One of the typical issues I face with my athletes this time of year, (off-season or pre-season), is a desire to do more, and train harder. Never mind that most of my athletes live in climates that make outdoor training rather cold and miserable, many still want to push hard, large volume, and be ready to race at their peak come the first race of the year.
I always ask in response, "If we train specifically and hard for your goal race right now, we'll see a plateau in about 12-16 weeks. Then what do we do?" Most don't know the answer to that question. They all know that plateaus can happen, but when you put it on the calendar and can pinpoint the time they will see it, it becomes clear that their plan likely won't work. They likely will reach a mental plateau as well, and by the end of the season when the most important races come, and everyone is looking to peak, those who trained at the highest level early in the year are hanging by a mental and physical string.
So instead, I push for the athletes to focus on their weaknesses during this time, with quality being high, and volume being low. This prepares athletes for the season, yet allows us to still have something to build on thru the year. We focus on individual metrics within each phase, trying to improve the skills and abilities that we can build in succession thru the season, to the key races.
So if you're training now like it's the middle of the season, what are you going to do when that plateaus?