The 2014 season is officially over and the off-season has begun. In 2015, I’ll be doing my biggest race of the year in March. Probably not the best decision, but I’ve wanted to do my company sponsored race for a few years. I’ve talked to a lot of my team mates searching for ways to beat the off-season blues and come out swinging in the early season. Below is a bit of what I uncovered.
Set your goals for next year and mark your calendar
After a long year of balancing training and racing against the rest of life’s obligations, it’s important to take step back and plan out what you will achieve in the next season. I do this by sitting down and taking stock of my goals from last year. Did I achieve what I set out to? Is there something I missed last year that should be a priority this year? That sub 20 min 5k has been on there a while. Should this be the year? Next, the pencil goes to next year. My list of goals will include race objectives like finishing a new distance or event, or setting a particular PR. I will also add some personal and professional objectives that are probably even more important. Finally, though I’ve been at it for a while, I will start outlining the races that I’ll do. Once I have everything mapped out, I compare notes with the family and see which races need to get dropped for other events. This year I’ll be dropping several races from the calendar due to vacation. Guess the bike will have to make a road trip!
Mix it Up
Most of the pre-season and regular season will be spent on focused training, ensuring we get the right workouts in and perfect the techniques and nutrition that will carry us through races. November through January is the perfect time to give other sports a try. In Colorado, this of course means playing in the snow. I’m not much for the resorts any more, so hopefully this will translate into some back-country skiing and mountain biking on the white stuff. Why not give cyclocross a try?
Take some time off
Many of the athletes I talked to are mentally and physically done with triathlon when the season ends and need some time away. In concert with the previous tip to mix it up. Don’t be afraid to step away for a few weeks or months if necessary and give your brain and body a rest. After all, this is a hobby for most of us and though we all like to pretend at times that we are pros, most of us have gone pro in another profession. Put the bike on the rack for a bit and before you know it, you’ll want nothing more than to get out on 2 wheels again.
Eat right… most of the time…
While you’re taking some time off, it’s important to remember that your diet will need to be adjusted. The same number of calories that you need while you’re training will dramatically increase your weight when you’re not training. I can say this with conviction as every off season I go through this. It takes a while for your appetite to adjust to your caloric needs and for some of us, it seems like that adjustment never happens. I spend most of the time hungry. That said, this is the time to splurge!!! Within reason, of course, and not every meal! Be sure and watch out for liquid calories. They go down quickly and have a tendency to stick around and be difficult to shed.
Love the Trainer
I used to dread riding the trainer. With a few tricks, I’ve managed to turn it from the “drainer” or “painer” into the celebrated “Pain Cave”. I’m lucky enough to have space in the basement carved out that is my area. I have a great setup for my bike gear and a spot for the trainer where I can mount my laptop and a monitor. This allows me to ride while watching movies or throwing myself at Sufferfest videos on trainer road. I would much rather be riding outside, but sometimes the trainer is unavoidable and it’s taken me a long time but I’ve finally come to embrace it and actually look forward to it.
Don’t risk your form
One of the great tips I picked up recently from Coach EK is to not risk your form in the off-season. This applies particularly to the swim, but is equally important for the other two disciplines. Once you’ve hit the main set, take full stock of your technique. If you can’t find your rhythm and your technique keeps falling apart, it might be better to abandon the workout rather than reinforce bad form. This is an evaluation that has to be made on the fly and must be for the right reason. Being a pansy and not feeling like putting in the work does not count.
Go easy, but crush one every now and then
Lastly, as we continue steps towards becoming better athletes in the cold months it’s important to invest time in building the solid base that will be the platform for the coming season. My coach loves to stress the importance of long slow workouts and I’m am 100% bought into his philosophy. That said, every now and then during the offseason, it is important to (within reason) crush one. This will mean something different for each athlete, but for me it usually means going for a hard run and attacking a mile or two, or setting a few new PRs on the MTB trails near the house. Throw one down, but don’t get hurt.
What tips do you have for maximizing your training time during the off-season and coming out ready to rumble at the start of the next season?