December 14, 2013

Yearly Training Cycle

I was 12 when I sat in the lecture hall at Murray State University listening to cross-country (running) coach Pablo Sanchez talk about how you should plan out your yearly running roadmap.  He drew out a months-of-the-year vs training intensity graph, with a line that went up and down in small cycles through the year, but generally up, until it peaked in November - nationals - and then bottomed out.  


I was 25 when my CrossFit trainer pulled my friend Jake aside to tell him that 7 days a week of 1 or 2 CrossFit workouts a day for so long was unsustainable, and that he was going to need to learn to moderate his schedule, take breaks or she was going to start writing an easier "Jake" workout on the board every day next to the regular class workout if he refused to start training smarter.

And now I'm 26 and giving Connor a real vacation for the first time ever, and maybe I am applying confirmation bias here, but that's okay.  Even if you're not at the top levels of your sport, no one can sustain the same level of training intensity year-round.  In sports, I found that the rhythm of the school year and sports seasons kept that in check for me before, but as an adult, it's up to me to know when to back off and when to push harder - and to manage that, like Coach Pablo said, on a yearly schedule.  Some adults understand that, and some, like Jake, think that you're wimping out if you're not training toward your goal all day, every day.

On the one hand, I feel bad for not being able to ride so much this month.  Am I throwing away all the hard work we did before?  Is he mature enough to retain all that?  Am I going to remember all those body position things we changed?

On the other hand, I know he's happy, warm, and hasn't been asked to do anything serious for a while, even when I have ridden.  I know how good for my brain having a week off work is, so it must be good for his too.

I'm going to get my blogs written, my saddle pads washed, my house clean, next year's schedule settled, and go to my 1pm lesson....

Red star is me, black star is where Connor lives.  Various colors: all snow.

...or maybe not.


  1. Amen sista. I'm giving my guy down time, too. Horses don't forget and it's good for their body and mind to have a rest. :)

  2. I totally agree! Pony love him relaxed days and spa days. There is usually a month at the end of show season where he has a ton more off days and when I do actually ride him its bareback, bridleless, trail riding easy stuff. I love dressage and eventing but I myself cannot drill in the arena everyday either!

  3. Yes, yes, yes! I can be a pretty hard worker and tend to dive full-on into things, and part of the reason that I'm glad I live where I do is that I don't have the option to do competitive horse sports (in the disciplines that interest me) year-round. I really love seasons in part for the rhythm and shape that it gives to the year.

    It is hard to dial back on the things that you love, and I do think the problem of how-do-I-get-better-without-burning-out-myself-or-my-horse is a valid one, especially for folk with really big dreams and really good work ethics. Good argument for owning multiple horses!

  4. Horses are athletes and need downtime to recuperate, just like us humans. He won't forget anything in his downtime, he's a smart guy!

  5. I certainly noticed a change in attitude after Oliver's 2 month break when we were moving to TX. A greater willingness and eagerness to do his job again.

  6. Same here. The little dude is taking some time off. He probably needs it just to let his whole body rest and reset. I'm hoping to get a few rides here and there for the rest of this month and January, but the weather is bad, I have no indoor, and the break can only help him.

  7. Agreed, I think the more people work out or train themselves then they can also learn how to do schedules for their horses.