I hope everyone is enjoying their long weekends if you’re living in the States! It’s that time of the year again, even though World Track Champs is bleeding over into the start of it, for most teams out there it’s cross-country season. Now, cross-country season comes at another funky time if said person is still is in school; it’s right after summer break and classes are also starting up.
Now, for lots of high school kids, and I’m sure yes even some college level athletes, summer vacation may or may not include sticking to that training schedule. Now, I’m anal and was always getting in my runs and whatever I was supposed to do regardless (you’re talking to the girl who got into a fight with her mom because of the timing of that looooong, drawn out high school graduation ceremony conflicting with a track meet…I mean, I knew I graduated, did I need to sit for four plus hours sweating bullets in that robe?!) but others not so much.
You can tell off the bat who did their summer running and who didn’t. In fact, I think it was Alberto Salazar that was quoted with something along the lines of, “I like to be in the best possible shape at the onset of the season so I can put the people who didn’t train through the worst possible torture that I can.”
Whether it’s due to actual quasi-malicious intent by your teammates or not, I would suspect that slacking in the off-season bring its own swift justice come practice time. I was joking with a high school coach as they were off to their first team practice, and he was mentioning how it should be interesting to see who did what they were supposed to over the summer.
There are those people that do snap into shape relatively fast, and thanks to good old muscle memory if you’ve been at this thing long enough, after a few horrible few weeks it is surprising how fast you’ll improve and be back to your ‘old self.’ Still, it’s never fun, or pretty, coming back to running after a break.
This goes whether it’s just a slacking-induced break or one that is planned (you DO need to take breaks periodically and especially after tough seasons) or even ones that come from an injury. During said injury you can be a master at the cross-training but it’s always a cold slap of reality when you return to actual running no matter what you did.
That last one, coming back from an injury and starting to run again, can be rather defeating if you start to compare yourself to the ‘old you’ times and where you are now. Running is so mental that if you slip into that comparison trap too far you can take yourself out of the game, or the season, altogether. Heck, sometimes even the sport. So it’s not pretty…don’t go down that road.
Better to focus on the here and now and the workout set immediately before you. Put in the effort, in fact that’s paramount regardless of times, so many other factors can affect actual paces and times, but even if the pace is ‘off,’ if you are putting in the same amount of effort you are getting a benefit. (Side tangent here- so remember that sometimes when a workout is just going to pieces timewise, sometimes it’s just better to chuck the watch and put in the same amount of effort…your body is still working hard and cardio-wise you’re still reaping those benefits.)
Staying present in the season or where you are fitness-wise is best if you’re coming off a running hiatus. Start with a semi-blank slate and track your progress post-injury when it comes to workouts…then take the improvements you see there are big steps forward. Trust me, it will feel like he** sometimes getting back, but eventually if you keep at it and do everything right you’ll get back to the ‘old you’ and then some.
So to all those starting cross-season, you might have had a race this weekend…where you one of the people inflicting torture on the other people who maybe skipped out on those morning runs, or were you one of the people paying the price?
1) If you competed in sports, did you always put in the work during the off-season?
See, this is one thing where my OCD can work to my favor if kept in check…if a coach tells me to do something you can bet I’ll do it, I get in trouble if I then do too much. Though, I think for ‘normal’ people it’s more of a progression, the more serious you get about a sport the more likely you are to want to train even when you’re not under supervision. You get to the point where you’re self-motivated to achieve certain goals you set for yourself.
2) If it’s an injury that kept you from running, isn’t it a bi*** coming back?! No, but really, I think it’s about a two week period of extra pain until you start to come back. What was the last major injury that kept you out and did you do any cross-training during that time? If so, what did you do?
I’m a big fan of the elliptical!
3) How are you living it up this weekend?
PS-this is another side tangent that NEEDS to be addressed…I have noticed that recently as things have been switching around techie-wise, I’ve gotten a TON of spam comments!! To the actual readers I’m very sorry and does anyone have any tips on how to block this?! I seriously spent over an hour just today deleting this junk…ugh!