You have been inundated with the importance of postseason in the bigger picture performance evolution of all levels of athletes. If you are reading this without a firm understanding of this time of year being focused around preparation for hard work, technical development, and year planning, I can only gulp in worry. If it IS the case — head back and have a browse of this piece on postseason.
With this backing, I thought it might be helpful for you folks to point out the classic bundle of pitfalls that I see athletes fall into over these months of looming winter. Remember, as you read below, this isn’t targeted for the broad range of all of the world’s athletes. Instead, I am targeting Purple Patch athletes - time-starved and in the middle of their post-season training - small (and hell, let’s call you a sparking elite group of marvelously shining Purple Patch athletes). I hope it helps — the pitfalls to avoid:
- Eagerness Leaking to Obsession: For the newcomers in the room — welcome aboard and I can smell the excitement among many of you (yes, my nose is that big and all-powerful). I realize that you want to put your best foot forward and see wonderful gains, and we want the same. I still urge patience and retaining a commitment to the process here. Like building a house, this part of the year isn’t going to yield visual gains, but they are critical. Preparation and technical development aren't sexy, but they are as important as the foundation of your house. Avoid charging for glory in the coming months; instead focus on doing things really ‘well’ from an execution, habit creation, and technical mindset.
- Holiday Panic: As an Englishman in America, I still have to get used to the fact that Halloween somehow marks the time of the year that the whole country slides into holiday mode. Holiday travel is super, but can be a source of panic among athletes. My advice? Don’t chase progression when holiday weeks bubble up. Instead, aim for doing enough to not regress and ensure you get minimal activation work in your schedule. Any more is a bonus, and remember that we coaches plan for these weeks and assume training will be less.
- Throw $$ at the Issues: Toys are fun, new bikes are lovely, and we should all get to embrace such additions. With this said, don’t fall into the trap that equipment is typically the answer. As they say, ‘new bike, same old engine.’ This is a great time to purchase new toys and make equipment changes, but just don’t feel pressure to take out a second mortgage thinking it will fix performance challenges.
- The Metric Obsessed: We are not chasing fitness gains. Remember that. Rest assured, they are happening at a baseline level of cellular development and tissue resilience, but we shouldn’t be tracking metrics to chart improvement. Should you upload and track? Yes. Should we obsess? No! Feel. Place all of your energy into feeling, technical development, doing things well. When running an endurance paced run, don’t spend time obsessing on heart rate or pace; instead, focus on form and feeling. Every time. We heighten the integration of metrics later — but not now.
- Overdoing It: Remember the magic word: progression. We need progression over phases of training and the year globally. If you are currently training at your peak weekly availability — stop it! Do a little less and be guilt-free in simple execution, but allowing room to grow. You will benefit from it.
With that in mind - go forth and execute.
Onward and upward.