Trust me. I know. It’s already a thing of the past and you have long forgotten it.
OK, so how is the training going in your off-season?
Wait…don’t tell me. It’s been less than perfect. Maybe “fair”. Maybe “next to nothing” is a more accurate description.
Well, can I ask you about your goals? Your ambitions? Remember those? Are they still the same, or have you scaled back your expectations, or redefined them, or changed your thoughts about them altogether?
This is what happens to everybody, and I mean everybody, at times. It’s a period that I call “The Dark Ages”, and it can happen at any time of the year and at any point in the season. Often, it pops up in February, which Melissa Schwartz alludes to as the “Holiday Hangover” in her recent blog post.
Multisport is often considered a “lifestyle” because we rightly put a premium on being able to train consistently. It is when we break from that consistency, whether our fault or not, that we transition into The Dark Ages. Things that I have observed that break the consistency include:
* Poor weather (ice, snow, cold, wind chill)
* Equipment problems (pool closure, bicycle breakdown)
* Family stress (spouse, children, relatives)
* Job/school stress
…and I am sure that is a very partial list. Again, chaos can occur anytime of the year, but even the best intentions on New Year’s Eve are often thwarted by February after you get back to work (or school) and find the job has changed, and the family has new problems (including the cold/flu that they gave you), and you can’t train because it is “too cold” or “too dark”.
Uncorrected, The Dark Ages can stretch for days. Miss one or two planned workouts? No big deal. Miss a few days? Then you may have spiraled down over the abyss. One marker of The Dark Ages that I occasionally see as a coach is that an athlete will tend to provide less and less feedback and communication. Sometimes, the athlete may pass this off (legitimately or not) as being “too busy to write/call”. However, I often see this as the athlete being embarrassed to tell the full truth. The more training is skipped or shortchanged, the more embarrassing the news is, and the more likely that the athlete doesn’t want to discuss it. When I was a kid,
this is exactly how I talked to (er, tap danced around) my mom and dad about things (e.g. grades, broken windows, etc.) that I did not want to openly confront.
That is one big reason why, among many others, multisport athletes should have a coach. The coach (and other friends) can only help in a limited sense. That is, coaches and others can’t change the weather, cure your cold or make you like your boss at work. But coaches can help you arrest the downward spiral,
refocus your attention, and suggest ways to help you cope with the circumstances in more positive ways (all without having to violate your intimate privacy).
There is a wide field in psychology focused on mental skills, sports performance, happiness, being “In the Zone”, and so forth…an entirely different subject much larger than a blog can contain. In the meantime, realize that The Dark Ages are temporary, and that one of the best ways to regain consistency begins with connecting (or reconnecting) to a/your coach…in a way that makes your coach less of a “parent” and more of an “partner” in your journey.