Welcome to the Off Season
This is the time of the year for all good triathletes to take a much needed break from the normal demands of triathlon specific training.
I like to think of the Off Season as the “Getting Ready for a Great Season” phase of triathlon training. The Off Season starts with a detailed review of what happened last racing season. The good things, the bad things, things you will try to do again this season and things you hope you never do again!!! This is the time of the year that you start planning the races you want to do next year. You start making your goals for next racing season. It can be a REALLY exciting time. But before you get all excited and lose focus, let’s look at what we really must accomplish during the Off Season so that we can look forward to an Outstanding Racing Season.
#1 Rest – Recover – Re-Energize
The Off Season needs to be a time to let your body recover from all the abuse you have put it through for the last several months. This does NOT mean stop working out for 2 months and sit on the couch watching TV. This is a time to back off your normal training routine, get more sleep and allow your body to start really wanting to train again. Pay attention here: this especially does NOT mean to let your least favorite (Hear Me Say “WORST”) discipline in triathlon slide off the radar screen for a number of months. I had a potential athlete contact me about helping them with their swim. They said they were a competitive age group triathlete and had a chance to qualify for Kona if their swim was better. I asked them a few questions about their swimming training and learned that they had not swam since their last race – 3 months ago. In most cases it does not matter how fast your other 2 disciplines are, if you take a number of months off your weakest event, it will continue to be your weakest and it will keep you from being as competitive as you want to be.
OK, that’s enough about what NOT to do. What you SHOULD be doing in the Off Season is getting yourself in the best possible physical, mental and emotional shape you can to start the season. Try to establish a routine as soon as possible so you can get your body used to working out and being on a schedule. Practicing this consistency will pay huge dividends when the training gets tough. You don’t need to be doing the volume of training you will be doing during the season, but you will need to be focused on building a solid foundation of fitness to build on when the time comes.
#2 Work on Weaknesses and Limiters
Use the Off Season to focus some time and attention to your weakest discipline. That means if swimming is your weakness, do more swimming, get a swim coach, swim with a masters team, do something to increase your fitness. If you notice that you are stronger during the first half of the race and then the wheels start to come off during the later stages of the race, starting a strength training program in the off season will pay big dividends. You need to be able to honestly assess your racing strengths and weaknesses and be willing to reallocate your training time to appropriately match your needs during the Off Season. Please note that if you have been injured during the year in one phase of your training this is the time to let those injuries completely heal and rebuild your base fitness in a slow and conservative manner. Now is not the time to rush back and try to get back to where you think you should be….in this case PATIENCE really is a VIRTUE.
#3 Consistency is KING
Following a well thought out, properly structured training plan will help keep you focused for the long haul of triathlon training.
Outstanding Triathletes are not built in a day, week or month and not even a year.
It takes time and dedication to become the triathlete that you want to be. The basic building block of that structure is CONSISTENCY. If you are not training in a systematic building and recovering method you are missing the opportunity to build your fitness to the highest possible level. You can only grow from the training you receive if your body is able to accept it. Start off slow and steady and build into your training routine. Resist the urge to go crazy and train 7 days per week when you have only been able to train 3 days per week during the prior season. Start off with a
doable training plan and use the off season to tweak the plan so when the season really gets going you are ready for all the possible bumps in the road.
I have found that keeping things simple and not getting caught up in the excitement and drama of training for triathlon makes the process so much more enjoyable and the results much more rewarding. If you can implement these simple strategies during YOUR off season, I am sure that your next racing season will be an enjoyable experience.