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Sunday, September 23, 2018

Off-season Opens Doors

Mens sana in corpore sano (A healthy mind in a healthy body)

If you are like me, you spend so much time training in the spring and summer that when off-season arrives you don’t know what to do with those hours that are normally filled with sport. Especially on the weekends. Now you can have breakfast with the family… twice!

Although, I’m sure for most of us it doesn’t take much effort to find substitute activities… Cleaning out the garage? Organizing a year full of photos? Going to church?
St. Laurentius Catholic Church, Alteglofsheim

Church on Sunday is unfortunately one of the things that gets sacrificed from my calendar when I am in training, as there is almost always a long run on that day. But I miss it. And today I was back in the pews.

What is the purpose of off-season anyway? Why don’t we just race and train 12 months a year? As everyone knows the answer is simple: to give ourselves a chance to recover and regenerate.  Our bodies have been pounding the pavement (or in my case, trails) for months and we are no longer at that peak we hit for our A-race a while back and our performance is likely declining. This is normal, and a drastic reduction of miles along with a healthy dose of comfort food (putting on a couple of pounds would probably do you good), getting some much needed sleep (the end of Daylight Savings will help), and curling up on the couch with a good book are maybe just what the doctor ordered.

The spiritual side of Kundalini yoga
 helps me keep balance
Off-season should also include a switch to more regenerative activates like stretching and yoga, which will likely accelerate this healing process and get us back on track quicker. But is it just our bodies that need regeneration? I firmly believe in a whole-body balance that is just as dependent on a healthy mind and spirit as it is on a healthy body. Studies have even shown a link between religion/spirituality and psychological well-being. In fact, one of the most widely celebrated findings is that religion and spirituality are related to longer life*. So, also meditation, attending church services (or temple, synagogue, mosque, etc.), prayer, chanting, quiet reflection, or maybe even a long walk in the woods can provide that symbiosis, which our whole person requires but may be neglected when we are completely focused on our next race.

And then, after a time, when your body and spirit have mended, you can use that long walk to contemplate what to include in next season’s race schedule.

Post-script… I do have four more races this year, but all ‘just for fun’. J

*Religion, spirituality, and health: a review and update. Adv Mind Body Med. 2015;29(3):19-26.

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