Off-season training is important to setting up your next season. It’s about balancing some time-off, not losing to much fitness, and looking to improve some weaknesses.
When does the off-season begin? Generally the off-season begins after your last A race/event of the season. For me the off-season began after the Hartford Marathon on October 12th, 2013. With the weather reasonably warm in October I generally try and keep up my training for the month. Living in New England your off-season will be forced upon you from December to March. The limited daylight hours are a big piece of this as well.
Since the marathon I have taken some time-off from training. As mentioned in previous posts I prefer not to take off much time but rather to move forward and cut the training back. I was scheduled to do a 1/2 marathon in the beginning of November but because of a minor injury and feeling burned out I backed out.
I do find that my off-season training is more focused during the week while the weekend’s are a time to relax and maybe get in a short workout if I am in the mood. For example, the last three weeks I have woken up both Friday and Saturday with sore legs. During the season It’s always Monday and Tuesday as recovery training days.
So what is my off-season focus?
- Strengthening my legs
- Riding my tri-bike on the trainer
- Strengthening my core
In previous years I have put on 10 pounds in the winter. I would lose the first 5 or so in the month of April when training picked up and then would take the next 2-3 months to lose that last 5. This winter I am trying to eat healthier without dieting. I have cut out bagels all-together for breakfast and focused on eating oatmeal or eggs. I am working on going to a more low-fat diet as well. It’s really important I don’t put on more than 5 pounds or so this winter because of my early season Ironman in May.
For the last few years I have been in denial about how weak my legs are. I understand I am built for distance but I am not able to hold certain speeds as long as I want to. I have a flat 30 mile training course in New Hampshire that I trained on about 10-15 times this year and was only able to hold 22-23 mph. I find once I get to 24+ mph I can’t hold it for long. I need to improve on this. So I am spending a lot of time this winter doing a full leg workout once a week. I am not looking to put on size but really improve the strength in my legs. I am on the fence on how I plan to incorporate this into my in-season training. More than likely I will cut back on the weight I am lifting and doing this right after the weekend so I am recovered in time for the weekend.
I need to get comfortable on my triathlon bike. I admit I shouldn’t have taken this bike to Ironman. I wasn’t prepared to sit in the TT position for more than 40 minutes at a time. I plan to have this bike on the trainer all winter and work on sitting in this position for a few hours at a time. I also think I may need to get another fitting because I am not comfortable in it. I will play with the position for the next several weeks to see where the problem is. There is a chance I don’t take my Triathlon bike to Texas in May if I am not ready.
I am finally getting back into lifting on a regular basis. I am working on doing each body part once a week. I started out doing about 10-12 sets per body part and working on improving this to 12-15. Overall as mentioned above I need to strengthen my legs so I plan on doing about 15-20 sets of quads. I am a big fan of super setting body parts. So I do two body parts together and don’t really take much of a break between sets. For example, I will do a set of quads on say the leg press then immediately head over and do a set on my calves. Then I will head back and do another set of quads. I try and do 12 repetitions for each set.
I realized my core is fairly weak. I had planned to work on my abs about once a week but realize now I need to focus on this two times a week until I feel improvements. This workout is fairly quick but it’s vital to have a strong core. I am still researching on improving this so if you have some ideas let me know.
I do still spend the majority of my time running on the treadmill doing intervals or spending a few hours a week on the stationary bike. But it’s really important to work on weaknesses in the off-season to set myself up for a busy 2014 race schedule. One important thing to note is while lifting I don’t spend more than a total of 20 minutes on the two body parts. The exception is the legs. I specifically do a separate evening one hour workout. It’s important to focus only on the legs for this workout and not feel rushed to get out.
It may seem that the off-season is only beginning but my 2014 season is right around the corner. My first race of the season is a 1/2 marathon and is 3 months from today, my first 1/2 Ironman (this is tentative as of now) is only 135 days away, and my first (second overall) Ironman of the year is only 176 days away. So much for an off-season!!!!!
I have found that Pilates helps build core strength. I probably started too late in summer for a real benefit this year, but plan to keep up a weekly session through winter.
I too am sitting my tri bike in the turbo & riding in aero position as much as possible. I did have a bike fit just need to practise & do it more 🙂
Good luck with off season. I also have gained 10lb since my A race in Sept. But holding steady now and will drop as training increases
I have been using a workout plan from Joe Friel’s Cyclist’s Training Bible. There is an adaption, build and then maintenance phase. The book is always on the corner of my desk, but if you want to take a look at it let me know.
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