This is a time of year that requires a lot of courage, patience, and presence to achieve the greatest yields from the work that you put in. Postseason isn’t typically a phase of training that you would associate with the word "courage," but if you remember one of my favorite phrases in performance -“It takes courage to recover,” we begin to appreciate the context.
For the fearful, the obsessed, and those externally motivated, this is a terrifyingly horrible phase of the year. The reason being that, if they are executing the program as intended, they will get very little validation of progress. By definition, if we agree that the phase of training is preparatory, it means that we are not chasing massive fitness gains or executing sessions that provide that buzz of fitness and power progression. Postseason demands a few key elements:
- Breathing room: Less training than usual and less global total training stress that one is accustomed to (does not mean all low intensity!)
- Potpourri: a mix up of different disciplines and approaches. We should not be obsessively driving in just swim, bike, run.
- Systemic and emotional recovery: The body and mind need to refresh.
With these as the backbone of the approach, it requires real courage to follow orders, give yourself room and rest, and commit to the longer-term path. You must do this all the while realizing the work you are doing now is critical and your upcoming season goals are edging closer and not shrinking in size. Courage.
Beyond the courage, our second word is patience. All of our training is preparatory -- priming the body to be ready and equipped to handle, absorb, and achieve optimal adaptations from the hard work that arrives in the coming months. There is no validation, quick-fix, or immediate yield. We don’t chase boosting power, running faster, or PRs in swimming. They will come if we are present now. Even the strength and conditioning is about developing appropriate movement patterns and setting up for bigger gains in phases ahead. You do today for what comes tomorrow. Chipping at the trunk of a tree without any visual imprint in the progression toward seeing the tree fall down. Patience.
The final word is presence. Goals remain far enough away to feel like time is on our side, the work is not overly challenging, and our prior season is yet to fade from the rearview mirror in our mind. We add this to the request that you have a somewhat looser mindset in execution and allow yourself a lower focus on the program globally. Despite this, when executing the sessions, the optimal yield will only bubble up if you are completely engaged at the task at hand. You must be present. By engaging and immersing your mind into the elements of postseason you achieve:
- A sense of pacing and awareness -- the inner animal
- Technical developments that stick
- Increased chance that habit changes will stay with you
- A transition to work with optimal results from this block of work
Just because the program overall is easier, and we don’t look back at missed sessions, doesn’t dilute the requirement to aim to get everything out of every session -- even if that session is purely technical. Training is purposeful and progressive and that remains the truth for the sessions in the postseason as it does for a race build.
Courage, patience, presence. Keywords for your postseason journey. Let’s go get that 2020 Purple Patch -- it can be your year.