As the weather turns and fewer races are on the schedule it’s really easy to fall into a Netflix and “bulk” season.
Then when it’s time to prepare for your first race you feel like you’ve never trained a day in your life.
So what are some ways to optimize your off season? Let’s look at some options!
Option 1: Sport-specific blocks
When we don’t need to race it means we don’t need all three sports in their best form. This means you can let your fitness and strength in a couple of the sports take a backseat while you hyper-focus on one sport.
Late fall and early winter seem to be great times to do run focus work. The cool weather can make faster paces seem much easier, so doing interval work is much more enjoyable.
As days get shorter and snow arrives, it’s a great time to shift your focus indoors. Perhaps doing a 4-6 week swim block, followed by a 4-6 week indoor cycling block.
Three separate 4-6 week blocks will, for most of us, get us through the worst part of winter into the time of year we can set our sights on the first triathlon.
Option 2: Cross-train
The value of cross-training cannot be overstated when it comes to both a physical and mental refresh.
If you are ready to mix it up, spend some time in the gym lifting, go on hikes more often, join a pickleball league, enroll in a dance class!
Cross-training can take many different forms, limited only by what you are interested in and/or have access to. The important thing is to get your heart rate up on a regular basis.
Will you return to swimming, cycling and running faster than you were? Probably not, but you will have kept fit and accustomed to higher heart rates, which means the transition back to swim, bike and run will be easier when the time comes.
Option 3: Netflix and Bulk
That’s right. For some of you it might be just what you need. Triathlon is hard. It’s hard on the body, it’s hard on the mind, it’s hard on the family.
Remember: you aren’t a professional athlete. Your livelihood doesn’t depend on your performance at a race, which means it’s ok for your fitness to ebb and flow. In fact, it’s important for your fitness to ebb and flow.
Your body can’t handle “peak fitness” year-round.
Your mind can’t sustain the drive it takes to hold “peak fitness” year-round.
Your family can’t handle the time and effort it takes to remain at “peak fitness” year-round.
Balance in sport doesn’t always mean spending the same amount on everything at all times.
It’s more like a see-saw where there are times you spend focusing on sport, times you spend focusing on family. With, hopefully, an understanding between all of which end is getting the weight at the moment.
So yes, maybe you do need to spend time just hanging out on the couch with your family when you would normally be out for a bike ride.
Even though it may be frustrating to “see your fitness fade,” in the end, everyone involved will appreciate it. Even you will after you see how re-engaging your family in ways you haven’t been able to is life-giving.
What about you? What are your off season plans?