So your races are over, and everyone (including your coach) is telling you that in the offseason, you have to "take a little time off" the swimming, biking and running that have helped you become so fit this year. Worse, they say you need to let yourself "get a little deconditioned" and take a break from the regimented schedule that kept you so on track.
No wonder you're freaked. But the reality is the offseason isn't where you turn into a TV-watching marshmallow that can't run for 10 minutes without stopping. Here's what offseason triathlon training is really about and how to get through it stronger, happier and more ready than ever to break your own records in the year ahead.
Stop Calling it 'Time Off'
"The offseason doesn't mean off training," says Lucy Smith, coach for LifeSport Coaching and a 19-time Canadian champion and internationally ranked athlete in triathlon, duathlon and distance running. "It's [based] off of your goal races for the year." From the time your training starts through your last race, "you have to be 'on' in every workout and have to be thinking about performance. You're always mentally preparing for your key workouts."
It's taxing, and if you don't take a break from that, you get burnt out," she says. "It's about switching emotional gears." Think about it as the foundation season, or the "differently fit" season.
Change the Way You Measure Your Workouts
"Make the focus 'how much fun' rather than 'how fast or how far,'" recommends Elizabeth Waterstraat, triathlete and founder of the coaching business Multisport Mastery (multisportmastery.com).
"A lot of people jump back into the mindset of training too seriously, too early, and that contributes to burnout later," she says. Many people go right from triathlon racing to racing other sports. "Where's the break mentally?" Waterstraat asks.