If your swimming doesn't have an off-season, its time to re-think how you are approaching your training.
Most swimmers spend almost 10 months out of the year practicing and when the time off comes, most swimmers end up BACK IN THE POOL?!?!
There are three basic reasons that I recommend taking your off-season seriously.
1. Just like sleep, your body needs time to rest.
When you train for anything at all, you slowly overload your system to stimulate your body to improve. Swimmers are incredibly good at doing this and usually its 6 days a week. But just like our brain needs sleep to make sure we recover, remember, and have capacity to learn more, so does our body. Off-season is the time your body can use to build all of the systems you have depleted. Muscular imbalances develop during the season, recovery isn't quite sufficient and for the most part swimmers spend their season in a deficit (thats why taper works)
2. Love it, or not, your mind needs something else.
Hyper-focusing on one single thing is fatiguing. Have you written a paper before and tried for hours to write one sentence? You look at it over and over and it seems more difficult to write each time. Yet, as soon as you take a break, and come back you can write it down in seconds. Focusing on performance can have the same toll. We need to be able to walk away, let our mind decompress and then come back. You are training your mind as much as your body. If you want that mental toughness at the end of an 8,000 yd practice to push yourself just one more time, your mind needs a break while it can get it.
3. Health, fun and the summer sun.
This time off can be productive. Whether it is working to prevent injury next season, introduce a new, mindful eating program or working out in a different way you can use this time off to your advantage.
It's time to have some fun. We have all had to turn down weekend plans with friends because of practice or a swim meet. Go have fun, and stick to your cross-training plan.
The summer sun is there to entice you outside to different adventures. Listen to it. You will have the time to get back into the coziness of the "chlorine cloud" soon enough.
Interested in what to do instead?
In the unlikely event you can't find a way to stay healthy, in shape and have fun over the summer, call a friend! Call a coach! Ask someone else who may have gone through it.
If you are looking for something structured and specific, give me a call.
Don't waste the summer sitting around waiting for it to end.
Dr. Dan Fay, PT, DPT, FAAOMPT