By Coach Julie

Blog 2: November 2nd, 2016

When I embarked on my first triathlon season, I realize now that I did very little in the off-season. This was because I didn't sign up for my first half ironman until March 2014. I downloaded a free triathlon training program to follow but my adherence was poor due to a busy schedule. My new goals were simply to swim, bike and run once a week, gradually increasing my mileage for each event. This wasn't the most efficient training program, but very common for a new self trained athlete. It wasn't the greatest plan but I made sure I would be ready for each race I had signed up for.

My first triathlon of the 2014 season was the sprint distance in Belle River (750m swim, 20km bike and a 5km run). This race wasn't just about me on that day but also about my aunt aka my life coach. She had gone through 2 total hip replacements and a heart attack within the last three years and had set her goal on completing her first duathlon. Just like my mother in law, she was another source of inspiration and motivation. She had not only come out the other side, but now truly lives on the other side inspiring me on those tough days.

On the day of the race, I felt anxious and nervous as this would be the longest open water swim I would have completed at the time. Before the start, I found myself standing with a few other women in the same boat as me, using this race as a training race for a longer distance down the road which reassured me. At 9:05am, the first wave was off and my heat was to follow. We swam in a small canal so the spectators could see us swim for most of the time and cheer us on. Finally, relieved that the swim was done, it was time to move on to the bike. This time around, I had upgraded my wheels from riding my mountain bike during my tri-a-tri to my red KHS road bike. The bike course was an out-and-back, so on the way out I was going into a head wind as they call it. It felt like I was working so hard and barely moving. I remember my aunt had caught up to me on the bike after having completing the first run portion of her duathlon. Her wise words were Make the wind your friend. Til this day, her advice remains the same. I took her advice that day and made the wind my friend, and at the turn around getting the tail wind all the way back to the transition. Thinking back now, that first triathlon of the season was the very beginning of all the first times and personal bests I would experience that summer. On that day, the swim was my biggest achievement and I could now check the sprint triathlon off of my list.

Image result for triathlon swim

Now lets go back and talk about the off-season. As the cold weather rolls around and triathlons are coming to an end what should we do now? The five months in the off-season brings up a lot of questions for an athlete. What do I do? What do I work on?

Most commonly, the off-season is designed to take a break from training. That means ZERO training and the length of time will be different for everyone; two weeks for some, two months for others. It's a time to reflect on your season and review your races so the next points highlight some things I have been doing during the off-season to date.

What did I like about my year? Evaluate my year: Over the last four weeks I have been evaluating my year so I would be better prepared for the upcoming season. There are several questions I asked myself, and I made sure to answer them honestly.

  1. What didn?t I like about it?
  2. What worked in my training?
  3. What didn't work in my training?
  4. What were my strengths and weaknesses?

Review: I looked at each race individually and determined what went well and what I could change moving forward.

I believe the next two points are the most important things you can do early in the off-season, regardless of your sport.

Strength Training: The off-season is primarily used to address number 5 from the list above. Once I determined my strength and weaknesses, a clearer picture on what to work on was revealed. Strength training becomes my main focus as my training volume (swim, bike, run) decreases tremendously. I will be spending a significant amount of time lifting and addressing my weaknesses: correcting muscular imbalances, movement deficiencies and to build a strong foundation. At this phase of my strength training, I am setting the groundwork for more complex lifts by doing a lot of single leg, single arm (unilateral) exercises and core work. I will be following a simple linear periodization for my strength training which will focus on strength-endurance for 4 weeks.

Recovery: Another important and must-do component is to take care of any nagging or new injuries. Last season, I dealt with a stubborn fibular head injury which affected my running progression over the season. This was definitely always in the back of my mind during the run of my most recent half-distance race. I didn't know if or when this injury would surface and prevent me from running. This resulted in a very challenging 21km run both physically and mentally. That being said it's now time for some extensive TLC. This means doing 10min of daily self maintenance work and getting in for regular treatment to be in tip top shape for next spring.

The above information is only scraping the surface of what you can do during the off-season. In my next blog I will continue to share my triathlon experiences and dig into some more valuable things to do in the off-season.

Enjoy your off season, rest up!

Coach Julie