the Late Season Funk.

The end of the race season, be it triathlon, running, cycling, or swimming, can bring with it a lack of motivation to train and race.  This is tough when, for a lot of athletes, the end of the season brings some of the biggest races of the year.  National championships, regional titles, and even world championships can be on the line.  Why do we hit these late season Blahs and what can we do about them?

There are a lot of reasons both physiological and psychological why we tend to loose our motivational edge late in the season.  If we have been racing for a long time it can take its tole.  Some athletes have been racing since March and training even longer.  This can wear down your ability to go get the job done.  Our bodies only have some much energy to give during the year.  If we were training hard early in the season and had great motivation, raced hard we may have over extended ourselves and not taken a break after the middle of the season.  This break in the middle of the season is hugely important for a couple of reasons.  First of all it lets our bodies heal and repair a lot of the damage we have done during training and racing.  A lot of age group athletes tend to live in a constant state of minor fatigue.  This break allows us to come back from this fatigue and build a stronger machine that we can fine tune with late season training.  It is a typical trend for an athlete to train like mad for an event or race and then get to that event and not have the gas to perform at our top levels.  It is important to pace our efforts so that we can give it everything we have at the right time.  Not give everything we have in our training ride and have nothing left for the race on the weekend.  Don’t get me wrong.  Training hard and giving a max effort is important but there are specific times for this.  That’s where a coach can be handy.  Mentally, this break lets us evaluate our goals and look at our late season objectives.  This can be motivating if our early season plan worked out well.  If not, it is a great time to evaluate what might have gone wrong.  Take some time to recharge mentally.  Go visit family.  Go out to dinner.  Enjoy some of the things that we tend to miss because we are busy training and racing.

There are also a few things we can do to help us get our motivation back.  Here are some of my favorites:

1. Make a series change in your training for a week or two.  If you are a creature of habit with your training you probably have a routine that you stick to pretty religiously.  If that’s the case mix it up.  Go for a mountain bike ride instead of your long road ride.  Go do some trail running instead of your normal track workout.  Do something different.  Change your route.  This change in training can freshen up those legs and give you a new enthusiasm for training.

2. Spend some time focusing on one aspect of your training.  If you are a triathlete do a week or two focusing on your week sport.  If you are a one sport athlete work on your endurance.  For runners you can work on visiting the gym a little to rebuild some strength and focus on some weak points.  Cyclists, this is a great time for you to do some work on your pedal stroke by doing some drills again (by again, I am assuming that you did a regimen of drill work on the trainer during the winter.  If not, you should).

3. Go buy yourself something new that pertains to your sport.  Being a gear junky this is my favorite.  New tires for your road bike, new suit or googles for swimmers, and a new pair of shoes for runners are always good ideas.  This will encourage you to get out and use those products.  Some times all it takes is a new pair of socks you have been wanting to try. 

We all need help maintaining motivation throughout the season.  If none of these suggestions sound like they will work for you give me a call.  I’ll get you out there!

Reach Your Peak!

Coach Jason

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