General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Off-season Depression Rss Feed  
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2016-11-19 9:09 AM

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Subject: Off-season Depression
Simple question: how do you adjust to the off-season? I get a bit depressed because I have nothing to look forward to until late May.

I have been racing for 4 years, 3IMs, 6 70.3s, 3 Marathons, 5 Half Marys, numerous Olys.

Each year, I have struggled during the offseason to stay motivated to do much of anything from November - March. Michigan winters are cold and brutal, as well as very short days, so training outside is challenging.

I usually just do some treadmill running and light trainer riding, but nothing too structured.

The bigger issue for me is my weight during the winter. I don't necessarily "blow up," but I definitely am not very careful with my eating habits. That causes me to put on 10-15 and scramble in March-April to shed it.

Any ideas/suggestions are greatly appreciated.

Thanks everyone.

Jeff


2016-11-19 10:15 AM
in reply to: Jeff B

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Subject: RE: Off-season Depression
How about doing something fun and different? racket ball, cross fit (though I've heard you have to be careful about injuries), ballroom dancing, yoga, mountain climbing...
2016-11-19 10:17 AM
in reply to: 0

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Subject: RE: Off-season Depression
I usually still have structured workouts, just not as aggressive as my during-season training. I will start up again after Jan 1 for a mid-April race

Ahh, and the less careful eating and the extra pounds... You're on your own with that, tell me what you do, I need some ideas too.

Edited by Oysterboy 2016-11-19 10:19 AM
2016-11-19 10:38 AM
in reply to: Oysterboy

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Master
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Subject: RE: Off-season Depression
What has helped me a couple of off-seasons was working on improving my cycling power (FTP). I would do an FTP test in November to establish a baseline. Then do 3 workouts a week with intervals. Then I'd retest 8 weeks later. The longest workout was maybe 1:45 with two of the three workouts one hour or less each week. They don't take that long and by changing your pace so often they are not boring. I don't have a power meter but was able to use virtual power with some free software. My bike splits were pretty darn good the following season.

If not cycling then pick swim or run as your winter focus and try to improve that.

2016-11-19 12:32 PM
in reply to: #5205469

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Subject: RE: Off-season Depression
Thanks everyone for the input. Reece, that's a great plan. I have not considered focusing on one specific discipline during the winter. Biking is my weakest discipline by far. It appears you use TR based on your comments. Do you follow one of their training plans, or do you choose your own?

I would be curious to hear what you do.

Thanks.

Jeff
2016-11-19 12:53 PM
in reply to: #5205479

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Subject: RE: Off-season Depression
Fat bike
Cyclocross
Cross country ski
Snowshoe

Have fun, but stay consistent with being active to maintain a general aerobic level of fitness. Embrace the weather and the downtime from major training. Make fun a priority and challenge yourself in new ways. Plenty of ways to increase FTP without doing structure workouts. Do a cyclocross race or cross country ski and you will be humbled very quickly. The challenge to get better in those events will result in a nice training benefit come spring without the "training mindset".


2016-11-19 11:43 PM
in reply to: Jeff B

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Subject: RE: Off-season Depression
Originally posted by Jeff B

Thanks everyone for the input. Reece, that's a great plan. I have not considered focusing on one specific discipline during the winter. Biking is my weakest discipline by far. It appears you use TR based on your comments. Do you follow one of their training plans, or do you choose your own?

I would be curious to hear what you do.

Thanks.

Jeff


Actually I was in a mentor group here a couple years ago and the leaders of that group would post workouts each week. I saved those workouts and have used them each winter. I use Golden Cheetah (a fantastic software and it's free). I don't have a PM but with my KK road machine coupled with the GC software I can get Virtual Power. So I establish my VP FTP in November/December, do the workouts, retest in Jan/Feb then do some more leading up to spring outdoor riding.

A typical workout would look like this:

10' warmup build to 65% FTP
5 x [30" at 110% FTP, 30" at 60% FTP]
5' easy at 60% FTP
5 x [2' at 105% FTP, 1' at 60% FTP]
5' easy at 60% FTP
5' at 95% FTP
10' easy at 60% FTP

That's a 55 minute workout and is not long enough for you go get too bored. I simply put music on and load the workout into GC so on the monitor it will show when I need to change my power etc.
2016-11-20 12:32 AM
in reply to: 0

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Subject: RE: Off-season Depression
I can testify that that stuff works. Someone (I think might have been you) shared those workouts with me two years ago, and they were very effective in getting me to the next level with my biking. (In my case, from pretty pathetic to better than mediocre).

