THREE REASONS YOU NEED AN OFF-SEASON
SO YOU’VE JUST finished your 2018 triathlon season. Maybe it went according to plan and you achieved all of your goals, or maybe it didn’t. Either way, now the time has come for the most polarizing time of the year for many triathletes: the off-season. You can approach this time of the year in a variety of ways: completely removing yourself from the sport for several weeks, or you might just take a few weeks and do light training. However, I would encourage you to avoid falling into the trap of completely skipping the off-season and jumping straight into your 2019 training. Here are three reasons why you need to give yourself a break.
1. BALANCE In the sport of triathlon, we are constantly balancing our swim, bike and run training. Add to all that some strength training, prehab exercises, recovery, as well as nutrition, and you realize how much of our time and attention the sport demands. The off-season is a great time to remember those other interests you have and tap into those talents that you had to put on the back-burner while you were gearing up for your big race of the season. Now is the time to practice your painting skills, cook or read all of those Triathlon Magazine Canada issues that have piled up on your nightstand. The off-season gives you the freedom to take in some other activities and bring a bit more balance to your life. This holiday season, when family or friends ask you what’s new, you can recount stories rather than dropping training split times.
2. GIVE-AND-TAKE During the competition season, we triathletes can often be selfish with our time. This selfishness is OK in moderation. We all have people in our lives, be it family, friends or a significant other, who support us during our peak season. These people have been understanding when we say can’t stay out late at a family function, watch the new Star Wars movie or take long morning walks on the beach. This is the time you can stay up a bit later to watch that movie, attend fun events and give back to your loved ones who have been supporting you all season long.
If the idea of balance or giving time to loved ones doesn’t resonate with you, I give you reason number three.
3. MACRO-SCALE PERIODIZATION During peak training, on a micro-scale (within a week or week-to-week), you probably had some harder and some lighter training days. It is likely you did this because you wanted to ensure that you could optimize your pace during those key training sessions. Well, this isn’t dissimilar to why you need an off-season. On a macro-scale (within a year), you have months where training ramps up, preparing you for your A-race. However, this increase in training intensity and volume is most effective when balanced by a lower training intensity and volume during the off-season. Think about it: you just went through months of hard training, asking your body to perform day-in and day-out. Unless you are a professional triathlete and/or have absolutely no other life obligations, you also asked your body to perform at its best while meeting the requirements of a busy life. Regardless of how your final race went, this doesn’t discount the months of hard training your body endured. Give your body a beak with some much-deserved rest.
Hopefully I’ve convinced you that off-season is an important part of your yearly training schedule. So cheers to the off-season. May your training be minimal and your free-time be merry, because it is such a wonderful and important time of the year.
Meghan Lamers is an elite triathlete who lives and trains in Guelph, Ont.