We talked about the overall philosophy of approaching an off season in Part 1 here. But what are some specific guidelines?
When is the Best Time of Day to Train?
Any time is the best time if it means you will complete the session. Work or other commitments might need to take priority, so fitting in the session when you can is the most important thing. If you have an option, then train in the morning. Get it done and out of the way. It will give you the rest of your day free for doing other things with your life. If you leave it to the evening, it might be easy to fall into the trap of telling yourself “I will do it tomorrow instead”.
Find a Good Oval
For running based conditioning, it’s best to run on grass surfaces. Many sports are played on grass, so it would make sense to complete your conditioning on a grass surface. A sudden change to running on hard surfaces like concrete paths or the road leaves you at risk of developing bone stress and lower leg injuries, not to mention the increased impact on your joints.
For court based sports. A change up to conditioning on grass every (especially for higher volumes) can help take the load off your joints.
Find a Quality Facility
For team based sports, you may have access to your club’s facilities such as ovals, gym, courts etc. Using this is good as you know what you’re going to get, often it is convenient and there is everything you need to complete your program. On the other hand, training elsewhere at a local oval or gym, gives you a mental break from the club, you meet new people and can train in a different environment. Do your research and find a quality gym, pool or court that suits you.
Choose your training facility wisely: It should have all the equipment you need for your training.
Your program might involve an aerobic and weight training component. Do you run or gym first? Train the most important aspect first. For weightlifters, they would prioritise their weight training. For runners, aerobic conditioning would be priority, then their gym work. For team based sports, it would be their conditioning/skill based training and then their gym work. If you have 2 workouts scheduled for the same day, try and leave 6 hours between sessions to ensure recovery and maintain good training quality.
Mix up your training with some swimming, cycling or Pilates. Now is the time to try new things and give the body other training stimuli. It also helps keep you mentally fresh and engaged. Like all things, don’t go overboard, introduce the new exercises gradually to let your body adapt.
It’s your off season, and therefore you may be socialising more and consuming alcohol (if you're over 18!). Alcohol consumption will not help athletic performance. If you do have a night out though, avoid high intensity training the next day. Plan ahead. Scheduling a tough session the day after a night out leaves you at a higher risk of picking up an injury, not to mention the quality of the session will be compromised. If you are going to have a drink, perhaps schedule a lower intensity training session the next day or have a day off in preparation for the next session.
Sit down and plan your off season. Using a monthly planner is effective to see the big picture and how everything fits. Put in your scheduled training days, social events, travel and other work or study commitments to figure out if there any clashes and what adjustments need to be made. Remember, it’s still a plan so it’s good to be flexible.
Train with a Friend
Having a training buddy is a great way to keep you accountable, help with motivation and improve the quality of your sessions. Find a partner with similar goals and availability. It will help with those days when you just cannot be bothered.