According to Brody Welte off season training can be focused in on 3 founding building blocks: Recovery, Habits and Mental Game.
"The wintertime brings weather that is not conducive to getting on the water in most places. Not being able to paddle is not always a bad thing. The number one issue that I see with all levels of paddlers is that they do not fully understand recovery. I am not talking about recovery from injuries. If you do have injuries, the offseason is a great time to get them healed up and taken care of. First, lets define recovery as best as we can. Recovery is a sustainable, holistic approach to letting your body rest. I was fortunate enough to participate in a mentorship program with EXOS, which is considered one of the top performance companies in the world. Their focus on recovery is so strong that they include it as one of their 4 tenants (Mindset, Nutrition and Movement are the other 3). They even take it one step further and include it in their definition of success.
Work + Recovery = Success
Recovery incorporates things like rest time between sets to rest time between training sessions, but it also includes sleep, massage, stretching and nutrition. There is not enough time to talk about the training components of recovery or nutrition but I do want to focus on sleep and massage, or self massage in this case. Sleep is the lynchpin that holds everything together. You have heard the phrase that you cannot out-train a bad diet, it is also true that you cannot out-train poor sleep. There are so many studies about the ill effects of poor sleep hygiene and how it effects every single aspect of your life from memory to physical performance.
Whether we realize it or not, habits rule our life. Every behavior both good and bad usually is the result of a habit. A habit is a behavior that becomes automatic through repetition. Think about brushing your teeth, it is a part of your routine before you go to bed, most of the time you do not have to think about it. When you were four years old, your parents had to force you to brush your teeth because they wanted it to become a habit in your life. Our focus should be to facilitate the habits that we want and to replace the ones that we don’t. The offseason, especially the first part of the year is a great time to focus on developing good habits. There is a common rule that if you can perform the behavior that you want for 21 days then it will become a habit. The same can be said for breaking a habit if you stop it for 21 days. I am not sure if this is true or not and honestly it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the more you perform the behavior the more likely it is to become a habit and the less you perform the behavior the less likely it is to become a habit. Check out what a Hall of Fame basketball player says about habits:
“Excellence is not a singular act but a habit. You are what you do repeatedly.” -Shaquille O’Neal
So how do we apply this to the off-season? First you sit down and write out your “perfect” day, meaning that you write down in order and with specific times every action and behavior that you want in your life. Include everything like brushing your teeth, meal times, snacks, down time and training times. Place this piece of paper in a place that you can reference it often. Your goal is to live as closely as you can to this perfect day, keep in mind that some days you will fail miserably. Don’t let this sidetrack you, just get back to living your perfect day. Make sure you spend time the night before to do any planning such as packing your meals or scheduling training appointments. The goal is to establish the habits that you want and get rid of the habits that you don’t. The world’s top performers waste very little time each day and stick to their plan as much as possible.
3. Mental Game
Ahh the mental game, such an ambiguous topic with many experts. I hear all the time how important the mental game is, but very few have an answer as how to solve it. I am going to keep it simple, it all comes down to gratitude. If you are thankful, you are in a very powerful frame of mind that can accomplish much. I really don’t care if your situation is bad or good or indifferent, there is always something to be thankful for. How many times have you heard someone say that they were the most thankful for the bad times in their life? I hear it all the time from the successful ones. This is a great quote from the greatest basketball player of all time:
“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” -Michael Jordan
These 3 concepts are a very important part of developing a solid foundation for you to be successful. There is no better time than the offseason to work on these things for you to be on point for the upcoming season. Work hard and see you on the water."
Leah M. Seacrest is the VP of Fitness Onboard®, co-author and Program Director of the Fitness Onboard Certification©, a Stroops SUP Training Specialist, co-founder of SUPcessories™, and YOLO team athlete. Here are her 3 tips:
"The off-season can be crucial in providing you the opportunity to enhance your in-season performance by taking steps to improve range of motion, joint stability, total body strength, endurance, stabilization, and power as well as improve upon your cardiorespiratory endurance.
Improve stability and balance by incorporating exercises using a Bosu, stability ball, or an Indo board. Need to feel a SUP under your feet? Bring yours inside, remove the fin and place on cushions to get the effect. Try squats, deadlifts and shoulder presses to challenge your stabilizers. You can also get your SUP fix by finding a local indoor SUP fitness class. These classes are exploding around the country with formats like strength/conditioning, yoga and pilates.
Increase your strength and power by hitting the weights. Go the extra mile with movements that require rotation-like lunges with rotation, back extensions with rotation and woodchops. Power can be enhanced by performing explosive exercises like medicine ball throws, burpees and box jumps.
Run, walk or bike for cardiovascular endurance. If the weather outside is frightful, indoor rowing can also be a great addition to your routine, or try out that fitness class you have neglected to try.
Often overlooked is the need to improve flexibility. Adding flexibility training helps to correct muscle imbalances, increase your joint range of motion and it relieves stress. Yoga, pilates, and foam rolling are great additions to your fitness routine year round. Lastly, donʼt forget to use the off-season to try something new and fun!"
Then there is Roch Frey, a former professional triathlete, endurance coach, paddler and contributor to Riding Bumps.com, who believes in the importance of slowing down in the off-season. Here is his big 3:
"Step 1: Plan on letting your fitness wane a bit through the winter months. Nobody, not even Chuck Norris, can operate in peak form month in and month out. At some point in the year you are going to have to take your foot off the gas and let your fitness wane. You will be slower than you were a few months ago. Your head will tell you that are going to get fat and out of shape. Your friends will chide you for training like a sissy. This is a good thing. Embrace it. If you do, when you put your foot back on the gas you will like what you see.
Step 2: Let your fitness wane does not mean get all fat and lazy. Dialing things back a bit does not mean that you should sit on the cough and eat hot Cheetos. You want to maintain your “low end fitness” and take this time to build your endurance base, work on muscular imbalances, and keep things moving. As a paddler, focus on your cross training. That means get on the bike, go for a run, or get on a prone paddleboard. Keep your workouts below 70% max. Go longer and slower rather than harder. You should also get in the gym, focus on your flexibility, and do those things you don’t normally do during the race season like spend time with your family, surfing, skiing, or whatever floats your boat.
Step 3: All work and no play makes jack a dull boy. Allow yourself to cheat 10% on your base training. From time to time you need to give in to your desire to do something else other than go long and slow. Put in a few short intervals during a workout once a week. If you have a short race in the middle of your base training go for it. A little bit of intensity here and there will not ruin your race season. Our recommendation, however, is to keep it to less than 10% of your training load. In San Diego we have a weekly pre-season interval session through the winter that serves this purpose. We post these workouts every week to our Ridingbumps.com Facebook and Twitter feeds and in our newsletter."