Most triathletes have a long season of training and racing and after the last big race, you hopefully took a nice break. I like my athletes to take 2-3 weeks of unstructured movement. No scheduled swim bike run in Training Peaks, no need to turn workouts green. Some of my athletes go crazy, they simply want to wake up and see Training Peaks workouts and others are so relieved to see nothing pop up. I find after a few weeks most are itching to get back to routine and this is where it can be a lot of fun.
I shy away from traditional triathlon training during these months to keep the athlete engaged and fresh. I like to address the three following areas:
a. This is the time to work on imbalances, test your single-legged squat, deadlift and bosu ball work and see which leg needs work, I guarantee one leg is better than the other. Work both legs but add 20% to the “weaker” leg.
b. Get strong. Track your squats, deadlifts and big muscle group exercise and push the max. You will be sore (yes, sore) but this is the time of year to do that, without a long run on the schedule or hard bike sessions you can and should be sore.
c. Let the strength dictate biking and running efforts.
d. Do a Functional Movement Screening and find your weakness, imbalances. Pay the money to get the correctional exercises and add those to your daily routine.
2. Address your weakness
Most of us want to do more in the sports where we are strong. While that is fun, is it what you need? This is the time to do a swim, bike or run block. Here are a few blocks I have given athletes:
a. Swim Block: 3 weeks with a minimum of 25K per week. I give them workouts that range from 4-7,000 and let them choose how to get to 25k. Some will do 10k one day and take a day off, others prefer 3,500 each day, some do 2 workouts a day. By week 2, the fatigue sets in and generally by week 3 they start to see some real gains. We keep Strength as #2 priority and biking and running take a back seat.
b. Bike Block: 3 weeks with a goal of 200-300 miles per week depending on the athlete, their available time and weather. I mix in a few harder efforts, which are optional based on how they are feeling, the bigger mileage is attainable when they can knock out 1-2 long rides outside. Again, strength is #2 priority and swim and run take a back seat.
c. Run Block: 3 weeks for this block which will vary depending on the athlete, their goals, durability, and base. The focus is 3 weeks of running 6 days a week building mileage each week. For some, the goal may be the 30/40/50-miles week, others it may be hitting key runs 2-3 times a week and then the rest is base running. The running carries the biggest risk of injury so be careful.
3. 15 hours in 3 days. This is a fun one!
1-hour swim, 3-hour bike, 1-hour run – 3 days consecutively. Determining if this is aerobic or has specific pace, HR, power efforts will depend on the athlete and current fitness.
There are many, many ways to gain fitness, have fun and be ready for race season. These are just a few I like. My #1 goal for the off-season is DON’T GET INJURED and #2 DON’T gain more than 5% of your bodyweight. A few pounds are okay and likely a good idea if you race lean, but not any more. than that.