Your first season as a triathlete just ended and you are wondering what you should be doing now. Most athletes seem to fall into one of two categories. There are those athletes who raced a lot and now think they are ok to rest until next January when they plan to pick up training again. But then there are those who are very motivated to continue training hard to try and improve for next season already. These two extremes both do a disservice to their bodies and minds. The athlete who continues to train will most likely experience problems with motivation once February rolls around. The body and mind can not handle year round stress before going into a state of overtraining. The athlete who takes 3 months off can suffer a 20% reduction in their power/pace at lactate threshold. In order to prevent these two situations from happening here are some recommendations for the next month or two.
Unstructured time off
- During the fall I recommend that an athlete take at least 2 weeks of unstructured training. It is important for athletes to take a break mentally from the 3 sports. Maintaining fitness is important but I personally take time to enjoy activities that I don’t get to do as much of during the season like hiking, rock climbing, ultimate frisbee, or basketball.
- Get into the gym and work on your strength. This area is often times ignored by triathletes but is vitally important, especially for aging triathletes. Muscular strength, power and endurance can be improved through strength training. When an athlete is able to increase the force at a given speed and able to sustain that over a given period of time then the athlete will find improved results due to reduced fatigue.
- Get on the trail. In my opinion, there is no better way to build leg strength than by running or riding off road. It is also good for your knees to take a break from the pounding on the pavement.
Focus on technique
- This is the time of the year where you should spend time improving your form in the three sports. High cadence spinning, especially one legged drills, or kicking in the pool are examples of skill development exercises. Get your stroke looked at by a coach or better yet get videotaped. The video will show you all the imperfections in your stroke. You might think you aren’t dropping your elbows as you pull through your swim stroke but the video doesn’t lie. It will most likely validate what your coach has been telling you for the past few months.
With these three suggestions in mind you should be able to not only maintain your fitness through the fall right into base building season but also improve your overall fitness with superior form and strength.