Tri Coach Tuesday: ‘Off Season’ What Does That Mean?

by Eric Kenney, EK Endurance Coaching

original posting here


Every Fall I talk about the same thing. Over and over. Why? well, people still ask, athletes still don’t know, and every year there are new athletes, new dreams new goals and new ambitions.


I wrote this first article many years ago. I have made some additions and updates, it needs more updates I’m sure. This is the first of three articles and they address what I feel is the most important time of year and the most important training you will do all year!   Every year people ask my clients how they are so strong in spring and how they seem to never burn out, never get injured, and improve every single year.  the next three articles will get you in the right track.

It’s the “Off Season” what do I … not do?

          Article one in our three part series


I get this question often this time of yr. “how do you NOT train?” Especially for the competitive cyclist or triathlete who has been racing all summer, sometimes every weekend, not training hard and racing all the time can feel very strange.

The Off Season: First off I want to stress the word “OFF” in off season. Off means Off! The first and most important aspect of your next season is being totally fresh and completely motivated for next season. Now is the time to start that process.

Less is better here. Catch up on work, family, and drop off the bike at the shop for a tune up. Have them check it over for cracks in the frame along with full safety check. Racing is very hard on your equipment. The key with this phase is to make sure you are 110% ready to start training come the start of your program. The under trained, over motivated athlete will beat the perfectly training under motivated athlete every time! Come the beginning of “base training” you should be itching to train. It should be all you think about, so when its 20 degrees and freezing rain, your pumped up and ready to put in a solid training effort! This is also the best time to sit down with your coach and/or teammates to discus what your goals will be for next year. How did you perform this year? What was good? What was bad? What will have to be different with your preparation for 20, etc


Ok some terms we need to get straight.  “Base” is not a verb. it is not an type of training. it describes a time frame. Some coaches use other terms like foundation phase, etc. so just drop it from your vocab.   “Speed” is also NOT a type of training but lets say it is.  Speed is relative.  Take two athletes, tell them to do “speed work” of their choice and you will see totally different workouts.  I always say “start with the science, then work in the real world, your resources, etc”  What energy zones are you training? What are you focusing on during the training sessions? Are you lactate threshold intervals? VO2 int. tempo (Zone 3) work? what? start there. if you want to call it “speed work”, fine.

Here are several easy steps for an effective off season

  1. Off time: Take an extended time of ZERO training. This will be different for every one. 2 weeks for some, 2 months for others. How ever much time you need to be totally rested and motivated to train again.

2. Recovery: Any lagging injury’s? Bike not working quite right for the last 2 months, been wanting to get that nagging cough looked at. Do it!! Get a massage, go to the doctor, dentist, what ever you need to do to feel 110 percent physically and mentally for the next season. This is active recovery, taking aggressive action towards healing. These are the most important aspects of off season training.

3. Maintenance training: After this you may be ready to train but your program doesn’t start for another month. What to do? Many pro’s and age groupers alike will take part in “unstructured training ”Its best to make is something different than your primary sport, try something new. It will most likely improve some skills needed in your primary sports. Just stay active, (cross training) will maintain your base fitness and, depending on your activity, can address your weakness leaving you fit, motivated and with stronger limiters than you had last year. A perfect way to start your next season!!

4. Cross Train! Go Mt. biking , running, play basketball, tennis whatever you like and have put off  for the past summer. Working on stuff like this will help keep you injury free next year.

5. Most important have fun! Do those old training rides you did when you first started riding. Plan a trip. I have done a few long rides with friends in the fall that have proved to be lots of fun and great endurance training.

Tri Coach Tuesday: Team vs. Individual

by Madeline Pickering


Five Vixxens put their early-season training to the test this past March at Ironman St. George 70.3. With an age group podium, three top-ten AG finishes, and a course PR, race day was a strong start to the season for many on the team. But how did we get there? Early season races are challenging given the winter limitations of riding and running outside and necessary time off after the fall. We spent some time talking to Eric Kenney, the Performance Director of Vixxen Racing and Coach of EK Endurance, about preparing for early season races and the growth of the team.



One of the main things that is different from last year is that there are new athletes that bring up a different dynamic because of their backgrounds and strengths. The team grew this year, so there are a wider range of backgrounds. The veteran athletes have more experience, so they’re approaching St. George with a lot of knowledge from last year. They know that the perfectly mapped out training rarely happens – you’re always having to execute it in the real world – so they’re ready to roll with those unexpected situations.

Also, last year it was snowing, raining, and cold the weekend we tried to do a simulation so we had to do something inside to get some heat. The race ended up being cold and rainy anyway. This year we had good weather and were able to get an outside race prep in.

In terms of the team goals – those were the same. But how we actually implemented them were different because of the weather, timing, and athletes themselves.



We did a brick workout leaving from Tom Watson park in Boulder. I choose a bike route that was hill-heavy towards the end like St, George. It was designed to break the athletes’ rhythm, to force them to change their efforts. I chose that because I wanted them to face those things before the race and get out of their comfort zones. They needed to get used to that varying terrain. The fitness part was secondary – it was more about being prepared for pacing and varied conditions.

One of the things I talk about with race execution on the bike – and in general – is being in control. Everything you’re doing should be on purpose – watts, RPM, nutrition. The route I selected was made to challenge the athletes’ ability to be in control of their effort and pacing. We wanted a distance close to the distance of the race, but also dealing with the options we had. We focused on time instead of distance.

I told the more advanced athletes that the course was shorter than in actually was to throw a wrench in their mental game. We don’t want things like that to get in the way on race day. There are so many variables and if you let those small potential changes get to you, it can throw you completely off.

We followed up with a 4 mile run at race pace. I tracked the athletes’ heart rates to see if there was any cardiac drift. Being in control of their pacing on the bike can help them prevent issues during the run.

The main goal of this workout was to get them mentally prepared for the unique challenges of the St. George course – it’s hilly and can be hot and there is the Snow Canyon climb. Especially for the new athletes, learning to be control in those conditions can be a challenge


Kelly Emich cruising down the race course at St. George 70.3.


We all came together to meet for our race prep workout, but I gave different instructions to athletes based on their experience and fitness. They all rode at their own pace and we met at the end. More advanced athletes were given specific wattage and efforts in different portions of the ride while the less experienced focused on paying attention to controlling effort on the changing terrain.

Each athlete’s race execution comes down to their specific physiology and fitness level and they should treat their training that way. For example, if an athlete is a weaker runner, they need to be more cautious on their exertion on the bike independent of their biking abilities. To be a successful triathlete you have to take into account how each sport affects the others.

After giving individualized instruction, I’m also able to give individual feedback based on an athlete’s heart rate and power data, especially the difference between the bike and run efforts.


Original post from Vixxen Racing here