So, the weather has begun to change, you’ve cleaned and put away the bike, and your wet suit is in the closet. Maybe you’ve raced three or fives races this season; maybe just one. But you’re physically and mentally tired. You don’t want to even look at most of your triathlon gear, especially in the area that you feel is the most challenging.
The offseason has begun! What do you do now? Most people think, “Yes, ‘offseason!’ I get to sit around, watching TV and eating whatever I want!”
Well, you could do that.
But the offseason is not really off from the healthy lifestyle that you have started. You have spent months building your fitness, gaining strength and abilities, maybe even losing some weight — why waste all that work just to build it all again starting in February?
Set a Positive Focus
Really, the offseason is about a different focus. What you really need during the offseason is a physical, but mostly mental, break from triathlon training and racing. Triathlon takes a lot of equipment and a lot of mental focus. It’s tiring.
During the fall and winter, focus on your weakest link, like improving your swim form. With no distance or intensity needed for an upcoming race, you can enjoy swimming and focus more on form and feel. Or reward yourself by focusing on what you like to do best.
We are lucky here in California to have nice weather through fall and most of winter. So you can go out for a bike ridae just to enjoy being on the bike because you want to, not because you have to.
What I do is focus on running.
During the winter when the weather is not so great, running is perfect. Running can be done just about anywhere and at any time. It can be done on a treadmill or outside. It takes the least amount of time for a quality fitness workout, relieves stress and keeps you in shape. Instead, you enjoyed fun winter training and have a better fitness and strength base. The only real piece of equipment you need is your running shoes.
Indulge, You Deserve It!
But don’t lose what you’ve worked so hard to build.
Fall and winter mean the holiday season is here. Kids are off from school, preparations are being made and family is in town; or you are traveling to visit relatives. Make sure to pack your running shoes! Your schedule may be off over the holidays, but make sure to schedule your workouts. You have put in so much time and effort, so keep up the good work and don’t put yourself in a place where you will have to rebuild your fitness. Have a great time, enjoy your time off from work, game nights with the family, and just a break from the norm — but continue to enjoy the fitness you have built. Remember, even if you just have 20-30 minutes, get out for a run! Especially with more people in the house, a little “me time” may be just what you need.
If you need any extra motivation, include your family and friends.
The kids will enjoy mom or dad time while riding a bike on a crisp autumn morning.
As far as eating: turkey, mashed potatoes, pumpkin or pecan pie — whatever most entices you, EAT IT! We all need a little break, so don’t be hard on yourself if you over-indulge. Enjoy what you love; it’s the holidays. Just keep in mind how the beginning of next triathlon season will feel.
Work on Form and Strength
The winter is a perfect time to work on form and gain leg and core strength. During the actual triathlon season more focus is on distances, intensities and actually swimming, biking and running. Form, as well as leg and core strength, get squeezed, but mostly thrown to the wayside in lieu of a long bike ride.
Stay Motivated by working out
Training in winter can be tough. It’s cold and dark when you get off work, and Saturday morning is so chilly you see your breath — it’s not easy to crawl out of bed. Include your friends and family.
Now that you can relax a bit with no impending race, some easy rides, runs and swims with a friend or family member not only introduces others to a fit lifestyle, but will make working out fun.
Mostly, have fun with fitness during the offseason, so you come back to triathlon with a better base and are refreshed mentally to reach new goals.
Liz Elliott is the head coach of the Tri-Valley Triathlon Club based in Dublin. Liz specializes in preparing beginner triathletes for their first race(s). Liz just completed her second Ironman in August, bettering her performance in every aspect of the race. Contact her at email@example.com. Find former TriSteps columns in issues #28, 31, 33, 35, 37 and 39. All can be accessed in the digital magazine archives at www.SportStarsOnline.com.
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