Fall and winter is often a transitional time for paddlers. After the last race in summer the off-season usually begins. “Off-season” is a word that many of us don’t like at all. It kind of sounds like pulling the plug. Putting the body on “off.” In addition, it’s getting cold and dark early, which makes it difficult for most of us to get out on the water after a long day at work. But does that mean we can’t do our beloved sports anymore? Are we supposed to lie around lazily on the couch and become fat? That is not possible! Unfortunately, this is how some paddle athletes feel about the off-season. Too often it is neglected that a time-out for body and mind, at least once a year, is very important for us and our performance.
The off-season describes a phase that immediately follows at the end of the season. No matter when exactly the off-season starts, it is important to include an off-season in your training schedule. During this time, a conscious break is taken to allow the body to recover from the stresses of the season. Many athletes underestimate the importance of the off-season. Especially tendons, ligaments, the immune system and the fasciae regenerate during the off-season. That’s why it’s so important to reduce the volume and intensity of your training. Many endurance athletes are afraid that the off-season will have a negative effect on their performance level. Those who think long-term know that this is the wrong approach. Because while it is of course true that the off-season decreases your performance in the short term due to the lack of training, the long-term positive consequences of the off-season clearly outweigh this. This is because the off-season ensures that the risk of injury and illness for the new season is significantly reduced, and the body can recharge its batteries so that it is fully rested and ready to start preparing for the new season. In addition to the significance for physical regeneration, the off-season also plays an important mental role. Our psyche also needs a rest too. Poor nutrition is also negative for the off-season. Especially in this time, a healthy diet is quite profitable. The better the nutritional composition of our food intake, the better we regenerate and – for all those who find the off-season a mental hurdle – the faster we also regenerate.
The off-season is perfect to try out something new! You can do different sports you don’t have time for during the season. Of course, you can still go paddling, but mix it up with different stuff like biking, running, skiing (for those who have snow ;)). But keep in mind, everything you do should be in the regenerative zone. Means low intensity with a low heart rate and a shorter duration then during your training period. This is the time to recover from the last season and build the base for the coming one. That’s why all the workouts should be in the regenerative zone. In concrete, you can go paddling with an heart rate in Zone 2 while breathing only through your nose. This will keep your heart rate down anyway. Use the break to look forward to the adventures of the new season and thus gather mental strength. You are not rewarded for starting but for persevering and make it playful. Cut the distance in pieces! That makes it easier as you go step by step closer to your personal goal. Nothing is more beautiful than the anticipation of what is to come. Just keep on moving and get out there! Do it together with friends and make the off-season a fun time!