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Getting Started After a Period of Time-Off

For most of us in the northern hemisphere, the holidays are over, the offseason has ended and it’s now officially time to get back to work and start preparing for those ambitious goals we set for ourselves a few months ago. 

For most of you training for half and full distance triathlons, you most likely have at least one of these on your calendars already and you are probably itching to get back to a routine and hitting those power and pace numbers that you were used to a few months ago.

My overarching advice to you is DON’T! Well I don’t mean don’t get back to work. What I mean is don’t try and rush the process so you are hitting those numbers too soon.  To sum it up in a phrase, “DON’T BE A JANUARY CHAMPION!”  

Building back your fitness will take time and patience. Before you rush right back into those intervals that had you leaving puddles of sweat on the floor, take some time to build your aerobic capacity and your sport specific functional strength. Now is the time where you want to establish a routine, slowly building back to the volume needed for your next goal event. 

So think of this phase in your training as “TRAINING TO TRAIN.” Ever built a house or know how it's done? You can’t build the walls if you don’t have a foundation. You can’t pour a foundation if you don’t dig the hole. This is the time we dig the hole preparing the ground so the foundation can be poured and the house can be built. 

So how do we go about doing this? As a general rule of thumb start at 50% of what you were used to doing at your previous peak and only add 10-15% week over week until you are at your target volume and then and only then do we begin to add the higher HR intensity at that point.. 

So are we only doing long slow easy work during this period? Well not exactly. While the low HR intensity work necessary for aerobic development will make up approx. 80% of your volume during this period, it is good to start recruiting some strength in each sport while working on those motor patterns and overall skill development. This can be slightly bigger gear intervals at a lower cadence on the bike, paddle buoy band work in the pool, and short incline repeats on the treadmill. The stair climber mill at your local gym is a fantastic tool as is the step-up platform and the floor in your home for plank varied core exercises. It does not need to be long and complicated, it just needs to be deliberate and purposeful. 

There is no one size fits all approach and it will vary depending on the length of break and the experience level of the athlete. But make no mistake as one thing is for sure, rushing this process will leave you burned out at best, injured at worst. If there was ever a time to apply the “LESS IS MORE” approach, it is now.  

Don’t have a coach? Get one!  We can be our own worst enemy especially this time of year. Let the expertise of a qualified coach help you achieve your goals in 2024.


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