Once a triathlete always a triathlete
by WeeMan Sep 29th 2012
Even in the off season you're still a triathlete...
After a long hard season of meticulously ticking off each session from the training plan and faithfully keeping track of time, distance, heart rate, power, etc, the off season is a great time to break free from the shackles of such discipline. It's also a good time to address any issues you may have been struggling with during the season. So for me, it's still important to set some goals for the off season rather than just let it drift by. Mine for this year are as follows:
1) Take two months 'off'
I've raced through on and off seasons for the past four years. This year I decided that I really needed an off season, when I would disengage my brain from the routine of training and focus it on other aspects. The important aspect here is to define the off period, just like a period in a training plan.
2) Fix my niggles
I've been struggling with a hamstring / glute issue for several years and while physio, osteo and massage have meant it's not slowed me down, I know I need to do some strength training to sort it out. This is my first niggle to fix. My second it a shoulder issue that's flared up out of nowhere this season. The third, and probably more ambitious relates to my poorly toes, which I think will always be so, although if I can find a way to reduce the post long run pain I would be very happy.
3) Spend more time with family and friends
This one is more difficult to measure and success is probably best measured by asking them directly. We all know that being partner or family to a triathlete is a tough deal and one which means lots of give and less take. The off season is a good time to pay back some of that support and good will. I know my family have been through the season pretty much as I have so spending some time with them is what I owe them.
4) Stay in 'shape'
Going from 16+ hours of training per week to six is undoubtedly going to have an impact on how your body feels. During the off season gaining a few pounds is not a problem, I find it helps me to attack the new season with even more focus. Having a goal of doing at least 5 hours of 'activity' per week helps me to keep focus and the right mindset to avoid going completely off the deep end. I recently read an article by Chris Carmichael who said that during the off season cyclists lost up to 20% of their power just by doing nothing. For me, and I guess many other triathletes in the habit of focused training, knowingly losing fitness and gaining weight is not easy to accept. But I know it's part of the long term plan.
So the off season is a great time to get away from the day to day of being a triathlete, sort out injuries, catch up on jobs and with friends and family. Just make sure it has a start and an end and during the time you don't forget that you're still a triathlete!
Triathlon has taught me a lot, not least just how true to life is the phrase from Henry Ford - "Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right". I was a competitive swimmer who became a triathlete and moved from sprint to Iron distance. As I've got older balancing family and work with training and racing has had its challenges. What gets me to the start line ready to go is always the belief that I can. I hope you enjoy reading my musings.