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!

 

A Week of Workouts: Training After 5 Straight Tournaments

After arriving home in NYC last Saturday, I was more than ready for both a bit of rest, but also some hard training. Competing and traveling is exhausting, and more often than not, I return home feeling a little less fit than before. I took Saturday off as a travel day, and Sunday as a rest day as well. My back was still hurting from an injury I sustained in Calgary (turns out playing two more tournaments injured doesn’t help!), so I planned to focus on off-court strength and conditioning, and try to limit my on-court training.

(I didn’t include any on-court/off-court coaching in the list below)

Monday

AM: 60 min squash with Tarun. We mostly did games and some pressure drills. I had a pretty hard time moving to the front, thanks to my back.

PM: Modified strength workout at Body Space, followed by a 20 minute steady state treadmill run. My back felt much better during and after the workout, compared to squash in the morning.

Tuesday

AM: 60 min squash with Will. This session was very similar in quality to yesterday- slow and flat. It didn’t help that I slept really poorly Monday night (I woke up at 3:15 am and couldn’t get back to sleep). After discussing with Will, he agreed it would be best for me to take a few days off from on-court training completely, to let both my mind and my back recover.

PM: Given my restless night, I wasn’t feeling up to any sort of workout, but managed to get myself moving for a medium intensity circuit workout. I felt 100 times better afterwards!

Wednesday

AM: 45 minute spin at Flywheel. Thanks to my self-imposed cardio pledge and 3 classes that are about to expire, I signed up for a 10:30 am spin class. It was the first class I’d taken in a while, (and a new instructor) and it felt pretty good!

PM: League match for NY Pro league. I played Reyna Pacheco, and we played 3 good games. My back and movement felt better than the previous week!

Thursday

AM: Another 45 minute spin class, this time with master instructor, Kate Hickl! It was really tough, and she made us crank up the resistance more than the day instructor the day before. I couldn’t help but compare myself to some of the other riders on the Torq board, but tried to just let it go. I get enough competition in my day-to-day life!

PM: Lifting session at Body Space. My body felt much better than Monday’s lift, and I was able to do a lot of movements without pain or restrictions. Such a relief! Still, I had a physical therapy session scheduled at BASE, so I got Shawn, one of the therapists to check out my back. He worked on it, and also gave me some mobility drills to do, mostly for my upper back.

Friday

AM: Had a slow morning, blogging, responding to emails, etc. It was much needed!

PM: Around 2 pm I went to Body Space for a workout. Fran put me through a power/agility/speed cardio circuit, which I posted on Instagram. I wrapped it up with some Air Dyne intervals and core work. It was nice to only do one workout Friday. I’d pushed hard the couple days before, and wanted to be able to finish strong on Saturday!

Saturday

AM: The morning started out with 45 minutes of squash with Tarun at 11:30 am. We did pressure sessions interspersed with normal games to 7. After a short break, Will, Tarun, and I put a couple spin bikes together at the PCNY’s “studio” and I put on a Sufferfest cycling training video for us to follow. More on this later, but in high school and throughout college I would follow these online cycling videos for cross-training, and I cannot emphasize how punishing they are. It is called sufferfest for a reason!

PM: Although my legs were tired from the morning, I met up with Fran at Body Space around 3:30 pm to do some more off-court work. We were both pretty shot, and ended up doing a “movement” day. I ended up programming the workout, and included some sled work as well as sandbags. After about 40 minutes of focused but fatigued training, we called it quits.

All in all I’d say it was a pretty successful week. I trained really hard but didn’t experience any low-HRV days, which I found to be remarkable!

 

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! 😀

 

Things I Do At Home

Hello hello!

How was your weekend? Mine absolutely flew by. I guess that’s what happens when you spend your winter break days training and watching The Mindy Project, instead of going to class! This post was supposed to be finished and published on Friday, but a few things got in the way (like a funeral), so say hello to Monday Favourites!

Friday Monday Favourites

  • Hanging Out in PJ’s

Thursday I didn’t have to be out of the house until 3 pm, which meant one thing: PJ Day! 

IMG_5796Despite my comfy clothes, I managed to get some work done for school (thankfully).

  • Making Breakfast Cookies (every night)

My mom really likes the protein bars I make, and so I have been making batches for her to put in the freezer for future times when I’m not here. The only problem is that my dad and I are eating them while we’re home as well!

IMG_5793This means that I am basically making a new batch every night… not that I’m complaining. I love doing it 🙂 .

Remember this summer when I procrastinated my thesis by reading Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling? Right, not good. Plus, remember about 2 months ago when I locked myself in a cave (metaphorically), and killed 4 seasons of Prison Break in a month?

is everyone hangin outOh, the glory days. Well, combine those two obsessions (Mindy + TV), and you get a very, very dangerous combination. After having loved her book, I knew that I had to check out her show, The Mindy Project when I discovered it on Netflix.

the-mindy-projectThe verdict?

I. Loved. It. In fact, I have barely been able to get any work done because I became so addicted to the show! Thankfully, I finished it Saturday afternoon, so my productivity level has since gone up slightly.

Except- uh oh. I just found out that there is a third season, which is currently going on. There goes the rest of my Monday and Tuesday break.

  • Training at Home

Theres a reason I love squash as much as I do, and I am reminded of it every time I come home: the people. The squash community in general is pretty small and close, but especially our little group here in Victoria. Throughout part of middle school, and all of high school, every afternoon was spent at the squash club. It has definitely become a second home for me, and the members are like family 🙂 .

I also love running my familiar routes and trails, particularly Elk Lake. Yesterday I caught a break in the rain, and managed to run the 10 k loop around 2 pm.

IMG_5813Speaking of training, I’m about to go off and do a Sufferfest session with Ken, followed by a squash match later this afternoon!

Hope your holidays are going well, and if you’re not quite off of work yet, I hope these next few days go by speedy-fast!

Questions:

Have you seen The Mindy Project? Do you get addicted to TV shows easily?

When’s the last time you hung out in PJ’s?