As the majority of us embrace the post-season phase of training, we find ourselves in a perfect time to embrace a project. A real Purple Patch Project. For newer athletes, you might be confused by the meaning behind a project, so let me explain.
I see a project as:
A block of time in which you place a concerted emphasis on a part of the performance puzzle, in order to develop a positive habit, improve technically, establish great training habits, or set up improvement potential in the season ahead.
This is very broad, and that is because there is no magic bullet or secrets to choosing a project. So what can a project provide? In order to outline this, let’s remember what this phase is:
- Weeks to months of lower overall physical training load
- Extended freedom to enjoy other activities
- A critical phase of preparation (skills, tissue resilience, habits) for the upcoming season
Your season success is built on top of the platform of post-season, despite it being the phase that provides the least physical challenge, necessity to nail every session, or validation of massive fitness improvements. I believe it is so easy for athletes to wander mentally, and stray off structure too much, so there is nothing like a project to help course correct and stay focused. It is the perfect time to embrace a project, as you should have more capacity (if not, you are doing something wrong!). Let’s consider the types of projects I love:
- A run project: A fan-favorite and easy to execute. A multi-month approach to your running training in which the vast majority of running sessions are both easy (or as we call them: soul filling) and shorter. Frequency is the name of the games, with almost daily running without pursuit of big gains in fitness or speed. Instead, we chase tissue resilience and improvements in form. A session could be 7 - 10 minutes, you will have plenty of 20-40 min sessions, and just a sprinkle of intensity and occasional extended run. The key in this project is to build consistency over months, and not even focus on speed gains or boosting fitness. All the while it will be layering underneath he surface of perception, and put you in good stead for when you bring back an emphasis of harder running training. Ironically, this project should not dominate the training calendar, nor create massive muscular load. Think of it as fun and under the radar, with plenty of room for other training. Squad Athletes: you'll see optional Run Project sessions infused into some of your workouts, especially the swim sessions.
- A strength project: This is the perfect time to commit, and begin your year-long journey in strength. This happens to be my chosen project, as it is an area I tend to under-emphasize. Committing to embracing strength as a priority is important, but I think it deeper than this: a true strength project includes the ambition to really nail the exercise execution well, hence one of the reasons we love the video coaching. I also think this project should come hand-in-hand with leaning into accountability and community. Attending Watch Parties, leaving comments on the VODs, and other opportunities for shared accountability in the community will be massively helpful to your adoption and consistency, as well as truly doing the exercises well. Squad Athletes: you'll see optional add-on sets in each Strength workout from November 15 through the end of the year, for those looking to infuse heavy lifting into their sessions.
- A swim project: If swimming has been your weakness, or you have been highly restricted in swimming training over the last eighteen months, this is a good time to place emphasis. Technical development, consistency, and adding swim load is a good thing over the coming weeks. If you are a weak swimmer, you won’t regret it and it will help you as a broader athlete. Squad Athletes: look out for additional links in your swim workouts to drills and execution videos. If you really want to 'dive in' deeper to improve your swim, use the code PPF_Lifejackets_Off for $25 off our Swim Analysis service.
- A nutrition project. 2-3 months: a perfect time to lean into creating new habits, developing knowledge and truly understanding your best approach to your fueling and nutrition. Training stress is lower, you have no looming race, so dive all in. it is a commitment, and takes bravery, but a 2-3 month focus on the big topic should develop a toolkit and set of habits that lead you into control, energy and performance returns next year. FuelIn is a key partner in this endeavor, both through their commitment to interactive live events and integrated education exclusively for Purple Patch athletes, and (of course) their services. 1:1 and Squad athletes: the first Expert Office Hours with the FuelIn team will be November 8 at 5pm Pacific, all around post-season nutrition success -- it's free, but registration is required! Make sure you RSVP here.
These are four examples of high quality projects for the coming months. You don’t need any major programming changes, and can easily build around the baseline plan. This isn’t about ‘training for something hard’. It is about habit creation and tissue resilience. You don’t need to choose all the projects, but 1-2 will fit well.
A final word: if there is one other magic project, for me, it would honestly be around embracing the benefits of the video coaching. In my professional opinion these sessions are truly valuable. Strength and Bike. I would urge you to lean into the live Watch Party sessions in the coming months -- there is much more to come on these, but also the video-on-demand (VOD) and live offerings. The magic only comes if you truly immerse, lean in and engage with each session in a committed way. But I promise you that -- if you do -- then the sessions will help you improve. How about a Watch Party project?