Improving Your Off-Season Plan

I’ve spoken about this topic before. Well, actually I talk about it every year. This is such an important time - The off-season - and it is often overlooked and undervalued. You can't train hard twelve months out of the year. You risk overtraining, burnout, and not getting the full recovery you need both mentally and physically. After a long season of training and racing, this time of year (depending on your long term periodization and racing plan) is critical to ensure that you set the foundation for another good season.

This isn’t to say that you should take two months off. Take too much time off and you risk losing your base fitness, and thus starting your pre-season back at square one.

Two to three weeks of downtime is ideal - but no more than that. Two or three weeks allows you to rest and reenergize yourself without losing your base aerobic fitness. You should follow this period of time with a couple of weeks of unstructured training provided by your coach. What does that mean? For my athletes it means having some programming on the calendar, but you get in training when it’s convenient. A training prescription is provided, but it’s easier workouts designed to get the body moving again, with reasonable volume and intensity.

After this period, you can now look ahead and begin your pre-season training refreshed, energized, and ready for more intensive training. 

Please note that the off-season does not mean there’s no training focus during this time. You might have some goals for volume and perhaps some goals in regards to getting in some additional swimming or cycling sessions. But it’s all pretty low-key. Additionally, have meetings with your coach. Talk about what went right, or wrong, last season, and what you’re both going to do to remediate limiters moving forward. You should be discussing your upcoming season races and goals.  Based on this collaborative discussion, your coach can then look at what the upcoming season looks like and begin creating the high level plan that is required for success.

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This is a great time to lay the physical groundwork for next season.  At the gym, work on strengthening muscle groups that support the prime movers. Look to add strength where needed to facilitate injury prevention when training intensity picks up.

Most importantly you should be taking advantage of this time to work on any deficiencies that you and your coach identify. Were you lacking a little power on the bike? Need to find efficiency in the swim? This is the time focus on remediating these limiters before the season is in full swing.

Improving Running Economy

Improving running economy is a goal of every coach. There are two primary ways to achieve these gains. First, through bio-mechanical efficiency, and second via physiological improvements.

So, how does one begin to find these improvements? Video analysis of running mechanics is the first step. 

Using the video analysis program and tools of choice, you and your coach can look to ensure a number that a number of things are occuring:

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Recovery Smoothie

What better way to recovery after a long ride, or run, than with a protein and good-carb laden smoothie. It's sweet, refreshing, and helps you kick-start your post-workout recovery regime. Great whole-grains, potassium, and quality protein make this our go-to recovery shake or meal replacement. Thanks to JL Fields from the Colorado Springs Vegan Cooking Academy for assisting with all of our upcoming recipes!

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Training and Nutrition

As individuals are now deep into base-building phases, moving on to race-specific training, or in some cases are already beginning their racing season, nutrition is a topic that shouldn't be overlooked in regards to successful triathlon training. Not just race-day nutrition, but your overall nutritional plan.

I'm talking about properly fueling your body to train, recover, and race.  Triathlon training is not a diet. In order to perform at your highest possible level, and reduce the risk of injury, proper nutrition is key.

I hear far too many athletes talk about losing weight, cutting carbs and calories, in an attempt to get to their "race weight". Spoiler alert: I used to be one of them. My worst race of my career was when I weighed the least.  My best race? About 7-8 pounds heavier than what I thought I needed to be. Ah, what a little education can do.

Chances are, as a triathlete (or swimmer, or cyclist) you need more calories than you think each day. A balanced and well thought-out diet includes proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Yes, fats and carbs - don't be afraid of eating healthy fats and good quality whole grain carbohydrates. The percentages of each macro-nutrient will of course change throughout the year as you progress from off-season, to pre-season, and through your race season, but you need all of these macro-nutrients to ensure that you're maximizing the impact of your training and staying healthy.

My education as a triathlon coach, as well as my education in sports and performance nutrition, has really opened my eyes to what a proper pre-season, race-season, and off-season, diet can and should look like. Incorporating a well balanced, whole-food based, nutritionally sound diet during your training is critical. You'll train and recover better, and you'll race better as well.

Questions? I'm happy to help. Jump down to the comments and ask away.

Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes

Tis the season - for over indulgence! Yep, the holidays are fast approaching. And I get it. Thanksgiving is such a great time to be with friends and family. It becomes pretty easy to have that extra glass of wine, and have seconds of your favorite dish. But it's simple to make some smart decisions on your food that day. So get yourself in the kitchen!

Whether you're hosting Thanksgiving, or attending a feast elsewhere, there are some great dishes you can make to ensure you're eating well and not feeling like you're depriving yourself.

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