For many triathletes planning a race season, devising a training schedule and actually competing have become second nature.
But, in the months following the last race of the year some athletes take a step backwards, allowing poor training and nutritional habits to set in.
As the race season wraps up, don't let your goals and fitness slip away.
More: How Long Should your Offseason Be?
Instead, take advantage of the offseason by identifying and correcting weaknesses, building strength, and recharging while maintaining cardiovascular fitness.
The offseason is a time to recover from overuse injuries and prepare the body for the next challenge. For some, simply staying out of the gym or off the bike will be a difficult task, while others will look forward to a break from training.
Finding a happy medium, where you allow your body to recover while staying active, is the goal.
With your newfound downtime, allow your knees, ankles, and hips to recover from the repetitive impact of running. Address muscle imbalances with corrective exercises and physical therapy if needed.
More: Use the Offseason to Unwind, Explore and Regroup
Be sure to invest in, and spend some time on, a foam roller. With a foam roller you can enjoy the benefits of a sports massage without the hefty price tag. Target specific body parts, knots, and trigger points to breakup scar tissue and fascia that has compromised muscular function.
When it comes to building muscle and strength, using exercise machines and single joint exercises, like biceps curls and leg extensions, is a waste of time.
Stick to full body, functional exercises and compound movements that recruit large muscles groups. Build workouts around barbell exercises like the deadlift or squat. Use a weight that is challenging, but enables you perform each repetition with perfect form.
More: 3 Reasons to Strength Train in the Offseason
Next, move onto athletic and explosive exercises like kettlebell swings, pull-ups, or box jumps. Don't spend hours in the gym.
A better approach would be maximizing intensity and minimizing rest between sets during a focused 45-minute workout.
Having already established an aerobic base, one to three days per week of cardiovascular training is all it will take to maintain the progress you have made.
Since there's not a race in the immediate future, reduce the weekly mileage totals and enjoy the less scripted workouts.
Remove stress from your workouts and recharge mentally by leaving your watch, heart rate monitor, and GPS at home. Make exercise fun by inviting friends on a run, going on group cycling rides, or joining a recreational league to play indoor soccer.
Finally, choosing low-intensity cross-training workouts like yoga, swimming, cycling, and hiking will decrease the impact on the body and recharge the mind.
The offseason is not a free pass to make poor nutritional choices or overeat. In fact, your diet should remain a priority during the offseason.
As training volume and intensity decrease, so should overall caloric intake. Simply put: you can't eat like you did during the race season and expect to keep excess weight off.
During the offseason eat real foods that will help you maintain a healthy weight and body composition. Build your meals around lean protein, vegetables, fruit, and nuts.
Then, turn your attention to portion control and serving size, focusing on high nutritional value instead of obsessing over low carbohydrates or low calories.
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