Everyone needs some time to recuperate from a hard season. But the longer we take completely off, the more we risk a slow return in the spring. I use these key workouts to keep me healthy and sane.
1. Group swim: Twice a week, usually Monday and Friday, I find the time to do something fun in the pool. Master’s swim groups offer something for everyone. I tend to push myself when swimming with others.
Performance Tip: Keep it easy if you’re just returning to the water. If you’ve been in the pool 2 or 3 times a week for a couple of weeks, then its time to start pushing the pace. Mind them shoulders. Do the stability and core work necessary to keep ‘em strong all year long.
2. Fun run: I run with my friend Ian on Tuesday. We work in the same department at Auburn. This is a great opportunity to network and chat about things that interest us. I try to include ~5 race pace efforts for no more than 2 minutes. Keep it fresh if you’re recovering from a hard weekend.
Remember to keep those extremities warm during the winter. Jay’s rule of thumb: If it’s below 50°F (or 60°F and precipitating), I wear loose tights on the run.
3. A good ride: Whether it’s with your local group, spin class, or on a mountain bike, get out and ride. I travel for work this time of year. So on Wednesday’s, I find a trail near my destination and crank out some laps on some knobby tires.
Ideally, you want to get the legs spinning for at least an hour. But if you can’t, use this as an opportunity to do a skills set on the trainer. 10 minutes warm-up, 5x 1 minute single leg sets alternating legs. Then 3 sets of these high cadence drills on ~2:1 rest as 1 minute on, 2 minutes off, 30 seconds on, 1 minute off, 15 seconds on, 45 seconds off, repeat. Finish up with 5 minutes easy cool down. Then hit the showers.
4. Longish run: It’s difficult to get out of bed at 5:30 on Thursday, but I do it. I take a coffee, black. I roll out the muscles a bit. Then I shoot for 80 to 90 minutes of comfortable running. I try to stay on soft surfaces as much as possible.
Tips to stay sane: Use this as an opportunity to do something enjoyable. Explore your city. Run some trail.
5. Go to the gym: Pumping iron is a great way to work on weaknesses, but if you’re a newbie, it’s also a great way to get hurt. Find someone who knows what they’re doing. Do some circuits of pull-ups, lat-pull downs, straight arm pull-downs, and rows. Work on your weaknesses with low weights and high reps. Do not do repetitions until exhaustion without consulting with a trainer.
Remember, you want to be able to swim, bike, and run all weekend.
6. Weekend Warrior: Find a 5k or group ride that keeps you off the couch. Weekends are a great time to ride bikes. I do my long run on Thursday so I can ride back-to-back days on the weekends. If I’m feeling spry, I ride 3 or 4 hours on both days. I like to switch it up, riding the mountain bike on one day and the road bike on the other.
Performance tip: Keep it simple. If you’ve eaten a solid breakfast, a PB&J, a banana, and some sports drink (like EFS) may be all you need for even a moderate workout. Ride at least an hour without dipping into your ride food and/or sports drink.
If you should remember one thing from this article, it is this: Having fun isn’t just for the off-season. Rather, the off-season is the time to learn how to have fun all year long.
Suffer well, my friends,