Though triathlon is indeed "a" sport, triathletes must be able to do the three sports (swimming, cycling and running) in a manner that gets them across the finish line in the least amount of time. As a triathlete, you may or may not be aiming for a spot on the podium but you probably want to be fast—your personal definition of fast.
In order to be a fast triathlete you need to train like a triathlete, even in the offseason. You need to train for the demands of the sport of triathlon. Your winter or offseason training needs to compliment your training in the competitive season.
Here are six strategies for your offseason training to help you be a better triathlete when race season rolls around.
1) Optimize the number of workout sessions or your workout frequency.
If you have a single-sport history, say swimming as an example, more than likely you swam six days per week and sometimes you swam twice per day. If you try to apply that template to cycling and running for your triathlon plan, aiming for six sessions per sport per week, is a sure recipe for injury or overtraining issues.
Triathletes should aim to do two to three workout sessions per sport, per week. This means you will swim two to three times, bike two to three times, and run two to three times. If you are new to the sport, or it is your offseason, one or two workouts per sport each week is a great start.
As you gain experience, get closer to race season, and increase your triathlon performance aspirations, there may be times when you have four weekly workout sessions in one, or more, of the sports.
2) Strength train for triathlon, not body building.
There are differing opinions on the value of weight training in the offseason. I think most triathletes gain value by adding strength training to their offseason program. The value is increased power output on the bike, reducing the likelihood of injuries by correcting muscular imbalances and working on core body strength and stability.