A simple answer is: It should be long enough.
…Which brings us to the purpose: To establish a physical and psychological status where I’m able to absorb structured training and evolve as an athlete. (This is my own “definition” that I came up with to guide myself during the last months).
This is my third post on the subject since Kona. I had a plan, based on experience and other people’s knowledge. But reality didn’t turn out as the plan…
Compare it to cooking. You might follow a recipe, but (hopefully) you adjust to the circumstances. Maybe a little bit more salt and some extra cream to make it taste as you want. Perhaps the chicken needs a little bit longer in the oven to reach the desired temperature. And I want my training menu to be as tasty as possible!
Since October I’ve ”adjusted to the circumstances” – a lot. The plan (recipe) said 3 weeks completely off, followed by 1-2 weeks easy start and then back to structured training. The completely-off part went according to plan 🙂 . But the 1-2 weeks easy start ended with ”A weak week”-post. And the weak weeks went on and on…
I can’t say it didn’t bother me. On the contrary. I got a bit worried since I couldn’t recognize the way my body felt and behaved. But, I did not push it. Instead I tried to walk the talk and listen to the signals. And the signals said: Take it easy, more rest needed. I tried a couple of swim sessions, some light indoor biking and a few short runs. I also went to the gym. And all this was done with one purpose: Recover & test. The outcome of these tests was: continue with recovery. Like when you open the oven to see if your chicken is ready. Some times it isn’t, even if the time stated in the recipe has passed. Then you can either follow the recipe and eat a partly rare chicken… which might turn out to be a bad decision, or you can be patient and wait.
I chose to be patient. And tried to handle the potential stress emerging from this since I reconed the need for more recovery was due to the stress I had put my body and mind through during the season. Not the least the total exhaustion I pushed myself to in Kona. I’m super happy with the outcome, but the experience during the last 1 k and the 2 hours following my finish is nothing I would recommend. And with that in mind, I shouldn’t be too surprised that my body and mind needed more time to recover than I’ve ever been close to.
But! Today I completed the first session during which I felt the way I want to (and I’m used to) during an easy training session! My mind was clear, the heart rate stayed on an expected level and I wasn’t exhausted afterwards. It turned into a 15 k easy pace run session (the ambition was to try to run at least 12 k with a good feeling).
So, maybe I’m ready to start some structured training again. After 11 (ELEVEN!) weeks of off-season. I’ll give it a try, meaning that I will start planning for about 8 hours of training per week during January. Focus will be on easy sessions and strength training. If it works out as I hope, I’ll then ramp it up in intensity come February.
During January I’ll also finalise my ambitions for 2019. After all, I want to sense that I’m able to train properly again when I set my objectives for the coming season.
And if it turns out to be true that I’m ready for training now – I’ll have a new answer to the question “How long should the off season be?”: “It should be long enough, usually somewhere between 3 and 11 weeks. And I recommend you go for well done”
/Calle – 2 x AG World Champion 2018 and off-season specialist 😀