By Kevin KonczakB.T.com Contributing CoachThe leaves are falling off the trees. The sun peeks out too late and goes to sleep too early. Kids are back in school. And riding your bike to work conjures up visions of freezing your patooty off. Welcome to the off-season.Assuming you’ve been through a couple of triathlons, you’ve followed a plan throughout the season. But there’s nothing left to do. Now comes the time that you are left wandering aimlessly thinking only one thing — “Now what?”
Of course there’s the logical answer — REST. But you don’t want to spend the off-season sitting on your butt for weeks at a time. Why? Because we all want to get to the finish line sooner. We train so we can be stronger, leaner, more efficient, and, in a word, faster. Otherwise we would sit our butts on the couch, and just race when the feeling struck us. Off-season training is as important as tri training. So here’s some advice on how to do it:Log cross-training hoursYou can hike, water-ski, snow ski, play tennis, or do virtually any sort of lighter non-tri-related activity except Monopoly or board games. Some active workouts:
Winter series of shorter races
5K’s, 10K’s or trail runs.
Any of these activities will break up the boredom of the tri routine you follow the rest of the year. How much is enough?
Three light activities a week will be enough to keep the guilt away mentally and physically (especially the “off-season chub”). A break isn’t about not training; it is about recovery and discovery, and honing/gaining knowledge about you. Focus on performance enhancersDuring the season we’re training so hard on physical manifestation of performance that some of tend to neglect the soft side of training – measurement. Yes, we’re talking gadgets:
Lactate threshold testing,
VO2 max testing
Playing around with performance-enhancing toys such as power meters and cranks wattage counters and the like.
During the season, it seems there isn’t time to figure all this stuff out. But why not concentrate on the extras that could help boost your performance—the off-season is perfect for it. With volume decrease you can really test some things without hurting your tri-season progress.
Experiment. Try a power meter, learn about them, and try different bikes for a few rides. Borrow these items where you can, or try to rent them — it will be a neat test drive before you dish out the full cash amount.
Chances are that you’ll find a new friend in that little toy, and more than that, a method to cut the time it takes you to improve. I think it is kind of cool to watch your wattage on a bike ride—although there are pros and cons to each and every one of these toys. But use the off season to learn about them and figure out how to use them correctly, and you won’t feel like you’re wasting “training time.”Off-season with a purposeThe off-season isn’t just about getting away from the daily tri grind. It should be used to:
Rest and relax from tri training without turning into couch potato
Cross train by getting out there minimum of three times a week
Focus on performance-enhancing technology – getting to know what works for you and what doesn’t
Plan for your next season, including defining your next season’s goal and determining how much time it will take you to get ready for that goal.
And the most important thing —Don’t set a specific number of days or weeks for your off-season. You don’t want to be thinking “Geez, I only have a month off…and now 25 days left…and then 10 days, etc.” This will stress you out, and mentally you may not be fresh when you begin formal training.
About the author: Kevin Konczak is a USA Triathlon and USA Cycling Certified Coach.