Fall is my absolute favorite time of year. The hot days of summer start to give way to cooler temperatures, the crowds begin to diminish and there is a little more urgency to get out there and get your workout in before darkness sneaks up on you. More importantly, though, it is definitely the “prime time” to take advantage of so many of the amazing training venues our area has to offer. For me, fall is all about getting back on the trails, and enjoying the beauty of the Sierra Nevada.
While I typically still have a few more races left at this time of the year, my training tends to transition, with most of the “important” races already in the books, and my focus really turns to getting out there, having fun, and making the most of my time before the snow comes. This year, things are a little bit different, as two of my most important races of the season — XTERRA National Championships and XTERRA World Championships — are still yet to come. But, my fall training philosophies won’t change much. For me, it’s still very much about getting out there and enjoying this incredible time of year and the unique training opportunities it has to offer.
It does work out very fortunately for me that my remaining races are XTERRA (off-road) triathlons. That’s because, in my opinion, this is the best time to enjoy both mountain biking and trail running in our area. It also works out in my favor, in terms of suiting my personal enjoyment, that I’m currently in a building phase, so I get to do a lot of high-volume training before entering another taper leading into my races. This essentially means that I get a lot of quality time out on the trails, and I couldn’t be happier about that. By the time September hits and our little town becomes “our own” again, I am ready to get the hard pavement-pounding intervals and crowded, hot hours on the road bike behind me, and hit the dirt.
I’ve had an incredible time these last few weeks on the trails, getting in some highly anticipated long trail runs, and spending time on my mountain bike just about everyday. With a race-intensive summer season — most of which revolves around the road — as well as a ton of travel, I just don’t get the same chances to really enjoy the Tahoe trails as I do in the fall. But this is my time to take it all in! I have been doing just that, and plan to continue to get as much time out there as I can before the snow flies.
I know there are two really important races ahead, and I am certainly still putting in some hard work before they arrive. But the cool thing about fall is that, most of the time, it doesn’t even really feel like that, because it is just so much fun to be out there, taking in the sights, sounds, scenery and smells that are so uniquely Tahoe. In just a few short weeks, I’ve already checked off several of my favorite mountain bike rides and distance trail runs, and I still have quite a bucket list for the weeks ahead that I cannot wait to tackle. And, while it is pretty much back into the wetsuit as the water gets colder, evening swims have been serene and beautiful, and I plan to get as many more of them in as I can before I have to get back in the pool for the winter.
It’s not uncommon to hear complaints about the “shoulder season,” as people seem to experience a lack of things to do with the changing weather, already sorely missing the long days of summer or impatiently awaiting snow. But I think there’s a whole different world of activities to be discovered here in the fall that truly can’t be experienced any other time of year in quite the same way. So, regardless of where you’re at in your training cycle, I encourage you to get out there, explore, discover, and make the very most of this incredible, too-short season. There are plenty of activities that are perfectly suited for rainy days and cooler temps. Get out there and give them a try! Check out a new trail, or two or three! Take it all in, and have some fun. The snow will be here before we know it, and it will be on to all-new adventures.
— Kara LaPoint is an elite amateur triathlete competing for LUNA bar, and working up to the pro ranks. She has earned numerous overall amateur podium finishes and age-group wins across distances from Olympic to Ironman, and finished the 2011 season ranked as an All-American nationally among her age group (25-29). Read more about her racing and training at www.karalapoint.wordpress.com. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.