School's out for summer but that doesn't mean your fitness needs to take a break.
We often see athletes that go into the spring super fit after a long winter of consistent training. They often don’t feel ready for that first race but end up doing well and are super excited about the rest of the season, only to end up struggling with performance during summer races and in their championship race in the fall. We have put together a few strategies to help you avoid that summer slump.
Don’t race every weekend.
How many times have you heard someone say they are just going to “race themselves into shape”? This strategy does work for athletes with very little fitness, but it does the opposite for athletes with relatively high levels of fitness. Racing every weekend usually means traveling the day before and after races. They are consistently missing their weekend long bike and run. These athletes also spend the early part of the week recovering and miss important interval sessions. Put 3-4+ weeks together like this and your overall fitness greatly diminishes.
We highly recommend a mid-season break with 7-10 days without structure.
Plan a mid-season break from training.
The XTERRA season is long. Athletes usually do their first race in April or May and end in October. It’s both mentally and physically draining to compete over this span. We highly recommend a mid-season break with 7-10 days without structure. This might be after a big race in July or August and coincide with a family vacation where training will be difficult anyway. It doesn’t mean stop training, but mix it up and try to be more social and less structured. Hop in more leisurely rides with your friends and don’t be afraid to leave your watch behind. You will come back more focused and ready for that last big push!
Pay attention to your Cumulative Training Load (CTL).
If you use Training Peaks to log your training, you will see your CTL score or cumulative training load. Without being too technical, this score reflects your average daily training load over the last 42 days. It is natural for your CTL score to drop a little during recovery and taper weeks, but you should see an overall up-trend over the course of the year with a plateau and even a little dip during the race season. However, when looking at athletes with too many races you will see a dramatic drop in CTL score. If you do not use training peaks, simply look back at your volume. If you notice that you were hovering around 10-12 hours of training per week, but in the last 30-40 days your weekly average has dropped to 4-6 hours because of racing, you have likely lost significant fitness.
Plan out your summer.
School’s out for summer! That might be great for the kids but often adds more chaos to our already busy lives. There are races, vacations, in-law visits and summer camps just to name a few. Get them on the calendar so that you can plan around them. If you don’t, you will end up missing workouts because things pop up you were not prepared for. Failing to plan is planning to fail.
Everything in moderation... including moderation.
Don’t avoid the neighborhood BBQ, but…
Everything in moderation... including moderation. Go to the BBQ, enjoy yourself, but no keg stands or rib eating contests. Often athletes get upset because they’re eating the right foods and not losing weight, but that hard work you’re putting in might just be the reason you’re maintaining weight and not gaining. Pay attention to your diet, but it’s OK to slip up every once in awhile. Tip: Don’t talk about your watts or your latest Strava top 10 because nobody cares.
Make your Monday and Tuesday workouts a priority.
Getting in your workouts on Monday and Tuesday without fail helps set you up for a successful week. It also helps motivate you to nail the workouts the rest of the week. If you miss those first couple workouts, it makes the rest of the week that much more stressful as you try to decide if you need to reprioritize the workouts you missed.
Do workouts first thing in the morning whenever possible.
Just like getting in those early week workouts, getting in workouts first thing in the morning helps set up your day. If you put off workouts until later in the day, there is a much better chance something will come up that seems more important. It doesn’t matter if you are a morning person or not, you are what you consistently do. Set the alarm, get up and charge. You won’t regret it!
Josiah Middaugh is the reigning XTERRA Pan American Champion, a 13x XTERRA National Champ, and the 2015 XTERRA World Champion. He has a masters degree in kinesiology and has been a certified personal trainer for 18 years (NSCA-CSCS). His brother Yaro, who wrote this article, also has a masters degree and has been an active USAT certified coach for more than a decade. Read past training articles at https://www.xterraplanet.com/training/middaugh-coaching-corner and learn more about their coaching programs at http://middaughcoaching.com.