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The Summer Slump
By Coach Jerry Jacobs

Almost every athlete that we coach has experienced some type of Summer Slump.
Often this is just an adjustment to heat and humidity.
Sometimes this slump is deeper and more problematic.
The effects of higher temps  can affect our performance, sometimes dramatically.
Often athletes believe they can produce the same power numbers as when
conditions are more favorable. Nope. Numbers will be lower. Sometimes that
means power targets are at the low end of targeted ranges. In more extreme
conditions, they may be lower than that.

Using good judgment, and utilizing "perceived effort” and HR as a secondary target,

should result in doing your harder work at numbers that you can handle.

Secondly, most athletes have been training hard for months now. They
have done many weeks of structured intervals and hard work. It is normal (even
expected) that numbers will plateau and even go somewhat backwards.
Racing demands will add to accumulated stress, both mentally and physically.
Often races will add more stress than can be seen in files. Some of this is just
the emotional energy of getting ready for races, traveling and pushing yourself to
your limits. There are only so many race days that any athlete can manage
before a period of resting and re-setting is required.

For most, the solution is just a one to two week period of largely unstructured
training. This does not need to be complete time off the bike. You can do some
intensity over this period, just not too much. Both volume and intensity should
come down. If you are not too deep into a hole, this should be enough to restore
your motivation for the last block of hard training this season.

For some, the slump is deeper. Motivation may be low. The demands of hard
races, many weeks of structured training combined with heat can take a big toll.
In these cases, a bigger reset is required. This means reduction in both volume
and intensity. This period should begin with a few days of complete rest (or
alternative activity) and then a period of largely unstructured work.

Importantly, many athletes will feel as if they will lose all their hard fought fitness.
They will not. A proper reset that is followed by just a few weeks of quality
work can bring athletes all the way back to peak fitness levels. The key is being
patient enough on the reset so that the quality work is really quality. Rushing
this process can just prolong and deepen the slump.

Another common mistake is trying to do too much as you return to hard training.
Adding a lot of extra volume in mid summer conditions does not work for most
athletes. It is much better to bring the quality back up, but keep the volume
lower as you prepare for later season peak events.

High motivation and sharpness will almost always trump higher volume for later
season events.

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