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.

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 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.

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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:

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The Upcoming Off-Season

It's October, and for many the racing season is coming to a close. Coaches are starting to look at the off-season training of their athletes, and how best to ensure that everyone enters the upcoming season refreshed, and with the best preparation possible.

For many athletes, their primary question is: "What do I do during the off-season?"

The off-season is an overlooked, and undervalued, part of your training periodization. You’ve raced and trained hard all season.  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 to start the next season fresh.

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 great.  You can rest, and reenergize yourself, without losing your base aerobic fitness. You should follow this period of time with two to three weeks of unstructured training provided by your coach. Then you can begin your pre-season refreshed, energized, and ready for more intensive training. 

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