First of all, I hope that 2014 was a successful year for you – whether it was doing races or just staying fit! What follows is an emphasis on not wasting the experiences you’ve had (and hopefully learned from) and I’ll offer some suggestions on what you can do to get ready for 2013. The “Off Season” may be right around the corner, but it isn’t the “stop Season.” Capitalize on making the best use of the next couple of weeks and months. I’d suggest the four “Rs”: Refuel, Relax, Reflect, and Repair….
Refuel -- Proper nutrition is still important. Keep you junk food intake low and eat at least 5 times a day (I didn’t say meals). When you eat, ask yourself, “What am I going to be doing for the next three hours of my life?” and eat with that in mind. One recommended ratio in planning what you eat is 3 parts carbohydrates, 2 parts protein, and 1 part fats – simply stated, carbs are for the energy you need, the protein is important for repair and growth, and fats (the HDL type) help specific body systems. The best caution I can give you is that carbohydrates and protein have 4 calories per gram, alcohol has 7, and fats have 9 calories per gram….you do the math!
Relax -- Enjoy yourself; do something different. Do bike spin classes, try trail running, go for walks, do some mountain biking, or do something you’ve been putting off (bunge jumping from the Tower of the Americas doesn’t count) – get your mind clear and refresh yourself. Hey, spend some time with your family or “significant other!” You need some time to “recharge the batteries” so you can start the New Year off right. Don’t worry about race times or splits. Keep a positive attitude and upbeat perspective on your “down time.” Take a break!
Reflect -- Look back on the year and evaluate it. Hopefully without getting depressed or excessively concerned, objectively review your performances and accomplishments during 2012. Did you do or accomplish what you wanted? Figure out what went well and not so good (and why) and what you want to improve on (and how). Use this evaluation as a start point for next year’s planning. Think about major goals or races; sit down with a calendar and sketch out goals and a plan for 2013. After selecting challenging, yet doable events or objectives, construct a training plan to achieve what you want.
Repair -- Fix what needs attention, your body and otherwise. If you’ve been dragging around a nagging injury, quit being stubborn and see a specialist. If you got through the Season without injury, congrats! Don’t totally hibernate though! I’d suggest a Master’s swim group to refresh your stroke, a running group for some social running, and some fun cycling with friends – all to keep fit and on “tweaking” some specific skills. Don’t forget to continue (or start?) an easy strength and flexibility regime. If you cycle, don’t forget to fix that noise or rub you’ve been meaning to fix all year (see, it WAS your bike, not you)… Get a major bike tune-up (maybe new tires or components) or “winterize” it before you store it for a while. And check out your running shoes; maybe they need a break too – replace them if needed.
Soooo, refuel your body wisely, relax and enjoy some “down” time, reflect on the past year’s events, and repair both body and equipment – all in preparation for an awesome 2013. As always, train smart and stay safe.