By Michael Collins
What is you weakness? Swimming? flexibility, tight hamstrings, not a good climber on the bike, lower back pain, no upper body strength, mentally burned out and unmotivated?
The off-season is a great opportunity to reflect on how your season went. Review your training log and race results and figure out what you did well, and what you were disappointed with. Write them down on a list. Can you track down specific causes for your shortcomings? Inconsistent training due to work, being sick, or just being a flake? Did you do the mileage you needed to be successful? Did you do the intensity needed to be FAST when you race. Did you rest and eat well enough to be at peak fitness when racing? Are you ignoring specific injuries, flexibility issues, or strength problems that are holding you back?
Since training is not as critical during the off-season, spend the time to do the following:
Take time off from training if you are really burned out and unmotivated. Instead, do the following Reflect on how your year went Write out your specific weaknesses Write out a Plan to overcome them (including using other people as resources) Make Goals For 2003including: Training Goals Benchmark Tests Race Goals
Get help from friends & family. Share goals with them and ask them to help you achieve them. Get training partners with similar goals, so you are on the same page in training. Find a coach to help you reach your goals and be more objective than you may be with yourself.
As far as conditioning through the Winter, consider doing some other activities that will keep you active and in reasonably good shape, but won't depress you like going for bike rides in bad weather or doing track sessions and being way off your best times.
Educate yourself on your weakness.
Buy a few books or videos on the subject you need to improve. Learn what the experts do to be good at it. The first step in getting better is learning what you are doing wrong and then what is the correct way to do it. You can shorten you learning curve significantly by reading and watching videos which teach proper form and training techniques.
Enjoy the PROCESS of training and preparation, not just the race outcome. Good luck next season!
Michael Collins is a Certified USAT Coach as well as the United States Masters Coaches Committee Chairman. He Coaches Masters Swimmers and Triathletes for Novaquatics in Orange County, CA. He specializes in technique improvement for all three sports and underwater video analysis. He is also a SwimInfo.com Product Reviewer with extensive knowledge of the best training videos and books. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org