With the days growing shorter and the temperature dropping like a stone it is clear that winter is here. Winter provides a great opportunity to work on your weaknesses so that when summer rolls around you are better than ever. Everyone has something they can improve on and the first step to developing your weaknesses is to identify them.
I have found that an individual’s weakness is often the discipline or aspect of a discipline that they dislike the most. For example I don’t know how many times I have heard people say “I hate hills” or “I’m just not a runner”. Have a think about what aspect of your performance you struggle with the most or where you lose the most time in a race. If you are still having a problem identifying your weakness then some outside input is often a great help. People on the outside often see you differently to the way you perceive yourself, so ask someone you trust what they think your weaknesses are (you may be surprised). Once you have a list of what your weak points are you need to arrange them into an order of importance and decide where your time is best spent (this is where a coach comes in handy).
Once you have identified your weak discipline or aspect of your performance, strip it down and get back to basics. I think that early winter is a good time to focus on developing your technique, whether it is out on the water in your boat, on the local rugby field working on your running technique or in front of the mirror on the wind trainer. Technique is best developed using specific drills that progress over time with the goal of training your neuromuscular system into a new movement pattern and this takes time.
I suggest an intensive block of training (5-8 weeks) in the early winter where the focus is on developing technique in one or two disciplines. Other training at this stage can be maintained with some key sessions while you focus on your weakness. During this time technique drills should be carried out 2-4 times per week along with other neuromuscular training sessions and maintenance sessions.
The good thing about technique sessions is that they are relatively short. This is because for these sessions to be effective you have to be fresh. During the early stages of technique training the muscles and nervous pathways fatigue relatively quickly as they are unaccustomed to the new movement patterns. So, short regular training sessions are required for optimal benefit. Once you have developed a solid base technique you can start developing the endurance capacity of these newly found efficient movement patterns.
I know from living in Dunedin that it can be very hard to get motivated and get outside during the colder months. However the benefits of a specific development focus during the winter should help with this motivation. There are also plenty of good races around during the winter to keep the motivation high. Pick some races to do that focus on the single discipline or disciplines you have been developing over the winter and build toward that.
Another big motivator is to get a group of like minded training partners together. It is always easier to get up in the morning if you know someone else is going to meet you out on the water or give you grief if you don’t show up. Check out this blog post on Choosing the Perfect Training Partner.
So don’t just sit around waiting for the summer to arrive, get out the door and go meet it with a solid technique and endurance base and in doing so take your performance to a new level.
If you need help sharpening your technique and building your winter base in any of your disciplines get in contact with me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can tailor you a specific winter programme with the appropriate technique drills and sessions to suit your needs.