Post Season. Now What?

Runners doing a run workout
January 20, 2017

Jim Hallberg



Well, you're probably thinking it's been a long, hard season. Whether you've just completed your big Ironman race or conquered several tough races, the major event is now behind you. You've had time to reflect on your season, identified next year's goals, but maybe you're not quite ready to dive back into intense training. So, what's next?

As both an athlete and a coach, I understand this phase well, and I'm here to offer you a few recommendations for a post-season plan.

Firstly, consider reducing volume, intensity, and perhaps even focus on being a single-sport athlete for a while. Fall is an excellent time to embrace running. With the changing leaves and cooler weather, running becomes more enjoyable. The cooler temperatures also help regulate your core body temperature, leading to better performances if you choose to push yourself.

Initially, I suggest scaling back significantly, almost to a remedial level, in terms of total running volume. Many of my athletes, even after completing an Ironman, find joy in starting a simple run program with 10-minute runs, maybe five days a week. During these runs, focus solely on time. Don't worry about pace, distance, or heart rate; just go by feel and enjoyment. The goal is to finish your run before any hint of fatigue sets in. Pay attention to your posture, fostering good habits regardless of the run's duration.

Incorporate some strides or 20-second accelerations within or after your runs twice a week to promote good leg turnover. These shouldn't be too taxing; rather, they should add a bit of zest to your runs. Additionally, consider adding fun trail runs and social runs with friends back into your routine, activities you may have neglected during focused training periods. Gradually increase your run duration by adding 5 minutes to your run every week until you're running approximately 30 minutes, five days a week.

Once you're comfortably running for 30 minutes each session, you'll face a decision. You can continue running for enjoyment, or perhaps you'll feel the urge to test your limits.

At this point, there are two paths you can take:
1. Remain comfortable and focus on building endurance, opting for a 5k or 10k race.
2. Utilize your summer strength to achieve fast times in cooler temperatures and pursue your goals aggressively.

For those considering the latter option, fall temperatures are ideal for achieving peak performances. Runner's World recently published an article detailing the optimal outdoor temperature for fast times, suggesting it to be in the 40-degree range. Regardless, fall temperatures are certainly more favorable than the scorching summer heat.

If you're looking to reignite your competitive spirit or simply want to become a stronger runner without the worry of biking and swimming, keep it fun and maintain a positive attitude. Remember, running is an extension of being a triathlete for many of us, so these events should be stress-free and enjoyable. You may even surprise yourself with a fast time when the pressure is off. Embrace the joy of running, and let go of expectations that come with prescribed workouts and races.

Here are some fun ways to maintain your speed:
- Engage in a pick-up game of soccer or ultimate Frisbee, or join local high school kids for speed runs.
- Incorporate non-traditional speed work once a week or opt for entertaining speed workouts.
- Try trail races for a new adventure and a chance to meet new people.

By stepping away from your usual routines and annual races, you'll likely become mentally and physically stronger. Running requires minimal prep time and equipment, making it an accessible activity anytime, anywhere.

So, go out there and have fun running!

Jim Hallberg believes that each of us has the potential to improve our efficiency, strength, and speed in running, biking, or swimming. While it takes time, dedication, and discipline, it's entirely possible. Working with an experienced coach can ensure that your efforts are targeted in the right areas to help you achieve your goals!

Coach Jim Hallberg notices that some athletes spend too much time focusing solely on their strengths or just on their weaknesses. As a coach, he believes you should work on both. Your strengths can give you a competitive edge in one or more of the disciplines but spend an inordinate amount of time on them and you can forgo progress in other areas. Not enough time and you’ll see them diminish. Same with your weaknesses.  Coach Jim works with you to build a plan to balance the two and make you the best overall athlete you can be!

Coach Jim is a 5X USA Triathlon National Champion, a USA Triathlon Level II Certified Coach and USA Cycling Level II Certified Coach.

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