The annual Christmas Church Choir Concert of off-season blog posts has begun. "I'm stepping back, reevaluating things. Changes are afoot." "I'm researching things so the problems of this year won't impact the success of next year." "I've identified the key to success next year, just you wait and see."
These refrains are not disingenuous, nor are they out of place, as off-season is the time to address problems and changes.
They are just vague as h*ll. No one ever outlines exactly what they have done, researched, identified, kept, and discarded. It's certainly a personal quest individual to each athlete, and the to-dos on the list don't reinvent the wheel, but the possibilities are vast and the search for exact solutions can be over-whelming.
As an example, here is everything I did during my (truly off) off-season, which was abnormally long and lasted from mid-October to just before Thanksgiving, and my subsequent return to training:
** Picked the brain of a sports nutritionist. Then followed up a gazillion times. And then asked if he would simply live with, and cook for, me.
** Got health insurance. An expensive luxury now that I don't work in an office. Does this make me part of the 1%?
** Had in-depth physical(s), with lots ($800 worth!) of blood work. To quote my PCP: "Most of the things that could be wrong with you, I can't see." A truism for most athletes, pro or AG.
** Annual bike maintenance, which is more in-depth than the maintenance I do or I have the shop do at any another point during the rest of the year. I learned my lesson earlier this year and would prefer to avoid that debacle in the future.
** Over-hauled my position on the bike. My previous fit was still about 90% correct, but that 10% turned me into a pretzel in Cedar Point.
** Shortened my cranks. This required sending my entire crank arm-chain ring-powermeter set-up back to SRM, so I had the battery on my powermeter replaced as well.
** Tested(/ing) other racing kit manufacturers. Winter trainer riding is the best time to try new shorts/chamoix: you will never be more uncomfortable than you are on the trainer because you never change position. Plus you can take off really offensive shorts without the downside of being naked by the side of the road.
** Tested(/ing) new bike shoes, new running shoes, and new aero-bar extensions. If it ain't bolted down, super-glued on, or zip-tied together, or even looked at me wrong, it's fair game. It's not that "My Preferred Equipment" was no longer preferred by me, but instead that I wanted to make sure they still should be My Preferred Equipment.
** Bought an up-dated GPS for running. It told me I'm in Texas. Wha?
** Got a new coach. And he didn't prescribe any of the previous items (although he would have if I had not already initiated some of them).
Just about the only things that were safe were my powermeter, sports bras, socks, orthotics, swim gear, and saddle.
Again, these are all personal choices or needs, but I don't mind sharing them with you because none off them are the silver bullet. Changing my powermeter battery isn't going to make me a world champion, but together these action items add up to better training and better performance. They need to get done, so they get done, no matter the money, time, effort, stress...or blood and needles (gah!), involved. For me, it's part of the job, and for everyone, it's part of the sport. And excuse me for thinking it's part of the fun of the sport. Yeah, I'm also one of the people who likes Christmas shopping. So shoot me.