How to enjoy eight weeks of semi-leisure without losing your triathlon fitness... By Phil Mosley
At the end of the triathlon season it’s important to take some downtime, for physical and mental recovery. We do this as part of our triathlon coaching process, to ensure our athletes are fresh and motivated for the new season. Here’s how to enjoy eight weeks of semi-leisure without losing fitness.
5 Ways To Stay Fit in the Off Season
1. Training Volume and Intensity During an end of season break, the idea is to recover while staying fit. Take at least two days off per week but keep training. To help your body recover, perform most of you workouts at a comfortable low intensity and make them slightly shorter than normal. Take advantage of this period by having a sociable run with someone who might normally be too slow for you or by cycling to a coffee shop and back. Once or twice per week, throw in a few bursts of higher intensity just to remind your body that you’re an athlete, so it doesn't de-train too much. This is the perfect opportunity to bring some balance back into your life by investing a little more time into your friends, family and career. You have all winter to train hard, so take advantage of this relatively short recovery period.
2. Strength/Core/Flexibility Many triathletes take advantage of this lull in training to get stuck into some strength, core and flexibility work. It’s a good idea providing you can maintain it throughout the winter and into the race season. There’s no point in doing four weeks of regular core stability training if you then stop completely for six months. The key is consistency, which can be hard to achieve once you’re back into full swim/bike/run training. The best solution is to set a realistic target, rather than an overambitious one. For example, one yoga class per week will gradually improve your flexibility, while a weekly pilates class will provide you with some quality core stability training. Make this a long term commitment, rather than an end of season fad.
3. Off Season Swimming There’s a big technical element to swimming, so it’s important to keep it up during the off-season. Elite swimmers refer to this as “feel for the water” and they have a saying that goes: “Every day missed in the pool takes two to catch up”. As a triathlete it’s not normally feasible to swim every day, but you’ll still need to swim a minimum of two or three times a week to maintain or improve your performances. For this reason it’s worth prioritising regular swimming over cycling and running during this end of season period. This works really well for our triathlon coaching clients. Try this recovery swim session for size:
All at an easy pace: 600 FC, rest 30 secs, 500 PULL BUOY, rest 30, 400 as (25 choice drill, 75 FC) rest 30, 300 as (25 BACK or BREAST, 75FC) rest 20, 200 KICK with FLOAT, rest 15 100 FC
4. Recovery Period Cycling One or two bike rides per week are enough in the off season. There are two types of workouts you might try. The first is a 90-minute to two-hour ride at the weekend. Ride mainly at a steady pace that requires some focus but also allows you to maintain a conversation. Ride with friends or just head out to a coffee shop, stop for a cake and head back home again. The other workout should be a shorter, harder mid-week ride. A static bike or turbo trainer would be ideal for this or you could even do a spinning class. Structure the session as you wish, but the idea is to include 20-30mins of hard cycling into a 45-60minute ride. Here’s an example session for you to try:
Warm Up: 10mins easy, 5mins as (10secs sprint, 50secs easy). Main Set: 7x3mins hard, at your approximate 20-minute race pace, with 90secs rests. Warm Down: 10mins easy
5. Run Training As with cycling, one or two runs are enough during the off season. The first session should be an easy or steady 35- to 45-minute run. During this workout, if you can’t breathe just through your nose, you’re going too fast. The other session to try is a steady run with a few short efforts thrown in. It’s not supposed to be a super hard workout, but it’s enough to stop you losing your fitness. Try this:
Warm Up: 15mins easy/steady Main Set: 15mins as (2mins hard at approx 5k race pace, 60secs jog) Warm Down: 5mins very easy jog
We've had great results from our triathlon coaching clients using this approach. Why not try it yourself?