Things to Work on this 2018 Offseason

This season was jam-packed. From September to May, think I played 17 tournaments! While there were mental and physical ups and downs, I held up okay, and felt better at nationals in May than last year. I am hopefully that next season I won’t have to play as many tournaments, and that I’ll have a chance to take a midseason break at some point. This will allow me to reset both physically and mentally, and have a strong second half of the season. Traveling and competing is hard on the body, and I didn’t realize the value of rest and proper training until I hurt my back in March.

I am now about two and a half weeks into my off-season training. After nationals ended at the beginning of May, I took two weeks to do whatever I wanted training-wise. When I was home, this included mostly hiking, biking, some running, and lifting. I also got on court a couple times to play doubles and lives, which was fun, mainly because of the hitting partners. For the relatively small number of courts in Victoria, we have a pretty active membership, and it was great to have some of the hometown crew back together.

I’m currently on the 3rd week of my first phase of off season training, which will carry me through to the end of June. It’s focusing on improving my VO2 max using mainly treadmill intervals (anywhere from 1 to 5 minutes), and strength workouts (8 reps). In this phase, there are 3 conditioning days and 2 strength days, which gives me one day to do something different, like take a class, play squash, or take a rest day. So far I’ve used my “extra” day to play squash (once), take the Kettlebell and Core class at Body Space, and take a day off to go to Princeton Reunions (trust me when I say I needed the rest day…!). The Kettlebell and Core class at Body Space has been really great, as it has challenged me to integrate both cardio and strength with difficult movements. Plus, group exercise always adds to the intensity and motivation of the class.

So far, I’ve been sticking with the 5-day program, and have added extra workouts in only if I have the energy and motivation. As an athlete who typically workouts out 2x/day 6 days/week, I can’t stress how nice it’s been to only have to work out once a day. I love training, but I’ve been enjoying a more relaxed approach to my schedule, which has been kind on my body and also on my brain!

As the summer goes on, the program will change accordingly and some aspects will eventually become more squash specific. As for now, I’m trying to increase my VO2 max (i.e. get my cardio up to “speed” with my legs…) so that it’ll hold up when I integrate shorter, harder intervals with less rest… like squash!

After nationals, I immediately wrote down a few areas I need to work on this offseason. These “goals” may change a bit, but in bullet point form, this is what really stuck out to me after my final tournament. I’ve since chatted with a couple of coaches, and while I will integrate their thoughts into the program, I haven’t listed them below.

2018 Offseason Areas of Improvement

Squash

  • Improve backhand and backhand corner
  • Improve movement all around the court. Especially, work on being quicker and keeping my space from the ball.
  • Quick and efficient racquet prep

Fitness

  • More ghosting and squash specific, on-court fitness
  • Integrate consistent pressure sessions. I used to do this all the time in juniors and college, and found it really helped at the end of long games and tough rallies.
  • Build strength in tough positions (ie lunges…)

Mental

  • Meditate consistently. I started this last summer, and it helped in all areas of my life, including work, relationships, and how I interacted with my surroundings (mainly crazy people of New York!).
  • Read. I’ve just finished reading one of my new favourite books- How Bad Do You Want It, by Matt Fitzgerald. I honestly couldn’t put the book down, and found myself writing down important takeaways as I read. Reading a physical book (as opposed to online articles or Kindle app type books) is calming, and I feel that I get more out of the text.

Those are just the main points which stuck out in my mind after the long season. Although I’m starting to plan and think about on-court training, I’m not quite ready to get back into full squash mode, and am going to approach my re-introduction to on-court training with a relaxed mindset.

Alright, that’s all from me! I’ll be back soon, hopefully with some day-in-the-life posts and perhaps a recap of How Bad Do You Want It. Oh, and I almost forgot- I’m going to Bermuda this weekend for an exhibition (!!!), so I’m sure there will be a few things to say (or pictures to post) about that trip!

 

How to Get Out of Zombie-Mode

I need to preface this post by mentioning that this has nothing to do with that dumb movie, Zombieland (sorry to those of you that like that “comedy”).

Zombieland-poster

But I’ll get to that soon- let’s start with a recap from last night’s dinner, cause it was go.o.o.o.o.d.

Dinner

After squash training last night, Nabilla and I went to celebrate the end of her Ramadan fast at one of her favourite restaurants, Audrey Claire. Thank goodness we had a reservation, because even at 8:30 when we got there, the restaurant was packed. Clearly this place is a Philly fave!

I had had a hard workout day, and Nabilla had been fasting for a month, so it goes without saying that we were famished by the time we sat down to eat. Along with an entire jug of water (we were also parched), our server brought over a basket of bread with olive oil.

Image 1To be honest, the bread wasn’t great, although I must admit that I’m not a huge bread lover, and am therefore quite picky when it comes to this staple food.

