I guess there’s no “endless summer” for us triathletes. And although I’ve been trying to ignore it as if that would delay it’s onset, sooner or later I must accept the fact that the triathlon off season has arrived.
Only just a couple weeks ago, we had our first significant dip in the temperature here in Nashville. I remember being in a sporting goods store and overhearing another customer say, “Christmas is in the air,” and that’s when it first cut me deep. Staring at the floor, my eyes glazed over as I then realized – and came to terms with -the fact that summer is gone for good.
Full of melancholy and sentiment, I fished out a hoodie, my sweats, and slippers from the bottom drawer of my closet and am giving you 9 Triathlon Off Season Training Tips for Beginner Triathletes. (Pout.)
It goes without saying that everyone has different goals for the triathlon race season, and that means that we will all have different goals in our off season training as triathletes. Nonetheless, these nine off season training tips are universal enough to get you thinking (and planning) about some important considerations to keep your mind and training in gear…for the long winter months ahead.
Tips For Triathlon Training in the Off Season
1. First, Reflect
In moving into the triathlon off season, first take some time to consider your previous season. Just take a bird’s eye view of… Ask yourself questions like,
- “What were some highlights that I most enjoyed?”
- “What were certain things that worked well for me?”
- “If I could do it over again, what would I do?”
- “Where do I want to improve?”
- “How will these ideas integrate into my next triathlon season?”
Jess has a list of really good article on How To Overcome The Post-Race Blues with questions that apply to post-season perfectly.
2. Next, Keep Off Season Triathlon Training Fun
Let the stress of racing drift away and melt like a snowflake. Take some of the pressure off by finding new ways to keep your triathlon training fun. Not all of us have similar personalities, but I myself have a need to change things up every now and again so I don’t get bored and unmotivated.
I wish I could say buy some warm clothes and a wetsuit and just keep up your triathlon training in the off season, but there’s more to it than that.
In the off season, I’ll use the opportunity to mix it up a bit with some new ideas, which can include taking some classes at the gym, following a DVD program like P90x, spin class for when Baby, It’s Cold Outside, trying new machines you wouldn’t normally take to…you know, the Stair Master or the rowing machine. We also rely on our indoor bike trainer for those days when we can’t make it to the gym and it’s too cold, or icy, to bike outside.
3. Let Your Body Recover
One thing, I can assure you, is that you won’t want to head into the beginning of next triathlon season feel burned out and tired. It’s one thing to be tired of training indoors and look forward to open water swim workouts again. But it’s a different problem if you’re just plain tired.
Taking long breaks over the Thanksgiving and Christmas is never a problem for me, but be sure to keep up with disciplines such as stretching, rolling, massage, and keep the take-care-of-my-body mindset.
4. Find a Focus
If someone gave you enough tokens for 3 solid months of “free play” how would you spend them? Would you try for a high score of just have fun and take it easy?
Planning is not my biggest strength (but, with Jess’ help I’m working on it), and I find myself drifting along when I don’t have a good idea of the direction I’m headed. It’s helpful to have at least a general idea of where you want to go for next racing season, and use the off season training to set your sails and catch the trade winds in that direction. I’ll talk about some of our goals in a minute, but it could be following a strength training plan, building power on the bike, or boosting your swim endurance or be able to take on a longer race next year.
5. Use the Off Season to Rehab Problem Areas
By the end of last triathlon season and in transitioning to marathon training, my lower back began it get tight and achy. Now that I will be spending a little less time swimming laps, pedaling in the saddle, and pounding the pavement, I’ll be spending more time doing two things: stretching and strengthening key muscles responsible for my lower back pain. That way I’ll stay healthy during the off season and be strong and fully prepped for my key races.
6. Tone It Back a Touch
We’ll be toning back the overall intensity level of many of our workouts, and this goes along with keeping it fun, letting your body recover, and rehabbing. I’m not going to grind it on the bike trainer for 3 hours at a time, but that’s just me. Maybe you can do so in a relaxed manner and enjoy every minute of it.
7. Zero in on Goals
What is it that you really want to accomplish when you think about using triathlon training in the off season as a tool to prep for next year? For us, Jess and I are going to be focusing on speed work – that is, shaving off some time on the run specifically. Using treadmills as a tool to set threshold paces and do intervals fits perfectly here…even though Jess prefers to run outside!
8. Strength Training
Hmmm… Since we won’t be nailing an outdoor brick workout for the next two hours, and really not going to do a long brick inside a stuffy old gym, what will we do with all this extra time? Strength training for triathlon is one of the best – and in my opinion, most under-rated tools for a solid race season and high performance for the long run (yes, and a long run, too).
But just like any other triathlon training workout, these skills must be mastered. That way you’ll get the most reward and the least amount of risk. Inside secret: I’m working on a well-round and really cool strength training workout plan for triathletes…coming soon! Until then, check out our workout page for some awesome triathlon strength training workouts.
9. Hone Your Skills and Techniques
Along with having goals for faster run splits, we are going to take some time to refine our swim techniques in the pool. Our swim workouts will be shorter, but focused on specifics. We’re planning to drill down into technique flaws with…yup, drills.
Jess also wants to make the transition to clipless pedals and she told me that she is going to practice clipping in and out 50x a day so that come spring, it’s second nature.
The off season is a great time to practice things that you were uncomfortable with and to work on your technique so that when triathlon season starts up again, you’re ready to rock your workouts!
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In the end, you want your off season triathlon training to prepare you to have an even better up and coming year. You can do so by using this time wisely and as a tool to practice some things that may have fallen through the cracks such as proper recovery, technique development, and strength workouts for triathlon.
Some of these off season triathlon tips will help you have a smart off season, where you’ll feel stronger, faster, and rejuvenated for next year – all while having fun and staying healthy… and warm, for goodness sake!