Yay Tuesday! I love Tri Talk Tuesday and today Cynthia and Phaedra and I are chatting off season. I didn’t have a huge season this year, but that’s okay. For those of you who did have a big season, there are lots of ways to make your off season work for you.
Today Cynthia, Phaedra and I are talking about off season training. Tri season is over here in NY with late September being the tail end of it, and that’s barely it. That’s definitely late season for us northerners. But fall gives way to running season. Fall running *swoon*
Planning for the off season can really go one of a few different ways. Either you have a coach and they feed you workouts based on your goals and you don’t really have to think about what your off season will entail. Or you have a plan that you’re following, like what Cynthia is doing. Or you do what I’m doing and create your own plan.
Part of creating a plan includes focusing on what you learned from your previous season, goals for your upcoming season, considering what needs work, and quite frankly, strength. Off season is a good time to do a ton of strength training that is often lost when in season by triathletes. It’s also a good time to do some speed work, technique and mechanics, and focused blocks of training. Last winter I did a focus on swimming since that’s an area I’m weak in and it paid off for me.
So what should you focus on?
Strength training is crucial to triathletes and to all athletes really. Winter is a great opportunity to work hard on building muscular strength by spending quality time in the weight room, TRX studio, or crushing some machines. Strength training makes you strong, which translates to power, which translates to speed, powering up hills, and some general endurance. It also is a great way to prevent injuries. Two seasons in row I’ve dropped strength training once the weather got nice and two seasons in a row I’ve been injured by fall. Strength training is important. Don’t neglect it, and use the winter as the time to get back at it and make it a healthy habit.
Speed work is another thing that is easy to work in during the winter. I spend a lot of time on a treadmill in the winter and it’s when I do the majority of my speed work. The treadmill may be boring, but when you can set the speed and create workouts on it, it’s sooooo easy to do speed work. The treadmills at my gym allow you to create custom workouts, so I do tons of interval training. Tempo runs are made easier too if you’re aiming for a specific pace for a certain amount of time or distance, just set and forget it. It’s just too easy not to take advantage of. I also have access to an indoor track too, so I really have no excuse in this department.
Focused training blocks are pretty common during the off season. Last winter I did about a three month block of time where I focuses almost exclusively on my swimming. I tightened up my form and swam thousand and thousands of yards of drills. And this summer I swam the best I ever have in races and saw some speed improvements. And while my OWS skills still need work, I’m planning on hitting the pool hard for another swim focus at some point this winter. It’ll be more difficult for me since I can no longer swim with my tri club in the mornings, but I still get the workouts, just have to do them solo. So be it. You can also do a run block or a cycling block of training. Hit the trainer, hit the roads and treadmill, and focus on what you need to work on.
Technique and mechanics can be a little tricky if you live somewhere with harsh winters like I do, but it’s still something you can work on. I’ll be working on my swim techniques and mechanics more this winter. My left elbow is lazy and I don’t rotate enough through my stroke. I know I need to work on these things and I will. Running form or bike handling, which would both fall under this category, are a little more difficult if you’re stuck inside most days. But if you can run outside or on an indoor track, you can definitely work on some running form and drills. You can do some form work on a treadmill, but the belt will still cause some gait change no matter what. My average stride length on a treadmill is significantly longer than when I run outside, for example. But you can still put the work and effort in and it will make a difference.
So what’s in store for me and my off season plan? I’ll be working on my swimming technique some, but mostly I’ll be focused on rebuilding my base after being injured for a few months now. Lots of strength training and lots of speed work on my run. Other than that, I’m leaving myself open and flexible. I’m not entirely sure what my goals for next year are yet, which is causing me some anxiety, so I’m aiming to keep my plan flexible, fluid and dynamic and easy to change on a dime.
Favorite way to get your sweat on during the winter?
What’s your plan for a winter training plan?
Feel free to shoot me an email if you need some coaching advice or an off season plan. I can help you make your off season successful!
**The next Tri Talk Tuesday will be on November 3, 2015! The theme is Cycling Training, so get ready to spill all your 2015 race plans!