Coach Neil’s Blog: The Off Season, Part 1

For most of us the triathlon season in northern Minnesota is behind us. We are 2 to 4 weeks into that period loosely know as the “Off Season”. Just what is this off season and what am I expected to do here? It seems like you just finished with all that focused training and now the coaches are telling you that you need to stay focused? Well not really. The first part of the off season is time for Recovery, Reacquaintance and Reflection.

RECOVERY:
Deep Recovery, is the physical, mental, and emotional relief from all the stress you have placed on yourself for the past six to eight months. Sleep in longer. Stay away from watches and gages, even tri bikes, lap pools, and running on tar. For two to six weeks place your focus on recovery and easy workouts. This is the time to cross train. Mountain bike, kayak, trail run, rollerblade, tennis, golf, just stay active and have fun.

REACQUAINTANCE:
It is time to get reacquainted with your family, friends, work, and other things you have put somewhat or completely aside. I like to call this Social Recovery. This might count for more than any other kind of recovery. Go out and have coffee with your friends. Have dinner out without paying attention to nutrition or calories.

REFLECTION:
While you are in this early off season it is time to reflect on the past season. Did you set goals at the beginning of the past season? If you did, go over them now and evaluate your results. If you didn’t then go over your season race by race or month by month and take a analytical look at how you did. Did you meet your expectations, were you happy with how you did? What was the best achievement this year and what accounted for it? What was your biggest setback and how could it have been avoided? Don’t just focus on race results–look at training also. From the answers you find you will start to get a picture of where you want to move forward toward next season.

How much should you cut back at this phase of training? The main advice is 50% of your normal training week during peak training time. You might want to go less than that for a week or two just after your ‘A’ race. You shouldn’t go under 5 hours per week for more than a week, maybe two, even if you are coming off a Ironman.

Once you have achieved a modest assessment of your season, you have been able to sleep 8 hours in a row for three nights in a row, and you can remember all your kids names, it is time to move on to the next phase of the off season: Weakness Focus.

More on this next time.

For now have a great early off season. I will be thinking of you over coffee. Don’t let the easy workouts cause you any stress. This time is well deserved and necessary.

Neil

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