Triathlon is a tough sport and with that, comes a lot of emotions, excitement, nerves and joy. However, these emotions aren’t always positive and when the season is over and the racing stops, you can be left feeling de-motivated and lethargic without another event to look forward to and build up to.
Because of this, it’s important to try and shift your focus away from the lack of races and instead focus inward, work on yourself and put yourself in the best position to take on the next season. The off-season can be just as important as the training you do during the season, so check out some of our tips below to see how you can maximise your time between triathlon seasons.
Rest and recovery is important to help you reset after the race season. It's common to feel mentally and physically fatigued after a long season of racing, so make sure you're getting enough sleep and taking time off from your training. Through the season you will have put your body through a great amount of strain in both training and racing making it crucial to ensure that you take some time off to really focus on your recovery. This will let you hit the ground running when it comes to the winter training period and set you up nicely for the next season.
Cross training is a broad term that refers to any form of exercise that isn’t your key sport. So, when it comes to triathlon, cross training means anything that isn’t swimming, cycling or running. This could be weightlifting, yoga, hiking or anything else that gets your heart rate up and gets you moving. Athletes will use cross training as a way to prevent overtraining from doing the same type of exercise over and over again.
Cross training can be highly beneficial for increasing muscle mass, bone density and aerobic capacity, all while treating you to something different. It’s also a great opportunity to try a new sport with your friends!
Reflect and plan
Looking back at the past season can be helpful when looking forward to the next one. You may have had a breakthrough in your training or a particularly strong race performance so make sure you acknowledge these achievements. At the same time, it’s important to think about what didn’t go so well or to plan so you can know what to do differently next year.
For example, if you had injuries or illnesses that affected your training, think about how you may prevent them in the future by making small changes to your day to day, like drinking more water and stretching every day.
After some reflection, it’s time to plan for the season to come. Set yourself some goals and have a think about what you can do to achieve those goals. Consider how much time you’ll want to train per week and you can start pulling together a training plan.
Build the base
Winter is the perfect time to build a solid aerobic base. Once you’ve given yourself a bit of time off to recover, it’s time to get back on the horse (or bike!) and start building back up again. In the off-season, speed isn’t important. The important thing is the time that you’re spending training and working on your aerobic base fitness.
On top of the cardiovascular benefits that base fitness brings, it will also help you deal with injuries and ensure that come race season, you’ve got the energy reserves and endurance to push yourself further and faster when it matters.
Check your gear
The winter months are often when athletes will cover the vast majority of their annual mileage and combined with the change in weather, this can take a toll on your equipment. Take stock of all your gear (bike, wetsuit, running shoes, etc) and check to see what condition it’s all in. A clean bike is a fast bike and much like the rest of your gear, the most you look after it, the longer it will last.
If you take the time to check on all your gear and make sure it’s all in good, working order, you could save yourself some hassle when the season starts and you suddenly realise that your wetsuit has a hole in it or your bike chain is rusted!
Take care of yourself
And while you’re taking stock and checking things, why not take the same care with yourself. While your body is able to put up with a lot of strain and pressure, it definitely needs some TLC every now and then. So when you’ve got the free time that comes with off-season, try and focus on looking after yourself. We don’t just mean take care of yourself physically with things like stretching and eating well, as it is just as important to look after your mental health.
Make the most of your time off by spending some quality time with your friends and family. Many athletes will stop drinking in the run up to an event, so head to the pub and grab a glass of wine or a pint with your pals for a long-overdue catch up!
Please note: your chances of picking up a cold will increase by 80% during the winter period so it’s inevitable that you may get sick and have to miss a few sessions. Don’t be too hard on yourself and embrace these breaks. Nurse yourself back to health and then get back to it!