Off-Season: Races are over, now what?
Your last race of the season is behind you and it is time to take that well deserved break. However you know how much work you put in to get to where you are right now, and if you would like to preserve most of your new fitness level, you should stay active in the off-season while you train certain things.
Approach it as a maintenance phase rather than aiming to improve. You know you will lose some fitness and that is part of the process as it will give your body a break and boost your motivation for next season, however, to stay fit you still need to do some work, especially if you are a beginner without a swimming background. The list below will provide you a guideline on what you should do:
- Swim often
Minimum once a week, ideally twice. Swimming is a very skilled sport that you lose the feel for it very fast, unlike cycling or running. Use a different pool or swim open water if you can to mix things up a little
You don’t need to swim for too long or too intensity, but just being in the water and do some laps will maintain your feel for it. Twenty minutes is enough.
- Focus on strength and speed:
Whenever you are out, do a quick set of speed or strength in any of the disciplines, these are the core of your fitness and unlike endurance if you loose it, it takes longer to recover.
On the bike or run you can head to the hills and just let the course help you with your effort, ride it hard up and run it fast down. In the pool do some casual sprints across the pool.
- Avoid longer sessions:Endurance comes and goes very easily. Let it go for now, a month or so of a good training plan once you are back and you will be fit as before.Another reason is to also let your hormonal system restore, staying away from long workouts will be beneficial to bring the “building” hormones such as growth hormone and testosterone up, and decrease the catabolic hormones like cortisol. Ideally keep sessions to shorter than forty minutes
- Execise often:Note the word exercise rather than training. Just get the heart rate beating with other sports or activities. If swimbikerun, just head out for casual and unstructured sessions.Short, frequent and easy sessions boost your metabolism without draining your motivation and has no negative response on your endrocrine system. You will also feel more relaxed with a little bit of endorphin, another hormonal response that makes you feel good and relaxed
- Get a mental breakAvoid the triathlon media or the internet to restore motivation. In terms of burnout, 99% of the causes are MENTAL/NEURAL. When we tap our entire being in one way without giving ourselves a break, we are in “always on” mode.Triathlon forums, websites, magazines, stores, people — this always-the-same-thing preoccupation, night and day, flattens us. Our entire nervous system breaks down. People burn out on non-physically demanding things like fly fishing.
It’s not just physical. Your challenge right now is not so much to recover physically as that you need to give yourself a rest from all things triathlon.
- Be patient when back on the training planif you stayed fit in the offseason, you will be in decent shape once you get back to your training plan but still off your previous splits or paces. Don’t rush things. As a general rule, it takes as long to get back in shape to how long you were taking a break.Aim to build the consistency first, then add the volume and only after a couple weeks you add the intensity into the mix. You will be fresh, motivated and raring to go, this is a dangerous combination thay can potentially make you train too hard, wait until you have a decent level of fatigue before you push
Enjoy your training and have a great end of season!
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