By: Coach Brittany
Off-season can be a strange time for triathletes. It’s that period sandwiched between your last race of the season and the first build phase of training. Some athletes love it, while others worry about losing fitness. Whether you embrace or resist it, the off-season is crucial for a successful next season. But why do we need it? And how should we tackle it? Read more to find out.
Why we need the off-season
1. Allows our bodies to rest and recover
Our bodies can’t be operating full steam ahead 24/7. It needs time to recover. This extended period of rest will allow our bodies to fully recover and absorb all the training and racing gains from the previous season. In turn, this will set us up for a better and stronger next season.
2. Let’s us mentally and emotionally decompress
Triathlon isn’t just physical. The sport carries a huge mental and emotional side to it. We need a huge amount of mental focus to navigate training in our everyday lives. Grueling training sessions require mental strength, while racing requires both strength and constant focus. On top of the mental side, we have the emotional aspect. No matter the reason for starting, working towards goals and crossing a finish line is equal parts rewarding and emotional. Taking a little break allows you to unplug from the sport, letting you regroup, refocus, and take on the next season happy and motivated.
3. Gives our body time to heal any lingering injuries
High-volume training can put a lot of stress on our bones and soft tissues. Many athletes seek treatment for lingering issues that pop up here and there. Sometimes having a complete rest is what your body needs. This makes the off-season even more important as you can take time off and not worry about losing any fitness.
How to tackle the off-season
1. Take a week or two of complete rest from swimming, biking, and running
Just like training, there is no one-size-fits-all plan for the off-season. If you are a top-end age grouper eying a world championship slot, you might take less of a break than a mid-pack racer just looking to cross the finish line with a PR. With that said, no matter what, everyone should take at least a week or two off from swim/bike/run. After that complete time off you can start to add those sessions back in as you please while you get ready for your first build phase of the new season.
2. Cross-train with other activities
Taking complete time off from swim/bike/run doesn’t necessarily mean you need to lay in bed all day and do nothing. You can take this time to enjoy other activities you might not normally do during the season. This can be any kind of physical activity. It could even be just walking around your neighborhood and enjoying some scenery. That way you keep your body and muscles stimulated but still give it the rest it needs from your normal structured workouts.
3. Spend time doing the things you neglected during your heavy training
Even with balance, triathlon can take up a lot of your free time. Some projects around the house or other activities might have been placed on the back burner. The lighter workload gives you the perfect opportunity to put those back in the limelight and give them some attention. Focusing on these outside activities is a perfect opportunity to reset mentally and enjoy life outside of sport.
Now you have all the facts of why and how to do off-season. Enjoy your time off and reap the benefits as you start your build for the new season.