For most people, the triathlon offseason begins as soon as the last race of the year is complete and sometime before the intensity picks up again for the following season, so very generally speaking it is the period from September (unless you did a late Ironman) through February or March.
So what are some things you can be doing during this period to help make it as productive as possible for the upcoming triathlon year? Only you can come up with the exact answers based on your situation. To get you started, though, here are five questions to ask yourself as you start to focus on your goals for the coming year.
Did I Accomplish My Goals Last Season?1 of 6
If you felt great and did everything you wanted to, next year's training plan can probably look a lot like last year's with a focus on getting just a bit faster and staying healthy. If you felt that you needed more races, longer races or better times in a particular leg of the race, that can be your starting point in planning for the upcoming year.
Even if you achieved your goals, you may want to change up your approach to training. For example, try group rides instead of solo rides, or put an emphasis on a different leg of the race. Now is the time to think about that.
How Does My Body Feel?2 of 6
If you finished the season with sore joints, tight muscles or any kind of overuse injury, now is the perfect time to tend to it. In the offseason, you have the luxury of being able to adapt your workouts to any schedule, or simply take time off. This is a great time to begin a daily regimen of stretching, heat and ice on your nagging injury.
If the problem is more stubborn, you can set a series of appointments with a physical or sports therapist if you need to. Going into next season with nagging injuries is often a recipe for making them worse.
Am I Happy With My Gear?3 of 6
Let's face it, triathlon can be a gear-junkies sport, so take stock of your gear and budget for any upgrades you might need. Now is a good time to find bargains on big items such as bikes and wetsuits. Buying at this time of year puts you in a better purchasing position because you're less-likely to impulse buy as the urgency to use the gear is not as immediate. Also, as gear dealers begin to stock 2017 models, they're usually pretty willing to let the old models go for a healthy discount.
What Are My Goals for Next Year?4 of 6
This is an incredibly important question to ask yourself, as it should set the tone for your entire upcoming race season. If your goal is to make the leap from sprint to Olympic or Olympic to 70.3, that obviously has a significant bearing on your new training plan. Likewise, if you were happy with your bike and run but not the swim, there is one answer for how to spend the next few months of base training.
What Races Am I Going to Do?5 of 6
There are triathletes who book their races just in time based on schedules, weather and other factors, but that often limits you to races that don't fill up and can make your training schedule hard to map. Most of you will be much better off if you identify some A-races now and circle those dates on the calendar. Being committed to a race helps you work backward on the schedule and makes a training plan almost write itself.
Once you've answered these questions, you're ready to sketch out your training plan. Remember, your training plan is not just about the intense period leading up to the races, but should also include how you want to spend the winter as well as your base building period.
Work in segments of speed work, tapering around races and easy weeks. It's also a good opportunity to look at your work, school or vacation schedule to be sure your training plan can co-exist with other things happening in your life. While you don't have to be overly rigid about it, being intentional about your training year-round will produce better results, help you achieve your goals, and help keep you healthy and injury-free.