The Meaning of Off Season Workouts
Updated: Jan 8
It’s Fall, the hardest time of the year to find motivation. The baked goods start smelling better, the clothes get thicker, and the days get shorter.
Here is a little thought I had the other day before a group training session that I coach.
To give some context, before every session I come up with some sort of question. Then everyone has to say their name and answer the question. The question is normally an icebreaker like “Come up with a paint color name” or “What is your favorite accent." This day, however, I was feeling a bit coachy and asked a Jimmy V question.
Jimmy V (Jim Valvano) was college basketball coach who won the Arther Ashe award back in 1993 and gave one of the greatest sports related speeches. One of the biggest takeaways for me from his speech was that to live a full day you need to laugh, cry, and think.
“Don’t ever give up”
So I asked, “What has made you either laugh, cry, or think today.”
As the coach of the session I always answer first, and I chose what made me think that day - which was the workout. It was not complicated, but it was a hard one. Why even do a hard workout when the current season is basically over and the first races of next season are months away? There are plenty of easy and fun workouts to do, we could focus on technique or play a game. What is the motivation for doing a hard workout now?
This made me think of my first marathon.
The Detroit International Marathon was the first I ever did, and it was a unique experience. I had been cycling for a few years, but not running, and a friend dared me to do it. Me being me, I accepted the challenge. I figured that I could ride for over 100 miles in a row, so I should be able to run for 26. In my training for the marathon I ran 2 times a week and never more than 3 miles.
So what happened? I finished the marathon, and I was disappointed - not in my time but my experience. The entire time, and even before I was training for the marathon, I heard stories about how amazing and satisfying it is to finish a marathon. I felt nothing, I was done and my feet were sore.
I realized that I did not feel anything because I did not work hard. I did the bare minimum in training and never came close to going hard in the race.
This brings me back to the question of what motivates me to do this hard workout today. The reason to do the hard workout is - to do the hard workout.
There is an intrinsic value to doing the workout as it is intended. During the season and in the lead-up to season, all the workouts any good coach writes have a specific meaning and purpose. This time of year, however, as long as I know a workout is not going to be detrimental, I will do/give hard workouts just for the satisfaction of completion. I find it is a good way to stay grounded in reality while being able to appreciate life.
Long story short, the reason to do the workout is to do it. We don't have to assign a greater meaning to an off-season workout. The sense of accomplishment comes from the completion.