This time of year might feel like downtime, but it is deceivingly important for triathletes. A triathlon offseason is a golden opportunity to let your body recover from what might have been a demanding race season, take stock of where you stand and what you want to accomplish, and use that information to plan for the upcoming season.
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?
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?
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?
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 2013 models, they're usually pretty willing to let the old models go for a healthy discount.