Similar issues with off-season.... It's hard here as there aren't really a lot of outdoorsy-type alternatives to tri training. I do try to get in some MTB rides on weekends, but it's still rainy season, and a lot of trails are flooded. No winter sports, obviously. If I were in the States, I would be doing a lot of pleasure riding and hiking at this time of year, maybe some snowshoeing and XC skiing if snow in the mountains cooperated, plus fun running and swimming.

I really wish I could have gotten in one more major race as my last one (Worlds) didn't go well, for reasons that had nothing to do with preparation, health, or fitness. Definitely some element of depression there (I think I started crying at 80K on the bike, which was 90K in my case, which was the problem....). I thought I would be physically and mentally "done" with it after three HIM in five months, but after how Worlds went down, I was not. Felt like fitness-wise I was "all dressed up with nowhere to go". Seriously, if you had let me go at it in a HIM or Oly 2 or 3 weeks out from that, I think I would have done a major PB! Due to our leave situation at work, though, it isn't possible for me to do another major race until next year.

I spent about a month just fun-running, doing some weekend MTB rides and swimming (I swim year-round--just hate getting out of swim shape) but only doing the kind of workouts I think are fun (lots of medley), not the big distance freestyle sets that I know are useful for HIM training but frankly bore the sh... out of me. For the past two months I've been doing a generic maintenance program that our coach offers; probably similar to those on this site. A lot less volume that peak HIM training (I've been averaging 7-9 hours compared to 15-16 then); mostly Z2 and skills work (run drills, swim technique work, working with different gears and cadences on the bike), and more time in the weight room with different strength routines. It's a nice mental break from workouts that are either so hard, so long, or both that I have to spend lots of time getting psyched up for them and planning my drinks, nutrition, etc. , then recovering from them. (Basically, it's like training in Kona heat/humidity all year, but with motorbikes all over the highway instead of lava fields, and no ocean. Or something like that.)

I have gained weight. In my case, I don't give a damn. It's just the way my body works. Since I reached adult size at 17, you can basically calculate my weight (W) from hours (H) of training per week: 130 - H = W. I don't tend to get much hungrier or eat more/differently when I train more, so I very predictably gain with fewer hours and lose with more, but always stay within a certain range without any effort to eat more/less. Probably something I need to work out with nutrition there!



Edited by Hot Runner 2016-11-20 12:34 AM
2016-11-20 7:14 PM
in reply to: #5205469

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Subject: RE: Off-season Depression
You have snow shoe races up there in Michigan? Different spin on something you already enjoy.
2016-11-21 8:29 AM
in reply to: Jeff B

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Subject: RE: Off-season Depression
If there is enough snow, I cross-country ski. If not, I trail run. I don't like being out in sub-zero temperatures, though, so when it gets that cold, I do a lot of trainer and Netflix time.

I also spend this time to plan for next year. What are my goal races? Am I doing races to support those? Is there possibly a winter race that I can do just for fun/training?
2016-11-21 9:52 AM
in reply to: Jeff B


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Subject: RE: Off-season Depression
I've lived in Wisconsin most of my 62 years and really dislike the cold. I did spend much of the last three winters either in Florida or Cali. However, the one thing I love to do here in the winter is cross country ski. It is an excellent workout and makes being outside in the cold and snow, something I actually look forward to. Easy and inexpensive to get into. Way back in my Cat 3 bike racing days, we were all told that XC skiing was one of the very best ways to use our time in the winter. It's an excellent total body workout.


