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.

With Brian Fleischmann.jpg

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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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?

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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.

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