With this off-season, I’m doing things differently than the last several years. I typically take 2-4 months completely off, but as I’m ‘maturing,’ I’m finding it takes too long to get back into shape. Plus I can’t afford to gain 12-15lbs as that also takes too long to lose. That being said, the last couple years I’ve taken months off rather weeks due to various injuries. Thankfully, I don’t have anything to deter me from training right now. So, I only took about a week completely off this time, then started working out. Yes, working out, not training. The latter means having a well thought out plan with a purpose/goal(s). Working out is doing what you want when you want without having it be a means to a race goal. Both are good things for different reasons and for the time being, I need to chill and not be regimented in every swim, bike, or run. I do them each when I want and am only putting in less than half the hours I was during the season.
That being said, I still have a focus. During off-season, most go back to the discipline they love most, which is completely understandable. If I did that, I’d be swimming every day. However, I can’t afford to do that if I want to improve in triathlons. My swim is not going to get any faster. I’m about 30% slower than I was in college and I know I will never be that fast again, at least not by training for triathlons. Plus I know I have a little untapped speed remaining in my run and bike so I need to keep my focus there, mainly on my run. So for now, most rides are 50-60 min, runs vary between 25-50 min, and swims 45 min- an hour, but are done with a masters team. Most of my workouts are easy, but I won’t forego speed work, I do some once per week in each discipline. The only other thing I’m doing is my PT exercises I was given last spring for my hip and back issues. (I’ve learned to never stop doing these, even when things are feeling great).
Well, that’s it for my workouts for a couple months. With that, some think I have all this extra time on my hands, especially with our girls in school all day now. Oh contra ire mon freer! I’m back to swim coaching a few nights per week and am providing more swim lessons. Plus I can actually get my work (triathlon coaching) done during the day instead of at night after our girls go to bed. So my ‘extra’ time normally goes into getting a good nights sleep.
Hopefully you are getting ample sleep also. It really makes a difference in workout & race performance. Here are some other off season tips too:
1) Focus on your weakness. For most it’s swimming, but that doesn’t mean jump in a pool and do lots of yardage. Quite the opposite, spend most of your time on technique. Yes, it can be boring and you’ll probably get anxious to do more yardage, don’t. Why swim tons of yards without good technique? It’ll only instill improper technique and make it harder down the road to change it. Improve your form now so when you do need to put in the yards, you can do so more efficiently and with greater speed. Now read this paragraph again because most will ignore it. 😉
a. Increase frequency in your weakest discipline. If it’s swimming, do mainly drills, even if only 20-30 min per workout. If it’s running or biking, ensure you still do some speed workouts, but also ensure you have easy days in between to deter the chance of injury.
2) Get to your desired weight, at least within a few pounds, before you start training for next season. You want to be able to focus on your training, not your weight. And no, you don’t need to/shouldn’t train more to do this, you need to eat smart. If you need help, which I did, seek advice from a Dietician. That’s not to say you shouldn’t enjoy some things you normally wouldn’t during your race season, do so. Just limit the frequency and serving size.
3) Try something new, it’ll give you a great mental break and will help with motivation for next season. Take up paddle tennis, boxing, racquetball, some sort of class, etc. If you can’t/don’t want to, at least mix up your workouts. Try new routes or do current ones in the opposite direction, run & bike on trails, join a masters team, train with different people (some slower and some faster), work out at different times of the day if possible, etc.
4) Don’t ignore your body. If you’ve been doing PT exercises and/or getting massage, continue to do so and go into next season as healthy and strong as you can.
Yes, triathlon is a hobby for most of us, but many are quite serious about their racing goals and aspirations. The more serious you are, the more you need to hone in on all these fine details.
Now go have some fun!