With all of us capping off our fall racing seasons at FLEET FEET's Turkey Trot STL (wink wink), now is the perfect time to discuss what's next.
Wait… What's next?
Yep, now is the time to start planning your next goal, and there are several things to consider as you come up with your plan. When planning a training year, we want to look at periodization. Many of us fail to follow periodization properly and, therefore, deal with injuries and setbacks that could otherwise be avoided. So, let's discuss how to incorporate periodization into your upcoming training program.
Periodization has three main phases: preparation, competitive, and transition. The completion of your goal race marks the beginning of your transition phase. The transition phase is all about kicking back, relaxing, and letting both your mind and body recover from months of training. Many of us never properly heed the transition phase. We either don't take enough time off or we take too much. How long the transition phase should last depends on the person; typically, I recommend runners take a couple of weeks off, just to chill out. Two weeks is a doable and safe amount of time to let your body heal itself from the damage of race day. It's also long enough to provide an “emotional breather,” fend off burnout, and let the “running bug” work it’s way back into your system. At the same time, it’s not so long that you feel like you’re starting from scratch when you do start running again.
However, the most commonly neglected training phase is the preparation phase. The preparation phase is when we should prepare our bodies for the upcoming training (competitive) season. The preparation phase is when we need to strengthen our body's weaknesses and loosen what's tight. This is the time to fix the weak link in our kinetic chain—you know, that trouble area that holds us back during training and racing. The problem is, however, that all too often we try to combine the competitive and preparation phases together. Trying to fix our weaknesses when we're in the middle of training is throwing too many stimuli at our bodies at one time; it only sets us up for failure.
Give yourself a couple of weeks to mentally and physically recharge, then take advantage of all the FLEET FEET Training Center has to offer to fix those weak links and build a better, faster you for the next training season. We say that the FLEET FEET Training Center is training centered on you; this is the time to take that motto for all it’s worth. Our classes and clinics will help you make the strength gains needed to get a running start (pun intended) into your next training (competitive) season. And once that season arrives, if you’ve prepared properly, all you have to do is maintain the gains you’ve already achieved.
And speaking of the competitive season, the FLEET FEET Training Team has a wide selection of awesome programs that begin over the next few months. Whether you love trails, wanna run your first 5K, need some guidance for your next half marathon, or are trying to qualify for Boston, we’ve got a program for you. FLEET FEET training programs are designed by experienced, highly-trained professional coaches with exercise science degrees and certifications. The FLEET FEET training staff fuses its knowledge and expertise with scientific principles and proven training techniques to provide the most comprehensive and motivational running, walking, and triathlon programs in the St. Louis area. Besides that, we're one fun group to come play with.
So, race that Turkey Trot and then start planning. Because you’ve got to take that next step in training if you want to tackle that next goal.
Good Luck and Happy Racing!
Tim Cary is FLEET FEET's Assistant Training Manager, coach of the FLEET FEET-sponsored Runnababez Elite team, and manager of the FLEET FEET Racing Team. Over his 20 years of coaching, Tim has coached athletes to three national team championships, five national individual championships, two national records, and numerous All-American and All-State honors. Click here to receive Tim's weekly article via email.