Our specialised blogs last year were a huge hit with our members. Accredited Triathlete, Triathlon Coach and Exercise Physiologist at SportsCare Canberra Dave Halpin has returned to share his best tips, tricks and a small program, for training in the offseason.
As triathlon is both physically and mentally challenging and can be very time consuming, it is critical that all athletes have an off season to rest both the body and mind. As well as give yourself a chance to re-introduce yourself to your family and friends. However, minimising the loss of cardiovascular fitness and strength you worked so hard to build up last season, is important.
Some people will have far too much of a break and be surprised how much fitness they have lost and weight they have gained. Others will struggle to rest and commence the start of the new training season fatigued, not on top of niggles and possibly even still be mentally burnt out. Finding the balance can be challenging. To help, we have provided the following guidelines to follow, to have a successful off season.
Phase 1: Complete rest from triathlon
Once you complete your final race for the season, you may either be motivated to continue training or not wish to even look at your bike or swim kit. Either way, we highly recommend having at least two weeks off triathlon all together. You can continue light activity such as walking but avoid swimming, riding or running. Enjoy those other things outside triathlon, like spending more time with family and catching up with friends, eating your favourite lunches and snacks you usually avoid in peak training, and most importantly enjoying sleeping in! Complete rest will allow the immune system to recover after the stress you have put it through in training loads and racing, and allow you to mentally get away from the constant attention the sport requires of us all. If necessary, you can spend this time analysing your previous season and racing, and identifying what you will do next season both in terms of training and racing goals, but otherwise we strongly recommend you minimise your contact with the sport as much as possible, both physically and mentally.
Phase 2: Cross training
After two weeks minimum and three weeks maximum, a return to light-to-moderate intensity activity is important so you don’t lose much of your fitness or strength. However, this period of activity should not include triathlon-related exercise. Some ideas include hiking, kayaking, bouldering, weights and skating.
Phase 3: Return to triathlon – aerobic block
Four to five weeks after the season has ended, and the body has recovered, you are ready to return to triathlon training. However, it is best to avoid high intensity activity and remain in the aerobic zone for all training to bed down your cardiovascular and soft tissue capacity. This aerobic block should take a minimum of four weeks and moving to the high speed sessions does not need to be rushed, as a quality aerobic base through the entire off season is critical.
Also, it is recommended to continue to carry out cross training, especially with sports that are similar to triathlon, such as mountain biking for cycling and kayaking for the swim leg. This is also a great time to work on the areas you don’t usually have time for once you return to full training - working on improving your triathlon specific strength, mobility and technical skills for all three legs. We recommend you see a Physiotherapist, Exercise Physiologist or strength and conditioning (S&C) trainer that specialise with triathletes to set you up a S&C program, as well as see a specialist to review your run technique and undertake a bike setup assessment.
At SportsCare Canberra, we have a number of triathlon and running specialists, who provide acute treatment, rehab and S&C programming, as well as the latest 3D run and bike assessments.