Posts tagged: off season

Triathlon Off Season Training

By Luis |

Every year when I read the Hawaii Ironman stories I get that end of the season feeling. The leaves are falling off the trees and for many of us snow is in the forecast. Many of us reflect on our performances this year and start preparing for next season. I find that most triathletes tend to respond to the off-season in one of two ways. Some take too much time off and get totally out of shape and others keep training hard and are seen running intervals at the track.

I do recommend a bit of a break this time of the year. I also recommend enough training concentrating on aspects often forgotten during the racing season.

Take a physical and mental break

Once you finished your last race of the season it is time to take a break. It is important to let your body recover but perhaps more importantly, let your mind rest from all the training and racing stress. Play a team sport, go hiking with your loved ones or go on a skiing trip. You can still do some running, swimming or biking. Just keep it fun and unstructured. New activities will invigorate you. Not to mention that your non-triathlete friends and loved ones would be glad to see you.

Concentrate on technique

Once you get started with triathlon specific training keep it easy to moderate and work on your technique. The best time of the year to work on technique is the off-season. During the racing season many athletes are so worried about split times and distance that they forget about technique. Get your swim coach to film your stroke. Concentrate on pedaling circles while on the bike. If your bike is uncomfortable this is the best time of the year to get a new bike or get a professional bike fit on your old bike. Your body will have the time to adjust to any bike changes. For the run I recommend working on some running drills to improve turnover and minimize the time your foot is on the ground. Most top runners can maintain 90 steps per minute or better. Count the steps on one leg only or double to 180 and count both legs over a minute.

If you are not sure, try this test. First make sure you have a good idea of your aerobic pace at your maximum aerobic heart rate. Now go out and do between 15-20 minutes of fast running either in the form of interval work (such as 3 x 1000 on the track or 1 x 5 minutes, 2 x 3 minutes, 3 x 1 minute fartlek). Now monitor your body for the next few days. If your aerobic pace gets quicker from this workout, you will probably benefit from doing speedwork. If you get slower or get sick, your body is not in the shape to handle speed work at this time and you may benefit from doing a couple more weeks of base work.

Don’t be a (January) National Champion

I am not sure where I heard this quote but I like it. Every time someone tells me about a great set of repeats or some crazy ride done at an incredible pace during the off-season I use the quote. The likelihood that this athlete can maintain this sort of effort throughout the entire year is not very good. Training takes effort, it causes pain and it wears on you. Save that energy for when it counts later in the season. Being fit in January does not mean that you will be that much fitter by summer. The more likely scenario is low performance during the summer due to over training and getting mentally drained from all the high intensity.

You can also train your weakness, build strength and get started on planing your racing season.