The Off-Season

It's almost upon us. The off-season. And unfortunately a lot of athletes don't know what they should be doing between their final "A" race of the season, and when they need to pick themselves up and start serious training again. 

I've written about the off-season before. You can read that blog post here. But I'll summarize, and add to it, today. So, what should you do when your season is over?

  • Take some time off. Two to three weeks is great. You need to rest, recovery, and refresh yourself physically and mentally.
  • After that down-time, do some unstructured training. Hit the trails, do some things you don't usually do. Go snowshoeing or hit the gym a little more. Start getting back in the pool and keeping that feel for the water.
  • Have meetings with your coach. What went right, and wrong last season? What are the goals for next season?

My previous post on the topic discusses more of these points in detail, but today I'm going to really talk about that last bullet point. 

With Brian Fleischmann_small.jpg

As you and your coach look back on the previous year of racing and discuss what went right, and wrong, it's time to focus on what needs to be remediated. The off-season is the time to focus on your limiters. Not enough power on the bike? Strength work and power workouts. Swimming isn't where you want it to be? Add extra sessions and work on form and mechanics (or whatever is necessary). Look at your benchmark testing (power, VO2, base 100 times) and determine what needs to be addressed over the winter. Those goals your'e going to discuss? They might have a lot to do with what is worked on during this period.

Yes you can work on things during the season itself. But the remediation of limiters - depending on what is being worked on - can take time. Swimming especially. It's best to work on what needs to be resolved (and continue to develop strengths) before the racing season begins. 

The Challenges Of Being An Age-Group Triathlete

It's been a great season for our athletes. PR's, podium finishes, a trip to World Championships in Canada. I'm a proud of the effort and dedication my athletes have put forth.

Yet for some it's been an interesting season. Work and life are providing all the challenges they need. And that's the interesting part of being an age-group athlete. Best laid plans are often disrupted. And I'm not even talking about the potential for an injury.

One of our higher performing athletes is active duty in the Coast Guard. Just as our training was hitting a high note, and some key races were fast approaching, he'd receive orders to be away for two weeks. Okay, we adjusted. Then he was deployed to Houston to help deliver aid after the hurricane. You can't argue with that. But suddenly the training is on hold, and the season is completely upside down.

Another athlete had some new job responsibilities added to her plate. You know, a conference call with an east-Asian office on Thursday nights at a god-awful time. So Friday AM sessions are out. So we adjust the week around. But those new responsibilities sometimes mean longer days. Workouts are missed. Okay, we adjust again. But getting momentum and regularity was a challenge. Target races are rescheduled. 

And how about a new addition to the family? That will assuredly add to the stress of scheduling workouts while balancing life at home. Add to that some extra work thrown into the mix, and races have to be skipped as preparations just couldn't be accomplished. An Xterra Pan-Am qualifier last year had a heck of a time getting in one Xterra race this year.

Balancing life and work and training. That's part of being an age-group athlete. Dealing with conflicts and changes to schedules creates the need to be flexible on all fronts - for both athlete and coach alike. But it can be difficult to digest and process at the time.

It's easy to give up and say "well, this season is over", but it doesn't have to be that way. Keep your focus. Find alternatives. Change your "A" race (as annoying as that may be). Explore other racing options like targeting a mountain bike enduro instead of letting all the Xterra prep go by the wayside. Easier yet, choose a shorter distance target race. You can't get in the training hours necessary for an Ironman? Find a 70.3 instead. Or even an Olympic distance race. True it might be your ultimate goal, but move that target to next season. You have myriad options available to you.

It's not all or nothing, and that's important to keep in mind. Work with your coach to find alternatives and adjust training and racing schedules to accommodate changes as they arise. You can find a new goal to keep driving you through this season and into the next.

Equally as important: Utilize your coach during this process. That is part of our job after all. Being a coach requires not only understanding the training that's necessary for the athlete, but it requires that we be a sounding board. We're here to  listen to you, the the athlete, and help you navigate the options available to still have a successful season no matter what is thrown your way.

 

Performance Improvements and Success Stories

Recently I've written a couple of blog posts discussing the importance of improving athlete limiters and the proper development of energy systems. The goal being to ensure not only the improvement of said limiters of an athlete but to further develop their strengths as well. With that in mind I thought it was time that we highlighted a few of our athletes here at Podium Training Systems to show not only the scope of racing that happens amongst our athletes, but also the type of improvements and success they've had and how we achieved those gains.

I reached out to a small number of my athletes to see if they would be willing to share their experiences over the past season or two and provide me with what they felt were their biggest improvements.

Read More

The Importance Of The Swim

I hear a lot of people (coaches and athletes alike) state: "You can't win a triathlon in the swim, but you can lose one in the swim". 

I've heard numerous athletes declare: "I just need to survive the swim".

I disagree with both statements. As a coach these are the first things, should an athlete of mine say such a thing, that we remove from the conversation. You can indeed win a triathlon by having a good swim. Just as you can win it by having a good bike, or run. But you have to be strong across all the disciplines to ensure that your good swim effort holds up at the end. 

Just surviving the swim? That's a great way to lose time, waste energy, and ensure you have a harder bike and run leg than is necessary.

Read More

On Writing Workouts

During all of my various coaching certification clinics the discussion around the creation of workouts was covered in detail. The main points of interest?

  • Specificity
  • Energy systems
  • Athlete understanding of goals of workout

Of course the importance of a good warm up, cool down, and dynamic stretching, was covered as well.

Let me clarify: Did we cover 'everything' in granular detail? No. You can't cover everything in a weekend-long clinic. You need to continue your education beyond the initial course. But, all that said, the three points above have been resonating with me lately. Why?

I'm seeing too many triathlon coaches prescribe workouts that have no specifics around energy systems, and no way for the athlete to know what the goal of the workout is. In some cases guaranteeing that the athlete do nothing but train their body to run long and slow on race day. A couple of examples that I've seen (posted online) lately:

Read More