By Kim Webster
The colder weather and the shorter days signal the off-season for most of us here in New England. So in place of race reports and descriptions of in-season trials and tribulation, I will be sending this blog in a different direction for a while. The posts will be comprised of tidbits of information and advice on triathlon training, sports psychology, mindfulness, or anything else that strikes my fancy. So stay tuned if you are interested!
The Top 5 DO’s and DON’’T’s for your Triathlon Offseason
1) Act like a normal person
Spend as much time as you can with friends and family. Stay up late. Sleep in. You know it won’t last long. So just for a short time, live like most other people live. Drink beer, sit on the couch, and watch football. Give it a try anyway.
When the barista asks you if you would like whipped cream on your salted caramel mocha, don’t hesitate. Just say YES! You have earned it. Enjoy every last ounce of sugar. My personal favorite is Trader Joe’s pumpkin pie spice cookie butter. Dig in. With a spoon. Soon enough you will feel guilty for indulging in such a way. There is nothing to feel guilty about in the off-season.
3) Get off the roads and hit the trails
It shouldn’t all be sedentary. We do still need (or want) to stay active anyway. (We are type A triathletes…) Getting off the roads and onto the trails is great for building strength and durability while continuing to hold onto an aerobic base. Mountain biking and trail running are two of my favorites. In addition to building strength and durability when out on the trails, you develop maneuverability skills, which make you an all around better athlete.
4) Strength Train
Lift weights. Now is the time to get strong. Strength training often takes a backseat to the swim, bike, and run trifecta during times of heavy training volume. So now is the time to make it your top priority in training. Get strong NOW! Then ride, run and swim faster later.
5) Reflect, set goals, and plan for the upcoming season
Reflect upon your past season — think about what went well and pinpoint areas where you want to improve. Take the time to think critically and set specific goals for the upcoming season. AND most importantly, now is the time to formulate the plan. Don’t just think about where you want to be. Think carefully about how you plan to get there. Map it all out. Goals are meaningless without developing a plan to reach them.
Now I do support treating yourself BUT stocking your freezer full of pints of Ben & Jerry’s might be over-doing it a bit. So indulge a bit, but don’t over-do it! You will waste valuable training time if you have to spend the first few months of base training trying to lose all of your off-season weight gain. So keep yourself in check!
2) Try to Lose Weight
It’s all about finding that balance. Now isn’t the time to live by a strict diet to try to lose weight. It’s better to gain a few pounds (I emphasize a few) in the off-season. A bit of extra weight will help support your immune system and put you in the position to be healthy when you hit the Base cycle. Staying at race weight all year long is not the ideal scenario for your body and your health! So better to gain a few pounds than lose a few!
3) Keep training the same way
Your body needs a break. Variety is the name of the game in the off-season. The same stressors won’t give you any added benefit. So now is the time to try something new – zumba, pilates, cross fit, kick boxing, whatever it may be!
4) Race every weekend
Give your body the break it needs! In order to take a step forward, you need to first take a step back. So slow down and spend some time developing good technique. Becoming more efficient will make you much faster in the long run than racing every weekend.
5) Be a slave to a training schedule
Now is the time to be flexible. Skip a workout or two if you don’t feel like doing them. Or if you would rather run than swim, do it! Take some time to do what makes you happy. When the season kicks into gear, you won’t have as much flexibility. So now, do what you want! Keep yourself happy, feeling good, and excited to attack the 2016 racing season.
Feel free to send along your favorite Do’s and Don’t’s for this off-season. Good luck and most importantly, take the time to enjoy your flexibility this off-season!