First of all, thank you to those of you who sent encouraging words after I announced I was not racing this past weekend. When I was feeling down in the dumps about it on Sunday, reading your supportive comments helped me to feel better! I know deep down I made the right decision, but it’s never hard to back out of a race, even when you are 100% sure it’s the best idea. I know this decision has put me in a better place for the 2015 season and now I am fired up and hungry for 2015!
This week starts my official ‘off season.’ I am in complete REST mode for this entire week (the struggle is real… not a fan of rest). Let’s just say it’s been weird opening up my training email each morning and seeing this:
The only type of exercise I will be doing is walking the dog and going for 20-30 min walks during my lunch time. Speaking of walking the dog, I had a beautiful walk at the park with my mom and Oliver on Sunday. The temperature has definitely started to feel like November around here (mid 40’s) and the air is crisp… I love it!
How I feel about off season…
Well, it kind of sucks. Let’s just say I’ve never been good at taking at break from exercise, or even taking it easy. I need my daily endorphin rush and without it, I feel like something is seriously missing. On top of not knowing what to do about all my free time, I start to feel pretty gross. I know I should enjoy the downtime, since I deserve it, but it’s certainly a mental battle.
While the desire to exercise is definitely physical, there is also a HUGE mental component… it’s a true addiction. It’s easier for me to train 20 hours/week at high intensity than it is for me to rest and not train. I truly think off season is more difficult than the actual in-season training. There is nothing I hate more than doing nothing. Honestly, if i didn’t have a coach telling me to take an off season, I probably wouldn’t even be taking a break right now. For example, two years ago when I wasn’t being coached, I did Crossfit on the days where I should have been resting… very bad! This time however, I am listening and being smart about off season, as hard as it may be.
I have no structured plan for THREE whole weeks. My next training cycle will start on the week of November 24th, which will be base training for the Boston Marathon. I basically have a month of no structure and I’m kind of dreading it. I thrive on structure! Then again, I do look forward to getting strong and healthy while giving my body a break from the swim/bike/run life.
What does off season look like?
- Week one: This week = total REST. I’m treating myself to a deep tissue massage for my birthday (which is Friday!). What a great week to rest, birthday week… a perfect coincidence.
- Week two: Light workouts. I’ll introduce some light biking and swimming back to my schedule, but no running. I’ll also focus on body work and some strengthening exercises from my chiropractor. The focus right now is isometric strengthening of glutes, hips and hamstrings! One exercise I’m focusing on is holding a DEEP lunge, while firing up my hamstrings and glutes, NOT my quads. As you can see it’s HARD and it burns!. Please excuse my pasty white skin in this photo:
- I am taking a full two weeks off of running to give my knee (and body) a break.
- Week three: Continue with light, random workouts. Reintroduce running while keeping things easy.
- Week four: Start the BASE phase of my training for the Boston Marathon. I’ll start up REALLY easy though, no high mileage for a while. I might even do some deep water running.
What does off season mean for fueling?
The focus will be on eating healthy, real food… but also not stressing too much about a perfect diet. I emailed my nutritionist about what I should be doing for ‘fuel’ during this off season period. She told me it’s actually OK to not follow a strict diet during these few weeks and that I can break the rules a little bit. She even recommended eating whatever I wanted during this period and that gaining some lbs could benefit the start of my 2015 season. While I don’t plan on that happening, it’s good to know it will melt right off.
This is where the mental struggle comes into play. I’m already having to deal with and fight the body image demons. Given this ‘rest’ period, some of my body image demons are trying to return. Without exercising at a high level, I tend to feel gross about myself and dwell on the fact that I’m not training. I need to realize that I won’t get ‘fat’ over a few weeks and that I will return back to my crazy exercising self in no time. Realizing this can be REALLY hard for someone like me, who’s struggled with distorted body image.
So much free time! What do I do with all of it?
- Lots of doggie walks with the hubs and Oliver
- Clean and organize the house i.e. finally hanging things on the walls that have been in a pile for months
I love this print given to me by my parents after finishing IMMT- it’s finally on the wall!
- Cook… A LOT. This past weekend I cooked a bunch and loved it! I even baked dessert for the first time in probably a year. Before Ironman training, I used to bake all the time. Off season and Fall are the perfect combination for baking! I baked an apple oat crisp and it was delicious: recipe HERE. I substituted coconut sugar for brown sugar and added some walnuts.
- Get more sleep. During the season, I wake up at or before 5:00 AM during the week. During the off season, my wakeup call is 7:00/7:30 AM. This means I’ll be getting close to 8-9 hours of sleep a night versus 6-7 hours during the season. Bring on more shut eye!
- I might get a little cranky. I need my exercise and the endorphin rush, without it, I get a little crabby.
- Try and stay mentally tough. It’s REALLY hard for me to rest and relax. I am trying to tell myself that I need an off season to be strong in the next season. I mean even the Pro’s have an off season… I should too!
- Just enjoy the free time. My goal is to enjoy the extra hours in my day and truly make the best of it. I know this will all pay off in the end…
And just for fun.. Oliver’s Halloween costume! Batwestie!
how to do you battle the body image demons when you can’t exercise?
Any tips for surviving the off season?