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Did you say off-season?

The off-season is the time between the end of one racing season and the start of the next.

Some athletes determine when the off-season begins and ends based on their last race of the year and their preparation for the first race of the following year. Others use temperature as a guide, deciding to scale back their training or take a break when it gets colder.

Regardless of how you define it, the off-season can be a challenging time for athletes, who may worry about how to stay fit and how to fill their extra free time. One solution is to try a new activity, such as mountain biking or trail running.

This year, I decided to give trail running a try. At first, I thought it wouldn't be much different from my usual road running, but I quickly realised I was wrong.

First, the equipment is different - a pair of shoes with good grip is essential, and a light backpack to carry water, energy bars, and extra clothes can be helpful, especially when running in the countryside. Staying hydrated and fueled is important in any sport, and trail running is no exception.

Second, it's easy to do laps in a local park, but that's not an option when running on trails. I spent a lot of time finding trails, creating GPX tracks to upload to my watch, and trying to follow the correct route. Even when you have a track ready to go, it can be a challenge to find it on site, as GPS isn't always precise and tracks may not be exactly where you expect them to be. It takes practice to feel comfortable navigating trails.

Finally, once you're out there, you have to deal with muddy tracks, loose stones, roots, and other obstacles, as well as constant changes in elevation. Sometimes the uphill sections can be very long, requiring new pacing strategies to avoid going too hard and blowing up. In those cases, I found that using power instead of heart rate was helpful.

Overall, trail running was not only fun, but it also helped me develop new skills that I can apply to my training and coaching.

Keeping the Off Season busy is the best way to prepare for the next season!

And on that note, Happy New Year to all readers and a successful 2023 season!

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