Fall is clearly here in the Northeast and Winter is right around the corner. What should you do with your triathlon training for the next 3-4 months? You’ll here this time period referred to as “Off season”, “out season”, “base training season” and probably a myriad of other names.
So what’s the best way to spend your Off Season Triathlon Training time?
“Off Season” is typically a time of change in focus, transition or a switch to another sport altogether. What you ultimately do depends on your goals for next year. If you have an early season A race (April or May), then you should be embarking on your training preparation soon…starting within the next few weeks. If your A race is not until July or August, then you have some additional time to work on other non-triathlon focuses, or weaknesses in your triathlon training.
There are two general ways I see triathletes approach the “off season” and I think both ways are acceptable. What you choose to do depends entirely upon your weaknesses, strengths, motivations and goals.
Option 1: Spend the Fall & Winter Working on your Weaknesses
The first approach is to work on your weaknesses. So if you did your first sprint triathlon this past summer and ended up walking most of the run, or run/walk more than you wanted to, you might consider running your weakness. A great “off season” training objective would be to increase the frequency of your running in order to get your body more accustomed to it, and improve your running economy. If you are currently (or were, during your traiing) running twice a week, add one run a week for the next four weeks. If that goals well, add another run so you are up to four runs per week. If you are already doing four runs per week, a nice way to add more run frequency is to do a short 10-15 minute transition run after one of your bike workouts.
A great way to sneak in extra running for time crunched people is to do a bike trainer workout in the morning before work, then immediately change into running shoes and run for 10-15 minutes, focusing on the feeling in your legs and trying to get your torso straightened out, and extending from the hips. Basically unfolding yourself from your bike workout. 10-15 minutes is enough. Shower and go to work. Then sneak in another short run at lunchtime or after work. This adds run frequency without placing a significant demand on your time or your body.
If swimming is your weakness, spend time working on balance and body position in the water. A few swimmign lessons are typically time and money well spent for the triathlete with a 100yd time around 2 minutes or more. Then it’s a matter of practice. Get in the water and swim, constantly revisiting your form and technique.
if you consider biking your weakness, then consider yourself lucky. Biking requires far less technique than either running or swimming. When biking is your weakness, its usually a low threshold power that is keeping you back. I’ll have more posts soon about winter biking plans as well as an off season plan that will be very affordable and can be done on a trainer
Option 2: Spend the winter Raising your Threshold
Above I mentioned that there were two ways I see triathletes approach the off season, with the first being to focus on your weaknesses. The second is a variation of the first and I alluded to it above.
Spend the winter months focused on increasing your threshold power on the bike. This is such a great time to build up your power, when the demands of training are not present, your A race is far away and you can spend time doing short hard workouts on your trainer either before work or before dinner.
This is a really exciting way to get better quickly at the discipline that many new triathletes take for granted. a high threshold power on the bike goes a long way in improving your run off the bike. Focusing on an off-season triathlon biking plan will make you a faster triathlete come next season.
Stay tuned for my off -season triathlon bike training plans coming soon. Mix and match with a running or swimming plan and you’ll be blazing fast 3 months from now.
If you have any questions about off season triathlon training, please leave a comment for me below. Thanks!
In your option 1, why do you automatically assume that running would be someones weakness because they weren’t able to run the whole way when it is the last leg. Perhaps they wouldn’t have been able to complete the swimming or cycling legs if it were the last leg and they would have done just fine with running as an earlier leg of the Tri.
Hi John, thanks for bringing up a great point. If you can’t complete the run at the end of a triathlon, it could reflect several different things, including poor bike fitness. Nailing down where your strengths and weaknesses are in each discipline is key, especially what sort of performance you are capable of doing two events in a row. Comparing open run times (e.g. 5k or 10k) with triathlon run legs can help you narrow down where you need the most work.