2016-11-21 11:03 AM
in reply to: Jeff B

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Subject: RE: Off-season Depression
I really don't see it as an off season, just a different training mode. If I have a gap between the next race, I use that as an opportunity to do a bike focus, as that's my low hanging fruit. Building to an IM is a lot of slow boring miles, so I look forward to this time when I can hit it hard, and also not worry about hurting myself as much, because I have time to heal if need be. I've got one more week easy scheduled since IMFL, then I'm going to start hitting it with intervals on the trainer and on the run. Also, time to start knocking down those 100's and 50's in the pool. To me, this is the time to build top end speed and increase FTP before having to build the long slow endurance again. This is the fun time of year!
2016-11-21 12:53 PM
in reply to: 3mar

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Subject: RE: Off-season Depression

Sign up for a New Zealand race

2016-11-21 12:54 PM
in reply to: 3mar

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Subject: RE: Off-season Depression
X1 on above, bunches of 50's and 100's in the pool.
2016-11-21 1:41 PM
in reply to: dandr614

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Subject: RE: Off-season Depression
My favorite thing is to just not have an off-season. :-)

Honestly though, other than ramping up the strength training in the winter months, I try to get in lots of 'fun' races doing things I don't normally do like cyclocross, snowshoe, scavenger hunts, etc. I especially look for things that I can do with my family as the rest of the year they spend so much time supporting me for my major races. Doing a race that they really enjoy is alot of fun and keeps us all together better.

2016-11-21 5:53 PM
in reply to: Jeff B

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Subject: RE: Off-season Depression
I've never been able to afford it but I'd really be motivated to keep in training if I signed up for some sort of mid-winter training camp in Arizona or some other warm place. The peer pressure to show up fit and fear of being dropped would keep me on the trainer and treadmill and in the pool.


2016-11-21 6:38 PM
in reply to: cbrave

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Subject: RE: Off-season Depression
I actually did this even though here, there is no long, dark winter. Signed up for a training camp in Thailand during our Tet (New Years) break. Otherwise it is very difficult, sometimes impossible for me to have pool or gym access here, and at the best of times, there's basically nowhere safe to ride a road bike in Saigon that's even remotely interesting. Figured it would be motivating to have people to train with and somewhere to ride other than my spare room or an industrial park!
2016-11-22 1:01 AM
in reply to: reecealan

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Subject: RE: Off-season Depression
Originally posted by reecealan

If not cycling then pick swim or run as your winter focus and try to improve that.



I think this is great advice. I should be working on my run, but have decided to let an injury heal, and so I find myself leaning toward getting my swimming back to where it was. I've let it slip this last season (probably a full minute slower on 1500m in a 25m pool and even more than that in a 50m pool). When I think about which of the three disciplines I want to do the most, swimming comes to mind right now. I should take advantage of that.

Also, my crazy friend just get selected for the Celtic Xtreme Triathlon (he did the Norseman last year), and he needs someone to do some cold swims with. That also sounds fun to me!
2016-11-23 10:03 AM
in reply to: reecealan

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Subject: RE: Off-season Depression

Originally posted by reecealan
Originally posted by Jeff B Thanks everyone for the input. Reece, that's a great plan. I have not considered focusing on one specific discipline during the winter. Biking is my weakest discipline by far. It appears you use TR based on your comments. Do you follow one of their training plans, or do you choose your own? I would be curious to hear what you do. Thanks. Jeff
Actually I was in a mentor group here a couple years ago and the leaders of that group would post workouts each week. I saved those workouts and have used them each winter. I use Golden Cheetah (a fantastic software and it's free). I don't have a PM but with my KK road machine coupled with the GC software I can get Virtual Power. So I establish my VP FTP in November/December, do the workouts, retest in Jan/Feb then do some more leading up to spring outdoor riding. A typical workout would look like this: 10' warmup build to 65% FTP 5 x [30" at 110% FTP, 30" at 60% FTP] 5' easy at 60% FTP 5 x [2' at 105% FTP, 1' at 60% FTP] 5' easy at 60% FTP 5' at 95% FTP 10' easy at 60% FTP That's a 55 minute workout and is not long enough for you go get too bored. I simply put music on and load the workout into GC so on the monitor it will show when I need to change my power etc.

