Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Off Season Training for Triathlon

Contributed by: Eric D’Arcy, Multisport Coach at Absolute Endurance Training and Therapy

As I started to write this, there was an unusual chill in the air, and then I realized that there are only a few weeks left in the Canadian triathlon season....eek, it can’t be, it seems like it just started last week.  Yes, these are the words uttered by many, if not all, triathletes at this time of the year.  But that’s okay, because it will give us a chance to regroup, refocus and get our energy back to face the next season.
The off season is a time of mixed emotions.  It’s a time when we wish we could continue racing and focus on hard training, but it’s also time when we can analyze our past season and say “That was amazing!” or “I am going to focus on improving this sport” or “Now I can spend some quality time with friends and family.”

So what do you do now?  Now is a time to take a well-deserved break from not only the intensity of racing, but the build you did into the race season and for some of you, that may have started last December. This is a great time to relax, sleep, catch up and spend time with your friends and family, who supported you through your season, or who (not necessarily on purpose) got ignored.  This doesn’t mean sitting on the couch for the next 5 months with a bag of chips and catching up on your favourite shows (although a bit of that would be good for you), but it does mean minimizing the number of hours training.  It’s time to get out there and do something different.  Go hiking, try yoga or a Pilates class, do a short distance fun run (start by checking out Get Out There's calendar for upcoming races in your area), go for a non-structured bike ride with the family in the country to watch the leaves change.  As the snow starts to come down, go skiing, snowboarding, skating or snowshoeing. 
Work on your weakness(es).  The off-season is a great time to focus on your technique, be it for swimming, biking or running. Don’t feel you have to swim big distances, work on getting that technique down instead.  Short technique/drill based sessions in the pool will give you bigger gains at this time, rather than putting in big distance with a sloppy stroke.  Have your run gait analyzed by a qualified person.  Working on a more efficient stride and higher cadence, will not only give you a faster run, but could minimize the chances of injury.  For biking, more time in the saddle at a lower intensity, working on pedalling technique and/or cadence work may be the answer.  This may also be the time you want to get a bike fit done at a reputable bike fitter or bike shop. 

Get pumped up!!! This is a great chance to get into the gym and do some strength training.  Now I'm not talking Arnie style here, but specific triathlon strength training, that will build the muscles that you are using, especially your core, which will help you swim smoother, stand taller and drive those legs on the run, and, hold a better position and breathe better while in your aero bars.
Plan, plan, plan!  Now is the time to plan out your next season’s racing schedule.  Maybe this is the year you plan on attempting a new distance, more races or going for gold!  Put a good plan in place, generally with shorter races leading up to your bigger distances.  This could also be the season where you find a coach who can not only help you plan your season, but help you achieve your goals in a strategic, logical and safe way. Not only do you want to work on your race season, but take a look at the often overlooked nutrition plan.  I'm not talking only your race day nutrition, but your day-to-day nutrition that helps build you into the machine you are or want to be.  For this, I recommend finding a good nutritionist who understands you and the sport.

Whatever your off-season plans are, relax and enjoy....Now, I think this is the season I FINALLY learn to snowboard!

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