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!

 

July Happenings

Happy Monday, and hello from sunny Victoria, B.C!

I got home late Friday night and have been busy biking, playing squash, and spending time with family since the moment I arrived! The weather is so beautiful right now, it’s hard not to want to go bike, run, and walk outside. I actually have to restrict myself from spending too much time outside, or I’m worried I will get too worn out to do my actual training.

Saturday

I had the best first morning back I could have asked for. I biked to the squash club, taught the spin class, played squash with Giselle, and then biked home!

Heart rate summary for all of the training. I kept it on the Indoor Cycling setting so it wouldn’t use up data.

It was a bit of a marathon, and I loved it! I was especially surprised at how good I felt despite only 5 hours of sleep… Also, check out that calorie count… nearly 1700 calories- whaaaaat?!?!

Sunday

Yesterday started out on an active note as well!

My cycling mentor, Ken, has been riding at the Velodrome for a couple of months now, and insisted that I try it out. There are some very important rules and also skills to be learned (mostly for safety but also etiquette), so I participated in a 2-hour Intro to Track Riding class to get hold of the basics.

Took this picture once we were about to leave, which is why I don’t have a helmet or cycling shoes on…

The bike was the first thing to get used to. It’s even twitchier than a normal road bike, and doesn’t have any breaks or gears. To stop, you simply pedal slowly and eventually come “down track” to clip out of your cleats and get off the bike. To go faster, you increase your cadence!

In the two hour lesson, I learned:

  • how to get on and off the bike
  • what all the different lines on the track mean
  • …and how/why to ride along which lines
  • to yell “STICK!” when passing a rider
  • how to accelerate down the bank

I couldn’t get the hang of riding in the drops (the low handlebars) or riding out of the saddle, so that will have to wait until next time. Still, it was a great first time out on the track, and I’m really glad I went!

Breaking out the cycling gear!

I got home from the Velodrome around noon, and after hovering down some lunch, was quickly out the door about 30 minutes later to play squash with Gavin and Rob. The ball was really bouncy, and I had difficulty holding my own out there, but had fun nevertheless.

Lunch! Slightly crispy egg + egg white omelette with broccoli, squash, and parmesan. Plus a (sadly) rotten avocado on the side which I didn’t eat.

On the way home, I stopped by my grandparents’ house to say hi and catch up for a bit. I’m sure I’ll be back around to see them soon!

Catching Up…

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, so today’s write-up is going to be a bit of a hodgepodge as I recount events from the past month and a half or so.

Being Sick

I’m pretty convinced that almost everything happens for a reason. As I talked about in my earlier posts, I needed a break from squash once the season ended. I had planned on “coming back” to squash around June 16th, which would have given me a solid 4-week break, but my body rebelled. Mentally, I still wasn’t quite ready to jump back on court, and my body seemed to know that. I was sick off and on for about a month (mid-June to mid-July), mostly with a pretty gross cough. I was able to work out for the better part of that month, because energy-wise, I felt okay, however, as soon as my body temperature increased, I would sound like I was hacking up a lung. After about a month of this, my body completely rebelled, and knocked me out with a fever for a couple of days, which forced me to take some medicine and rest. Only then did my cough begin to subside.

Snapshot from one of my Instagram stories. Track intervals are a love/hate thing!

Anyway, I know this isn’t the most exciting or lovely thing to write about, but being under the weather for so long certainly gave me an appreciation for my health, which can sometimes be taken for granted. I’m happy to report that I’m back to full-strength now, and am really enjoying my workouts and squash!

Off-Court Training

Although I was banned from the courts for a little over a month (okay, banned might be a strong word), I kept my off-court workouts strong. I used this as a chance to assess the weaknesses from this past season season and reset, in order to recover and build my base back up. Pushing through at least 2 workouts a day during the season definitely took a toll on me both physically and mentally. During this early off-season/reset phase, I enjoyed working out once a day, not worrying in the back of my mind if I was working hard enough to get ready for an upcoming tournament. I was able to re-appreciate exercise, without so much self-imposed “pressure”.

My workouts varied from track sessions, to strength sessions, to a mixture of both. I spent a lot of quality time on the sled, AlterG treadmill, and Air Dyne bike. I also spent a lot of time researching the training methods I wanted to include into my next phase of training, which would also transfer into my in-season regime. (There’s no way I can describe in depth the methods in a single post, but in case you’d like to check it out, go to www.8weeksout.com. Joel Jamieson, the founder of the site and Endzone Athletics, has a bunch of articles online that cover topics related to strength, conditioning, sports-specific training, and even nutrition).

Keto Diet (and food in general)

In early May, I sought professional help for my nutrition. I understand the principles of “healthy eating” just fine, however I didn’t feel that I was optimizing my performance. Sure, I wanted to lean out a bit, but I also wanted to feel and perform better.

A delicious and typical “keto” meal: Spinach w Olive oil and lemon dressing, avocado, and salmon.

My nutritionist recommended I try a keto-esque diet, where I would decrease my carbs (and calories) depending on the intensity of my training day. Within a week I lost about 6 pounds, which I’m convinced most of was water weight due to the minimal amount of carbs. However, based on the plan I was given, my calories were also decreased significantly compared to what I was used to, so this also helped me shed some weight. For the first 3 weeks or so, I felt amazing, with the exception of about two days where I felt like I’d “bonked”. I’ve since increased my calories (consistent 2x a day training on 1500-1800 calories is not possible for me…), but have remained pretty low carb. Sometimes I eat blueberries and dark chocolate :).

Volleyball

I joined a ZogSports beach volleyball league this summer with a couple clients/coworkers from Body Space and some of their friends. It’s been so much fun to get out and play a team sport, especially outdoors! Tanning + fun combined!

Oof! That was a lengthy catch up. Time to work get ready for a big training day today! 😀