| Article written on October 3rd, 2016 at 09:57am | Follow Garrett on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram |
The offseason is by far the most important yet underutilized training period for athletes. Too often athletes approach this time without reflecting on their previous accomplishments, or lack thereof, and refocusing where attention needs to be spent. Some key questions I implore you to ask yourself before missing this opportunity are:
- Are you happy with your results in the past year?
- Did you create a set of goals that you wanted to accomplish?
- Which ones of them did you actually achieve?
- Did you suffer any overuse injuries, tightness, or limited mobility?
- What was the most difficult aspect of your training?
- Did you utilize strategies like foam rolling, dynamic warm-up, functional training, cool-down/recovery?
These are all areas we really need to dig into moving forward. The offseason is not just a time where there are no competitive races, but rather an opportunity to reflect, reassess, refocus, and rebuild. Let’s put our energy into doing a complete audit of the past, before creating an intentional plan for success in the future.
From a functional movement standpoint, the offseason is golden! Because sport-specific training should be very low to non-existent, this is a time where we can really place emphasis on fixing and/or rebuilding the foundation. The groundwork laid in the offseason can pay huge dividends once your races are carefully chosen and the training program put in place.
As you begin to craft an offseason plan that will make 2017 a year to remember, here are 4 tips that I know will make you more successful:
1. Reflect. Let’s take a look at 2016… What were your goals at the start of the year? Did you achieve them? If not, what things held you back from the success you once thought was yours for the taking? These are some questions you need to ask yourself before moving forward.
If you had struggles in the past that played a role in not seeing the results you wanted, it’s important to look deeper within them. Are there any recurring themes? This could be anything from lack of preparation, poor nutrition, inconsistency in your training program, injury, poor endurance and performance, lack of guidance, and so much more. Out of the areas you believe could have contributed to your lack of success, which ones are the easiest to fix? I recommend starting here.
2. Reassess. When it comes to movement, having a strong knowledge of your body is important. Every offseason brings with it the need to reassess your strengths and weaknesses from a functional movement standpoint. Do you have any imbalances or asymmetries? Are there issues with your movement that could increase the risk of injury and/or limit performance?
I can confidently say that many of you don’t know the answer to those questions. This is because I evaluate runners and triathletes just like you on a daily basis. They come to me to get “stronger,” when there are so many underlying issues that need to be corrected first. Improving function is essential in the offseason. That’s why reassessing your movement competency and resolving any issues is of the utmost importance.
3. Refocus. Once you have reflected and reassessed, it’s time to be more intentional. I know you want to schedule that New Years Day race, but is it really what you need to get on track?
Based off the previous two points, what steps need to be taken to make sure 2017 is a success? Is it being more consistent with your training? Hiring a performance coach to improve poor movement and function? There are so many different recommendations that could be listed here. In the end, it should be individualized to your needs.
4. Rebuild. Since my focus is primarily the movement and injury prevention side, I recommend supplementing your training with these strategies. Oftentimes when it comes to running and triathlon, the body takes a beating. Mileage begins to ramp up and, if not well prepared, injury and/or poor performance can be the result.
That is why having a functional training program in place is so valuable. And, when I say functional training, I don’t solely mean “strength training”. Yes, that is one aspect of functional training, but in my opinion possibly the least important.
Functional training can consist of anything from a proper dynamic warm-up, to foam rolling and self-myofascial release (SMR), and everything in between. Essentially, it’s a supplement to your running/triathlon program to keep the body fine tuned, moving efficiently, and performing at its best. And it begins in the offseason. That is the main reason I wanted to write this article because I know you will see great results when rebuilding the foundation.
Anyway, I hope you found this article valuable and will take some time to put things in perspective. If you think functional training is a strategy that would allow you to be more successful, I invite you to join my 8-week Offseason Group Functional Training Program. This program will undoubtedly provide you the best functional movement strategies to build a solid foundation in the offseason. Click here for more details or contact me with any questions. Good luck this offseason!
By: Garrett McLaughlin, MS, ATC, CSCS, ART