If you've ever felt a big lull or let-down after a big event, you understand there is an ebb and flow to the competitive life cycle. You've spent so much energy preparing that you can feel very wiped out, emotionally and physically.
Planning your dog's recovery as well as your own from a major event is just as important as planning to peak for the event.
There is a sport science called periodization, and it has to do with planning to peak for major events, as well as how to progress training at the most efficient level to maximize improvement while preventing injuries and burn-out.
Burn-out and injury is a very real concern for athletes (both human and dog), particularly when there isn't a really defined off-season, which in agility doesn't exist because there are major events year round, so you have to create one. You have to pick and choose which events you will focus on, so you can also plan your rest periods.
Part of the process is the rest and recovery phase. The amount of time you take-off depends on where you are at in the competitive cycle or season. You can really only peak twice, three times a year at most. Generally you would take time off after each event, the most time off after the biggest major event on your competitive calendar.
There are physical, mental, and technical aspects to taking a rest, which apply to not only your annual competitive calendar, but also your weekly and monthly schedule. Sometimes you don't have time for a full break, but you can do things for you and your dog like:
It is harder to stay at the top than it is to get there in the first place, believe it or not. The sustained effort and the careful planning required to maintain an extremely high level of performance is a monumental task.
Most people can make one big burst to get to a certain level, but they often exhaust themselves in the process. Those who stay at the top truly understand the need for rest and recovery. Make sure to build it into your training plan.
It's as important as practice, and sets you up for your next peak to be higher than the last.
If you'd like to learn more about training plans, peaking, and periodization, check out my 90 Days to Nationals course. Even if you aren't planning on attending a big event, you'll learn all about building great training progressions and preventing injury. Find out more here: 90 Days to Nationals
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