Most people organize their year chronologically from January to December, with some benchmarks like birthdays, holidays, etc, and seasons refer to changes in the weather.
Our year runs on a training calendar and seasons have some very different meanings. "Race season" is the most critical time of year, then there's pre-season and post-season. Roughly, that mean January through spring is pre-season, late-spring and summer make up race season, and post-season is fall till the end of the year.
Each season requires something different as far as training and exercising goes. Pre-season is where we start build milage to make sure we're ready for racing. This is when we spend a lot of time on our bikes, running, and swimming to build endurance.
Of course, race season focuses on being in tip top shape for races. Just enough training and resting to keep our body fresh enough for the races, without falling out of shape, but without overdoing it to make us tired or burnt out for racing, making sure to not get injured, and building for our A races (or most important races) wherever those fall in the season. This is also when we try to get to our lowest weight of the year, dropping any extra weight, even some muscle mass, to allow us to carry the least amount of weight through all those long race miles. Race season training usually involves several "training races" designed to help prepare us for our A race. For example, last summer we did a half marathon in July to assure us that we'd be ready for the half marathon that we'd be running at the end of the 70.3 in September.
And now it's post-season. My favorite part of post-season is the first 3-4 weeks, which is when I take a break! This year, that meant after my last bike race at the end of September, I got to relax! I told myself, I will only do what I feel like doing. If that's doing absolutely nothing, fine! If I want to go for a bike ride for fun, sure. If I feel like swimming, go for it. If running sounds nice, perfect. But, nothing is forced, and there's no guilt! My break even culminated in a week long vacation to San Diego (maybe that deserves a post of its own...) where the only exercise I did was walking around Sea World and the San Diego Zoo. (There was one run on the beach, per Tyler's request.)
After that nice break, it was time to get into post-season training. For me, this is a time to work on technique, such as with swimming. My friend, Suzy, is a great swim coach, and instead of swimming for distance, I'm mainly doing drills to perfect my stroke and make me more efficient in the water. It's also a time to build muscle, so that I am strong when the milage does increase, which will help prevent injuries as we get closer to race season, and will give me the strength I need, even when I start dropping some of that mass. Lastly, I use this time to do whatever needs to be done to prepare me to be safe for race season, which this year, means taking a real break from running.
As you know, my feet, specifically my arches, and right big toe were injured most of last season, making training miserable. It's really frustrating to need to be ready to run 13 miles when running 2 miles kills! In fact, I hardly did any running during last race season, as every run seemed to make my toe hurt worse. Races were just run in faith that my foot would hold out and my cardio strength would carry me through the running. Since then, I've been kinda running on and off, taking a quick break, just long enough to make me assume I was healed, then starting slowly again. Which usually turns into me thinking that I'm really healed, getting overly excited, going for a longer run, eventually feeling the same old pain creep back in, and realizing it was too soon, and starting the process all over again. The last time this cycle occurred, Tyler forced me to face reality when he told me I would never heal if I kept this up and I'd end up having another race season like the one I just had. I can not let that happen again, it was horrible! He told me it was time for a real break, and that it would be better to take a real break now, get healed up for real, then start fresh with no injuries. After some arguing, and working through all the stages of grief, I finally made it to acceptance, and I haven't run since. It's tough, and I worry that I'll be a weak runner next season, but nothing is worse than dealing with chronic injuries!
So, since running is off the table, my time is spent swimming, weight lifting, and biking. Especially biking! You see, things are getting thrown off a little this year. For the first time, we are on an official bike race team, SBR Cycling, to be precise. And bike race season starts in the warmer climates of St. George and Arizona in January, and stretches all the way into September! That's one heck of a race season! So as far as cycling training goes, things have to get bumped up a little. We're already in pre-season frame of mind, with trying to both build muscle and build some milage. In fact, today we did a 70 mile ride. Our first race is less than 100 days away, so it's time to get focused.
In summary, the post-season break was great. The loss of running has been accepted, and now I spend 20 minutes everyday doing foot strengthening exercises, and massaging and icing the bottom of my foot. My swimming technique is getting better thanks to weekly swim lessons with Suzy. Hitting the gym 4 times a week is a must. And biking, biking, and biking as long as it's warm enough to ride outside, then we bring it indoors with spin classes and the bike stationary trainer. Ah, I do enjoy how the seasons change...