Athletes: This Off-Season, Add Playing Outside to Your Cross Training Program

After nine months of training and racing, it's safe to assume that physical and mental fatigue are a reality. Being tired and injured are the easy signs to read at this point in the year. But the more subtle signs come from mental fatigue.

Healthy diets may be sacrificed. Cyclists may not want to ride their bikes. And the last thing you want to do is go for a trail run. In general, you're probably burned out from the long season.

Most of us will try to do some level of training during these months. Some may even try to do some late season adventure, triathlon, or running event.

But, throughout these weeks, it may be more effective for you to vary your activities from the structured workouts of the past 9 months and, instead, get outside and do something fun. Snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, stand-up paddling, hiking, surfing and rock climbing can be a great substitute for the usual bike, run, swim and kayak routine.

For the most part, we're entering the "recovery" portion of our year. This is a time to reduce the volume and intensity of exercise and allow your body the opportunity to heal the muscles and joints.

Reduce your calorie intake to equal the lowered exercise volume. Beyond physical healing, you also need to focus on the mental aspects of your recovery. Take the structured workout time of the past nine months and un-structure it.

Simply reducing the volume, intensity and frequency of workouts will help keep activities enjoyable. Identify new places to have your adventures and try new activities to challenge your muscles. And as you're doing these activities, reflect on your challenges and achievements of the past season.

Then, plan your mental strategy for the coming year. Here are some simple steps to help you do that:

Step 1

Identify the events, races and goals that you considered successful. Write down the details that made them positive for you. Next, identify the events, races and goals that were challenging and note why they did not meet your expectations.

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