Triathletes that have successful race seasons consistently do two things very well:
1) Master their winter triathlon training 2) Eliminate weaknesses
You may be thinking the off-season is the time to have 3-4 months off, eat what you want and party hard?
Sorry to break it to you, but not really!
Off course, we train hard during the season, and we deserve some time off for sure but if your winter training is poor, or a bit random, you will spend the first few months of the next season, struggling and playing catch up just to get back to where you were at the end of the previous season.
What if you used the winter training season to get ahead so by the time spring rolls around you are in far better shape to spring board forward instead of starting from scratch?
But this does NOT mean continue at the same pace doing the same training you did during the season. Of course you need a break mentally and physically to repair, to rest and to change your pace to come back mentally and physically fresher.
But you are probably wondering:
How do I prepare for next year, when this last year has been so disrupted and you don't feel like you have really had a race season? How do I avoid the temptations of staying under the duvet when it is freezing wet and dark outside? Particularly when next years races seem so long away!
Every triathlete looks forward to the off-season, and this year is very different because there hasn't really been an 'on season'.
However, I think it is still REALLY important to have some time off to rest, and recuperate.
But how much time?
Can I eat what I want?
What training should I do to give me a head start on everyone else next year? How do I best spend the off-season?
These are the usual questions we ask ourselves as we finish up our last (possibly only) race and are still keen to squeeze out best performances…
But when there is no prospect of a race for a few months and the cold, dark nights of winter draw in, it is easy to lose motivation, to head to the café instead of the gym and gradually lose our way, lose focus and end up losing fitness…
One of the worst feelings is the first few rides or runs of the new season when you remember how hard it is, and even worse when you are breathing hard, you can feel the extra pounds of weight jiggling and you are suffering intense lactic burn but your mates seem to be handling it fine!
For some athletes, a winter training victory is that they ONLY put on 5kg of fat…. But I’m sure you could do better than that
Even picking one new strategy and actually doing it- could make the difference from being at the end of the pack next year to the top half, or even better!
This is a long read, but chose 2 or 3 headings that grab your attention and stick with them. You won’t regret it.
1. Review your season and plan a 90-day goal
It is silly to keep training blindly without stepping back and reviewing what happened this season.The beginning of the off-season is the perfect time to review and reflect on the last year..
What went well? What went badly? Where could you improve next year? What would you do differently?
Review your training journal. Try to identify patterns of sleep, patterns of eating, certain training sessions that made the biggest difference.
Think about next year:
What you do want to achieve next year?
Think for a minute about a goal that would really make you happy proud and glad to be alive. This should not be your coaches goal, the “appropriate” goal you should be going for but a really cool goal that would stretch you, challenge you, maybe one that no one else thinks is possible…
What would it take to achieve this? Be specific.
If you wanted to experiment or change your diet, the off season is a great time to try it. Never make any drastic changes when you are training hard or have a race coming up. Once you have got this- then extrapolate backwards- what therefore could you do in the next 90 days that would set you up to achieve this goal?
If the swim is your weakness and holding back your times- perhaps your 90-day goal could be:
By February 28th, I will be able to swim 2km in 30 minutes
What about if you would love to do a half Ironman but you always get knee pain when you run longer than 1 hour?
What if you use the off-season to see a professional, get a gait analysis then learn what stretches and strengthening you need to do?
Maybe your 90-day goal is being able to run for 2 hours without knee pain
Maybe you keep getting muscle tweaks from your hamstring and calf muscles. Maybe you do not stretching- ever!
Your 90 day goal could be I will do yoga 4 times a week for the next 90 days”.
This is not something you would have to do forever and maybe just knowing there is an end point will help you stick at it. Once you have made big improvements in flexibility, it is so much easier to maintain through the rest of the season.
Make the focus of your planning your “A” race then work back from there with other smaller races you keep you sharp, give you race practice and mini celebrations along the way.