Here we are at Easter, and some of the athletes have reached out to me with some worrisome reports about some health and injury issues they are coping with, and already resigning themselves to a poor racing season. They ask me if their seasons are salvageable or should they just start looking to 2018 already. Whether it's a lagging sickness or a niggling injury, a few weeks of reduced activity or inactivity is causing these athletes to consider pulling the ripcord on racing in 2017.
My first thought here is, "2018? 2017 has barely begun!" Sure, a Fall/Winter of preparation may have been compromised to a certain degree, but this in no way creates a situation where the athlete needs to already throw in the towel on this season of racing. The thought is that given a big volume of training time has been lost, there's no way to "make it up." Which, at this point of the year, is completely untrue! There is plenty of time to get fitness back on track and to be ready for mid- to late-season racing.
The athletes ORION Training Systems work with don't focus on "base miles" or winters of big volume. Rather, we use what is typically the cold of the year to reduce volume, increase intensity and keep the body opened up. This is a fantastic foundation on which to build up volume as key races start coming into focus. For example, now is the time OTS triathletes are starting to increase volume for late-June to early-August 70.3 and Ironman racing. OTS cyclists are now starting to extend weekend rides and incorporate short, race simulation group rides mid-week. And our runners are graduating from shorter speedwork sessions into more race-specific sessions tailored toward a peak in the coming months. In other words, we are on the cusp of increasing volume now because the longer days and warmer temps naturally allow for this. There is little -- very little -- benefit to spending countless hours on the indoor bike trainer during the off-season. It's neither necessary nor beneficial.
Worrying that you are "unfit" to compete in a Summer long-distance race of any kind because you missed some key training time in the Fall/Winter is a fairly useless hand-wringing exercise. Go back to the top of this post -- control the controllables. You cannot control the fact that you missed training time -- for whatever reason and for whatever the duration. What you can control is what you do from this day forward to positively impact your preparation.
We all go through rough patches. It's part-and-parcel with being an endurance athlete wishing to compete. If you missed some key training this past Fall/Winter, but were still able to complete between one- to two-thirds of your scheduled volume, then you're in a good place! You have not ruined your ability to have a successful race season. There is no reason to write off 2017. Instead, thing of this -- the extra downtime has left your body all the fresher so now you will be able to push it a little bit more and a little bit more than if you already had many months of accumulated pounding and fatigue. Focus forward and get excited for a great Spring and Summer of fantastic training and great race experiences!