Needing some advice or guidance on how to make the most out of the offseason? You have worked hard all year long on your triathlon fitness, obviously you don’t want to lose fitness, but you need a break from all the swimming, biking, and running. In this article you will find several tips on what to do to mix things up in the offseason and tips that will actually be able to build on and improve on even more when your in season training picks back up.
The leaves are turning and that means another triathlon “offseason” is approaching. I put “offseason” in parenthesis because, let’s face it, there really is no offseason in the sport of triathlon. But sometimes our motivation can be affected once we complete our final race of the season and we no longer have a goal to look forward to, at least not for a few months. What should be a four- to six-week transition period can easily turn into two to three months of lack luster training and a decline in fitness.
Below are eight tips to keep your focus and determination throughout the entire offseason. Using these tips in your offseason training can help you maintain your fitness and set you up for a successful season next year.
Racing in the winter months can be a great motivator to help you stick to a consistent training schedule. If your goal is to get faster, plan a few 5K or 10K races in the offseason. If you plan on doing an Ironman 70.3 or a full-distance event later next year, look for a half or full marathon during your base training.
Maybe your weakness is swimming. Look for a Masters swim club and sign up for a few meets. Racing in the offseason helps keep you sharp and tuned up so when you get back into the triathlon racing schedule, you’ll be primed and ready to show off your new fitness gains.
Train Your Weaknesses
“The offseason is when championships are won.” You have heard this quote before. Yes, you need to allow for full recovery once you have completed your final race of the season but understand that a successful triathlon season depends on consistent offseason work. Working your weaknesses and limiters will be your focus and these weaknesses can turn into strengths with consistent efforts.
Try this strategy: set some offseason goals. Examples could be to improve swimming efficiency, build running foundation, commit to a strength training program or get better on the hills on your bike. These offseason goals should help guide you toward achieving your seasonal goals.
Hire a Coach
Don’t wait until March to hire a coach. Now is the time when a coach can plan a detailed training regimen that will be set up for long-term success. As a coach myself, it’s a tough variable to handle when prospecting triathletes come to me six weeks before an “A” race. Being able to help an athlete build fitness through long term planning and progressions is the way to go. Also, having a coach in the offseason will keep you dialed in and focused with a smart and structured plan throughout the winter months.
Join a Club
For the most part, triathlon training is done individually. But having a group of others join you periodically can be a great way to keep you motivated and accountable during the offseason. That is the exact reason I started The Visalia Triathlon Club. Our members love getting together, even in the offseason, to train and work out. Being around like-minded individuals will help you keep your focus during the winter because you’ll have others shooting for similar goals and addressing similar training needs.
Become a One-Sport Beast
The offseason is a great time to get good at your weak sport. It’s a fact, if you work at one sport, you will get better. “Repetition is the mother of skill,” says Jim Rohn (personal growth coach). For a four- to six-week period, add four to six workouts per week of your weaker sport while you maintain fitness in the other two. This added fitness and detailed training will transition to your overall performance as you enter the main triathlon season.
Strength training should be implemented by 100 percent of triathletes during the offseason. Adding in strength work in the offseason will help develop strong connective tissue, strengthen your joints, tendons and muscles, and add durability to your body so when you hit the beginning of your main triathlon season, you have an added physical fitness element to assist your three sports.
Find a qualified strength and fitness coach who can set up a smart training plan specifically designed to enhance your movement efficiency and overall functional strength.
Plan Your “A” Races
Once your final race has been completed, assess how the season went. What were your weaknesses and strengths? And what are some goals for next year? As you start constructing this game plan, it’s important to start planning your race calendar as early as possible so you can fully prepare and allow adequate time to train. Time flies by fast and if you have a goal to complete a big early-season race, you have to train in the offseason to set yourself up for success.
Allow Mental and Physical Regeneration
All of the above strategies are great to stay focused during the triathlon offseason. But in order to reap the benefits of these great tips, you must allow full recovery after your triathlon season has been completed. Getting back into a full, structured training plan too quickly could lead to burnout, demotivation, injury and lack luster training.
If you have had a grueling triathlon season and have been training consistently the entire year, you need a good chunk of time to recover. Use this time for light, unstructured training and mental recovery. This will help build back your motivation and drive so that, once again, you can go at it with full steam for the next season.
Swimbikerun.com is a great place to find all of your triathlon gear, supplies, and equipment, as well as any training tips and motivation!