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.

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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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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Training Nutrition Facts and Fiction

Some time ago, I wrote an article about how training for a triathlon was not a diet. There's a fine line between maintaining a healthy training and racing weight and an unhealthy weight. And this topic is gender neutral. Men and women alike are equally susceptible to an unhealthy diet and nutrition plan whilst training for an endurance event. 

Using myself as an example, my worst race occurred when I weighed the least. It was very early in my triathlon 'career', and I was at a goal weight which I though would help me perform better. In truth I was under-weight, as I was spurned on by all they hype around "getting lean" and "losing an extra few pounds for the next race".

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