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Changing the focus of your training

Already we are raging against the dying of the light. Early September and here in California, while the autumn weather is better than at home, there is a strong sense in the air of change, of lengthening shadows and rapidly darkening days.

If you're an outdoor enthusiast, it's hard to say goodbye to summer. If you're doing the Dublin marathon, chances are that you're still in the thick of training, but for triathletes and open water swimmers the season is drawing to a close. It can be tempting to hibernate as the light goes and the bad weather rolls in and to ditch the outdoors for the occasional gym workout.

If your goal races are over for the season, autumn is a great time to change focus for your training. It's perfect timing for an off-season, to change focus from hard summer training at high volume and intensity. The worsening weather allows you to take the foot off the gas a bit, and recover from racing season without grinding to a full stop. It's ideal after your big race season to have about four to six weeks of recovery - not total rest, but fun, easy workouts, mixed up with cross-training, and this is perfect for autumn. Mixing in yoga, trail running, mountain biking or hiking is a great way to keep your fitness up. Sometimes during race season I get invites to do interesting outdoor adventures, like climbing mountains or trail running, and finally in the autumn I get to catch up on them.

If you're squeamish about the deteriorating weather, try and embrace it and get outside - it's been proven that training outdoors has psychological benefits that can't be replicated at the gym. So it's raining? Get some good training gear (rain jacket, good breathable leggings) and get out in it.

It's always hard to head out if it's raining - but sometimes it can be incredibly exhilarating to get out in the weather - I hate and yet love running down the promenade in Galway, into a gale-force headwind, with the sea throwing spray into my ear.

I squeezed the very last of the light out on the final evening bike ride of the season last week, rolling back to my car at dusk, squinting through a final brick run in the darkening twilight. It's back to the bike trainer for midweek rides - another few weeks until my final race and I get to spend some time crunching leaves for the off-season.

Health & Living