3 Phases of Offseason Training

There are three primary training periods that make up the offseason/preseason period for triathletes. Each training period builds upon the one before it. Therefore, it's imperative that you don't skip over the early periods in favor of later ones. Think of it like math: You wouldn't skip over algebra to get to calculus, would you? And clearly, the better you mastered algebra the easier calculus will be for you.

The more time and focus you give to the early periods—which is where you truly begin to master the basics and fundamentals, develop the foundation, and create improved skills and coordination, the more productive you'll be, and the better you'll be in the later periods of training—especially in race-specific training.

More: How to Periodize Your Training

Period One: The Foundation

The primary objective of period one is to assess movement quality, restore balance and health, and build the foundation that will provide the platform for the remainder of your season's training and racing. At Pursuit Athletic Performance, offseason training begins with a detailed look at movement quality and overall health status.

At Pursuit Athletic Performance we assess movement and establish this baseline through our clinical gait analysis system. The analysis provides an in-depth assessment of body balance, tissue health, mobility, flexibility and stability. It's important to also assess your overall health and get any medical check-ups that may be required.

More: 6 Exercises for a Balanced Body

Included in this phase is restoration and foundation training, and integration. This includes a return-to-running progression. This first period should last anywhere from 4 weeks up to 10 or 12 weeks, depending on your individual health and fitness.

At the completion of this phase, you are now ready to progress to period two, where you begin to train your nervous system to operate at a higher level and build true speed skills, as well as continue to progress on your sport-specific skills.

More: 3 Rules to Ramp Up Your Training

Period Two: Integration and Progression

In period two we begin to add load and challenge the foundational skills and frame that you established in period one. This is where you begin to really add fitness and skill elements that have you moving faster and better than you may have in quite a long time. 

Period two is largely based on and around these facts:

Fact #1: You will never reach your true potential as an endurance athlete until you maximize the quickness and efficiency with which your nervous system controls the muscles involved in swimming, biking and running. For this reason, the focus of period two is holistic neuromuscular development.

Fact #2: The most powerful and efficient way to build an endurance base in running and cycling is to integrate sprint based, high-intensity training into your program. This does not mean gradually increasing mileage at an easy to moderate intensity.

It's true, the overwhelming amount of science and research, as well as our own practical experience here at Pursuit Athletic Performance points to these facts:  

  • Swimming, biking and running faster is a neural thing.
  • Going short and fast is the most efficient and powerful way to build an endurance base.

More: How to Build Speed in the Offseason

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About the Author

Coach Al Lyman

Coach Al is the co-founder of Pursuit Athletic Performance, a nationally-recognized gait analysis and training company for endurance athletes. He is certified by USA Triathlon, USA Cycling, the National Strength and Conditioning Association, and Clinical Gait Analysis by Medical Motion, among others. Coach Al is a 25-time marathon finisher with a personal best of 2:39 at the Boston Marathon, and a nine-time Ironman Triathlon finisher, including three finishes at the Ironman World Championship.

Coach Al is the co-founder of Pursuit Athletic Performance, a nationally-recognized gait analysis and training company for endurance athletes. He is certified by USA Triathlon, USA Cycling, the National Strength and Conditioning Association, and Clinical Gait Analysis by Medical Motion, among others. Coach Al is a 25-time marathon finisher with a personal best of 2:39 at the Boston Marathon, and a nine-time Ironman Triathlon finisher, including three finishes at the Ironman World Championship.

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