Flexibility and muscular endurance are the fun conditioning protocols everyone loves to incorporate in an off-season training regimen.
Things like introducing a dedicated yoga flow or restorative session once a week can help relax both your body and your brain. Getting in the gym and moving around some heavy weights can make you feel like a rock star ready to tackle anything the coming season might throw your way.
Velasquez shares his methodology for working with athletes during their off-season:
“The Adaptation/Foundation building phase consists of stabilization-building exercises and low intensity/high volume strength training,” he says. “This is the phase that will focus on the posture/pelvic stability/core control and correcting imbalances and asymmetries. This is the time to correct the skeletal alignment.”
From there, Velasquez says he has athletes move into building strength where intensity increases but volume decreases. He includes high-level plyometric exercises and sports-specific functional drills to continue to improve strength and power.
“Following a periodized training plan that changes every three to four weeks and has one peaking at the right time is important for any and all off-season programs,” he says.
Rest and Relax
For most runners with type-A personalities, rest is the hardest off-season practice to implement.
It’s easy to start going crazy or get cabin fever when your weekly mileage decreases. Sitting back and kicking up your feet can seem like a complete waste of time. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.
“In my opinion, the ability to enjoy the process of training is key to long term success,” Mauclair says. “We live in a results based society. We want all the results yesterday. However, it's the ability for the athlete, regardless of the level, to slow down at some point, and train to understand how the body operates to eventually get faster later.”
“During the off-season, athletes should work on resting, recharging and rebuilding the engine,” he says. “The first two to four weeks after your final race, event, game, competition is what I call Phase 1, or your ‘active rest’ period, where you’re just unplugging, decompressing, being a normal human—doing relaxing, fun, non-competitive activities. This is a chance to breathe and slow the pace of the game down for a minute.”
Use the extra time you have to get your hands on a good book or a training journal, or scour the internet for articles that might interest you and help you get the most out of the upcoming season.
By Timothy Lyman. Timothy is the director of training programs at Fleet Feet Pittsburgh and an ACE certified personal trainer. With over a decade of experience in the field, his education ranges from sports psychology to exercise physiology. He has coached runners at all levels on every surface at any distance, with an emphasis on economy, injury-prevention and functional fitness.