Reece - Is this the one? I have it marked for myself, if I ever go for a power meter.

http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/discussion/forums/thread-view.asp?tid=507605&posts=1816&page=1

 

2016-11-23 2:42 PM
in reply to: cdban66

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Subject: RE: Off-season Depression
Originally posted by cdban66

Originally posted by reecealan
Originally posted by Jeff B Thanks everyone for the input. Reece, that's a great plan. I have not considered focusing on one specific discipline during the winter. Biking is my weakest discipline by far. It appears you use TR based on your comments. Do you follow one of their training plans, or do you choose your own? I would be curious to hear what you do. Thanks. Jeff
Actually I was in a mentor group here a couple years ago and the leaders of that group would post workouts each week. I saved those workouts and have used them each winter. I use Golden Cheetah (a fantastic software and it's free). I don't have a PM but with my KK road machine coupled with the GC software I can get Virtual Power. So I establish my VP FTP in November/December, do the workouts, retest in Jan/Feb then do some more leading up to spring outdoor riding. A typical workout would look like this: 10' warmup build to 65% FTP 5 x [30" at 110% FTP, 30" at 60% FTP] 5' easy at 60% FTP 5 x [2' at 105% FTP, 1' at 60% FTP] 5' easy at 60% FTP 5' at 95% FTP 10' easy at 60% FTP That's a 55 minute workout and is not long enough for you go get too bored. I simply put music on and load the workout into GC so on the monitor it will show when I need to change my power etc.

Reece - Is this the one? I have it marked for myself, if I ever go for a power meter.

http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/discussion/forums/thread-view.asp?tid=507605&posts=1816&page=1

 




I don't know if you can see my traininglog/dashboard (or whatever they call it ) but I had links to each individual week to avoid having to scroll through the pages

Let me know if you can't see it and want it.
2016-11-28 7:18 PM
in reply to: marcag

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Subject: RE: Off-season Depression
I was just thinking about this topic.

If you concentrate on one discipline during the off season to improve your weakest link (biking for example), do you not run or swim?

If you do not completely stop training during the off-season, but just slow down and/or reduce volume, do you find that you maintain most of your endurance and speed? Or are you just not having to spend as much time getting back to your previous baseline versus if you took that time on the couch?


2016-11-29 7:07 AM
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Subject: RE: Off-season Depression
Can only speak for myself, but since starting tri, I don't think I have completely taken off from any of the three disciplines for more than about three weeks. regardless of training "focus" or lack thereof. And most of those longer breaks were due to traveling and not having access to a pool or my bike or something, not really intentional. I have done a run focus and a bike focus in the off-season, and I still did at least 1-2 workouts of the other disciplines during most weeks. Have pretty much always swum year-round since getting into tri. It's not just a matter of fitness--I hate the way it feels when one gets back to swimming after missing it a while. Just awkward and disconnected. Plus my pool access here is kind of a "use it or lose it" situation. On many days, I'm one of the only people in the pool during faculty swim. If I didn't come for a while, I might find it had been "cancelled due to lack of interest". Probably most people don't have this problem!

As for fitness, yes, definitely much easier to get back in shape than after lying on the couch. (I only do the latter if sick anyway; I would go nuts!) I think I always lose endurance and speed to some extent if I'm not doing a lot of high intensity. Can let you know how much when I do more testing next week--guessing my bike power is back in the toilet. I was up to 214 on the 20-minute test (sounds wimpy, I know, but I am a 115 pound 47 year old woman). Having a hard time imagining I can even hit 180 now--I hope it comes back quickly!

I think it's just what works best with your lifestyle, body, and mentality. If you need a mental break from tri; fine, just keep active at something and try not to put on a ton of weight. If not, choose something to focus on while not letting the others go entirely, or just do a balanced maintenance program with less volume and intensity. In any case accept that you will temporarily lose some fitness. I know for me that the kind of training I need to do to hit my best performances is just not physically or mentally sustainable 12 months a year--I would burn out if I tried that.

Edited by Hot Runner 2016-11-29 7:08 AM
2016-11-29 8:18 AM
in reply to: scottficek

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Subject: RE: Off-season Depression
Originally posted by scottficek

I was just thinking about this topic.

If you concentrate on one discipline during the off season to improve your weakest link (biking for example), do you not run or swim?

If you do not completely stop training during the off-season, but just slow down and/or reduce volume, do you find that you maintain most of your endurance and speed? Or are you just not having to spend as much time getting back to your previous baseline versus if you took that time on the couch?


I always do all 3 but more intensity may be reserved for the one I am focusing on.

For example, I may do 2 hard workouts on the bike, 1 on the swim and everything else easy if I am focusing on the bike. Easy runs, 2 other easy swims.....

I find to stop completely really sets me back, especially for swimming and running.
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