Half the battle of ordering was not only deciding what to get, but how much. We couldn’t decide between two of the smaller dishes (after having narrowed it down from about six), so we settled on both!

One was a grilled octopus salad, with extra virgin olive oil and lemon over greens. There were also a number of other vegetables, such as tomatoes and cucumbers, mixed in which made this salad a little more substantial.

Image 2The other dish was baby arugula salad with candied figs, fresh strawberries, french lentils, and warm goat cheese. Although I thought both salads were great, this one was by far my favourite.

Image 3The dressing was sweet, which went nicely with the figs, and counterbalanced the sharper taste of the goat cheese. I absolutely adore goat cheese, especially when it has been warmed or melted. It’s such a simple thing to do, but I never think to try it at home!

As an entree, Nabilla and I split the grilled Branzino, served with roasted vegetables.

Image 4The lighting in the restaurant was abysmal, so you’ll have to excuse this sub-par picture. The fish was tasty, however I wish it had been filleted for us. The roasted vegetables were hands-down my favourite part of this dish, and I probably could have eaten 6 times the amount they gave us!

For dessert we headed out to Yogorino, a nearby deluxe frozen yogurt shop. Yogorino is different from most other fro yo places, since they only have 1 flavour of yogurt, better quality toppings, and it’s not self-serve.

I ordered a mini-size cone (which was still pretty big!) topped with white chocolate sauce, milk chocolate hazelnut sauce, and almonds.

Image 5
The grade A quality photographs continue…

Nabilla ordered a small, with sweet pistachio sauce. I had originally considered getting the pistachio flavour, but the green colour freaked me out a little for some reason. I know pistachio nuts are green, and I love ’em almost as much as other nuts, but the colour just reminded me of mexican green salsa. Naaahhh.

Image 8

Breakfast

Would you think I was crazy if I said that I enjoyed my breakfast even more than my frozen yogurt from last night? Because it’s true.

I made myself vanilla protein cheesecake pudding by combining 2% Greek yogurt with a scoop of Vega vanilla protein powder and a little light coconut milk to help mixing.

Image 9I also added in some cold steel-cut oats that I had soaked in water overnight, a little GoLean Crunch, a frozen banana, and some peanut butter. I really loved the addition of the cold oats since they gave the pudding a little extra chewiness, as well as the crunch of the GoLean cereal!

Workout: From Zombie-Girl to Happy-Girl

This morning was strange. I went to sleep last night feeling like a zombie, hoping that when I woke up this morning I would feel awake and energized after a good night’s rest. Instead, I woke up feeling tired and hungry, and unable to go back to sleep. After eating breakfast I considered going back to sleep, but decided against it, as I’m pretty opposed to naps in the morning (unless I’m sick).

Last night I had signed up for a 12:30 pm spin at Body Cycle, and as noon approached, I was feeling less and less motivated to go. My quad was still sore from yesterday (although not too bad), my head was in a bit of a fog, and I really just wanted to sit on the floor in my PJ’s and eat almond butter and crackers. However, I knew that if I didn’t go I would get charged $10, and that was motivation enough to get me moving and out the door.

Image 15
…can’t…get…up…

On my walk down to the studio, I still wasn’t feeling like myself, but I kept telling myself that the point of this spin was not to be a crazy hard workout, but rather to re-energize myself.

And you know what? After 10 minutes on the bike, I felt my lethargic feelings melt away, and by the end of the class I had sweated them out completely! Going into the class with the mentality that I didn’t have to destroy myself for 45 minutes, took a lot of the pressure off the workout, and I was able to enjoy it. And when I say enjoy it, I don’t mean “appreciate that I got my butt kicked”, I actually felt happy and motivated the whole time.

Although I experience the “workout high” nearly every time I exercise, I was overcome by surprise by today’s spin. Here are a few of the changes- small and big- that I felt after:

  • I went from feeling like an unmotivated zombie, to a happy, energetic girl.
  • On the walk down, nothing on Spotify seemed interesting, and on the walk back, I happily listened to the most random, strangest music.
  • I felt heavy while walking down to the studio, and light on the way back.
  • Instead of craving almond butter and crackers, all I wanted was vegetables for lunch.
  • Knowing that I had forms to fill out, reading to do, and people to email no longer seemed like yawn-worthy tasks. (Okay, maybe a little bit, but I was in much more of a mindset to tackle them now).
  • I no longer wanted to go back to bed and nap.
  • My body went from feeling tight and stressed to loose and relaxed.
Feelin' good with my fave post workout treat!
Feelin’ good with my fave post workout treat!

All in all, I felt a lot better about myself after the spin! So, next time it’s not your rest-day, and you’re feeling  unmotivated to work out, try going to a low-impact exercise class with no expectations, and have fun! Working out doesn’t always have to be about pushing yourself 100%, sometimes it’s nice to back off and just enjoy the ride 🙂