No races until next year? Learn how to make the most of your off-season
Because of the amount of time athletes typically have until their next race, the off-season is a great opportunity to take time off, try new things, and experiment with technique. Before you decide to blow your diet out completely and catch up on your favorite TV shows, consider a few things that can prime you for the next season:
Fine-tune your technique
Remember all those moves your teammates were able to do during races and training sessions? The off-season is the perfect time to learn these skills. Since most athletes reduce the amount of time they dedicate to aerobic training, they usually have more time to work on certain aspects of the race they’ve been considering all year.
Experiment on your long-rides nutrition or change up your diet. Because your target races next season tend to be still weeks away, you have more time to accommodate and observe changes without having to stress too much about lost time.
Try something new
The off-season is a great time to explore other sports, try different race formats, and build strength. Focus on seeking other activities and give yourself an opportunity to bond with other peers. Take a rock climbing class or join workout sessions of friends you normally wouldn’t accommodate because of your rigid training plan.
Don’t think of trying new activities as a waste of time. New sports in the off-season allow athletes to cross-train and build strength, and coordinating with a coach can make sure you’re on track to make gains for next year’s races. It also reduces the mental stress of keeping up with a regimented training plan and diet all year long.
Think about next year
Off-seasons can be as short as two to three weeks and as long as a few months depending on what you have planned for next year, so the sooner you know what you want to attain, the sooner you can think about the coming weeks. Changes in race distance is a common consideration, which typically affects what you would want to focus on during the off-season. When you schedule your first major race next year, it will dictate how much time you have before focusing on aerobic training.
Continued development in triathlon is a long waiting game where gains are made in the span of months to years. Motivation to continue improving can come from many things, but I find the practice of looking back at the past season to be one of the most effective tools in a triathlete’s arsenal.
Take a look at your activity history. Sometimes it can be quite fulfilling to see how far you’ve run or ridden this year, or even how many times you’ve nailed a PR. How have you been performing in your 5K time trials? Have your swim times improved? Taking a long-term view of your performance can give valuable insights you can use moving forward, especially if you’ve made any significant changes.
Sit back and go through your photos as well. For many of us, the sport has rewards beyond physical development. Count the friends you’ve made, the good habits you’ve built, and the fun you’ve had in the sport. These factors might even be more important for you than a personal best.
In the coming weeks, evaluate your progress, reconnect with other sports and activities, and think about your intentions for the next season. Some of us can forget how rewarding this sport can be if we don’t take the time to appreciate how far we’ve come (and how far we still have to go.)