by Ed Sealy
Now that I have your attention, you might be wondering why the sudden outburst Ed?
The reason is simple, I needed to get your attention, so that we could start to have a conversation about training. Specifically “the 4 seasons of training” and what that means for the 365 day a year CrossFit athlete.
First, let’s start by defining the term “athlete.” Good news… if you are reading this article, you ARE an athlete! The good folks over at Merriam-Webster define an athlete as “a person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports, or games requiring physical strength, agility, or stamina.”
That means every one of the members at CTF- from the 6 day a week person to the once in a while PT session person- is an athlete.
Why is that important?
Well, for a lot of reasons really, but for starters it means that we are all in here doing work trying to better ourselves in the games of fitness and life. It also means that we are susceptible to the big scary “I” word – injury!
The great news here is that at CTF we are fortunate enough to have a very low rate of significant injury, but what we do have is a lot of small nagging little pain in the ass injuries or as they are better known as, overuse injuries. (cue the looming doomsday music)
Now, don’t get me wrong, this is not a Pot and the Kettle moment. I’ll be the first to admit that I love to train 8 days a week. It’s often therapeutic and I also love the social aspect of our family and team, which is why I joined CTF in the first place. What I have come to realize over the past 2 years is how often I need to take a step back and reexamine my “Why.”
You see I don’t always sign up for events or competitions, or seminars, or tests or challenges. So when the programming is working towards prepping for an event or competition… say maybe the Open, what do you do when you aren’t the one competing
The answer there goes back to the age old CTF requirement of “knowing your why” and also understanding what it means to be a 4 season athlete. Took me long enough, but that’s what we are here for today: What are the 4 seasons and what the ever-loving F does it have to do with me? (ps.. if you are still here, thanks for holding on, I’m working on being less wordy, but as this sentence shows.. it’s far from my finest skill!)
Here is the Cliff Notes version of the 4 seasons of training: The National Strength and Conditioning Association refers to the term Periodization and- from the Redundancy Corporation of Redundancy- then breaks this term down into “Periodization Periods!” Seriously…
The four periods within are called the Preparatory Period, the First Transition Period, Competition Period, and Second Transition Period.
Now, we could and many have written plenty about the words in the last 2 sentences, but I want to break it down into something that makes sense in my brain. Seasons. So, let’s rename them then.
The Preparatory Period = The Off-Season
The First Transition Period = Pre-Season
Competition Period (this one actually makes sense) = In Season and All competitions
Second Transition Period = Post Season (the time immediately after playoffs) or Active Recovery
So, what does that all mean to us here at CTF?
Well, it’s actually simple. We as individuals need to look at our year and see if we can break it down into these 4 seasons and that could even break down into that cycle more than once a year. Why?
Because our programming, while it does work to specific events like The Open, or Fall league, doesn’t and can’t allow for all 4 seasons. We have to program for 6 days a week, 52 weeks a year, so that our athletes and visitors can get a badass workout every day that we are open.
The rub here is that even though we program extremely intelligently and scientifically at CTF, if you do not personally take the time for some self reflection and planning, you can end up just grinding away in the Competition Period all of the time, for your entire life and that’s where those little nagging over-use or over-training injuries come into play.
The ball is in your court, so to speak. If you are like me and occasionally find yourself breaking down with what seems like insignificant aches and pains, maybe the answer is overtraining. The good news is that the Post Season doesn’t mean that you have to take complete time off, it could just mean scaling back the intensity or load so that your recovery can be active and still get the awesomeness of time spent in the gym.
The second piece of good news is that we have a staff that cares about your goals more than what is written on the whiteboard each day, so if guidance is needed, there are all kinds of opportunities here for you.
While I’m in the boat with you and love to Compete Every Day, that doesn’t mean every day’s workout needs to be the Super Bowl… and that’s why it’s ok to calm the f*ck down!!
I’m going to scale my ass off the next 5 weeks and take extra days of rest while I play my way through the CrossFit Open. But while that is happening, I’m going to be looking to the time after, assessing what my body needs and what the next goal or “Competition Period” is going to look like for me and plan accordingly.
There are a lot of “seasons” left in this fitness lifestyle and I’m going to try my best to start maximizing them with some great planning and some well-timed rest and recovery. Who’s with me? Bring on the Open… and I can’t wait for MURPH!!
Stay awesome friends!