For many, triathlon race season will soon be over, if it isn’t already. Unless you qualified for Kona (October), there is a good chance that your A-Race season is winding down.
What should a triathlete do when the races get fewer and further between? Actually, quite a lot. The offseason is a great time to do a few specific things, recover from a tough season, and give your body a different type of workout for a few months.
Here are a few tips on how to make productive use of your offseason.
Rest and Cross Train
The first step is to rest. That doesn’t mean you have to just sit around for a few weeks, but it is good to throttle back on the intensity a bit. If you are a hardcore road biker, go on a few trail or gravel rides. If you are an avid daily runner, maybe reduce your frequency and replace it with some yoga.
Cross training is something that not only helps your body heal, but you might also notice an improvement in your overall conditioning. We hear lots of triathletes say that they are in the best shape of the year in the offseason – when their workouts are balanced and moderate.
If you are not the type of rest or cross train, then at least do something different. Do group rides if you are normally a solo rider, or vice versa. Or go on longer, slower runs instead of faster, training runs.
Figure Out a Winter Plan
Once you have had a few weeks of rest or changing it up – ideally 6 weeks or more – it is time to figure out a winter plan. In climates like the Northeast’s, that can mean getting a little creative.
Sometime around December or January, you might want to start building your base back up. One of the best ways to do this is to focus on indoor cycling for a few months. There are a couple ways to do that.
First, you could invest in an indoor bike trainer and some videos or a streaming app to go along with it. This allows you to setup your bike so that you can ride it indoors all winter. Doing some type of coached workout during the ride will help you get the most out of it – you can actually get a pretty great interval workout in just 45 or 60 minutes. For those with a limitless budget, a smart trainer is also an intriguing choice and really growing in popularity. Peloton is one – we have all seen them – but there are many others.
Second, you could find a group cycling or spin class and ride indoors. It sometimes takes a little trial an error to find an instructor and class type that is right for you, but this can be a great way to get a workout that is very different than your typical summer road ride. The downside, obviously, is that you will need to either have a membership or pay by-the-class.
As for swimming and running, those are a little easier to do during winter. Assuming it is not icy, winter running is pretty simple as long as you have the right gear, and swimming in a pool is the same whether it is June or January.
Fix and Adjust
The offseason is a great time to address issues that might have arisen during the last tri season. Maybe you noticed that your swim stroke tweaks your shoulder every time you go for a long swim. You probably need to reset your swim technique, and winter is a great time to find a coach or class and do just that. Or maybe you noticed an IT Band starting to act up on your runs. Invest in a foam roller, and if you have the budget consider a few deep tissue massages. This type of therapy can have you ready to roll when the snow melts again.
I also mentioned yoga above – that can be a great addition to a winter regimen. In addition to yoga, I like HIIT workouts of any kind, because they allow you to work on core strength, range of motion, and explosiveness – a few things that you might not get much of when you are in the throes of tri season.
Evaluate Your Gear
You probably have some things that you realized need to be fixed every time you went for a workout during the season, but there just never seemed to be a good time. Now is that time!
Do a thorough inspection of your bike. Adjust it, replace the chain or other parts if needed, and get it fitted if you felt that your positioning wasn’t quite right. Replace your running shoes. Consider changing your bike tires if you put lots of miles on them. In general, take the time to work on your equipment now, when it gets dark out earlier, rather than in the midst of a new triathlon season.