The Switch Gears Plan
For athletes at the end of a long, exhausting season, improvement only occurs after a full recovery. This plan starts with a complete break of one to four weeks of rest or easy training at active recovery pace. Then a block of unstructured training begins.
The next four to eight weeks are spent training according to a flexible volume goal. Athletes choose their activity based on what they feel like doing, and there is built-in flexibility for weather, group opportunities and individual interest. Winter sports are great supplemental aerobic conditioning and create a break from the monotony of triathlon training – with added fitness gains. Sports such as cross country skate skiing, skating, ice hockey and snowshoeing introduce lateral strength and stability to the glutes and hips. Other good options for off-season cross training are rock climbing, racquet sports and team sports, such as basketball, soccer and ultimate Frisbee. Building strength across more planes of motion builds more robust injury resistance and translates to better summer performance.
A full recovery followed by a block of aerobic development creates a solid foundation for race-specific fitness. Even with the maximum four week recovery, spending eight weeks working on aerobic fitness with cross-training results in minimal de-training for experienced athletes. Within about four weeks of training, most of the fitness from the previous season returns and further gains can begin.