Offseason tips for triathletes - training outside the competitive season

Train smart in the offseason

While the offseason is definitely a great time for rest and recovery, it is definitely not the time to let all that hard-earned fitness go to waste. By all means rest a little, but then focus on maintaining a solid aerobic base to prepare you for a great season. 

Will Clarke

Written by Will Clarke

Will is a British triathlete. He's a former U23 World and European Champion, competed at Beijing 2008 and has twice been British national champion.  He now competes on the World Ironman 70:3 circuit.

Minimum rest period should be around two weeks and maximum around six weeks from a performance perspective, but how long you have off completely depends on the athlete and what kind of year you had.

If I use myself as an example, I’ve had some injuries and it was a very disappointing year so mentally I took a harder knock and I had closer to eight weeks off before I booted up some training again. However I’ve also been training at a professional level for 12 years, so it’s also very easy to get fit again.

Don’t be afraid to do what you want in this period and frankly the more gluttonous you can be the better because you’ll be all the more desperate to get back into shape again which is exactly what this period it designed for. I went to Ibiza in my break and trust me after that place you’re ready to get fit again!  

Build up slowly

After a decent break that you’ll be at your freshest and most motivated. It would be nice to have that motivation once the season is in full swing! You’re likely to want to go straight out of the blocks all guns blazing to make the improvements that you’ve identified, but if you do that you’ll be flying for your offseason 10k with no improvements to make rather than the triathlon season; and you could pick up injuries if you push too hard so soon in the winter.

It’s best to start off with some easy miles but also working a lot on your technique, so not only are you laying good foundations, but you’re operating with good technique. You should start way below the volume that you can manage in your peak but  build up to full volume but still quite light in intensity. In those first few months of the offseason you should be able to enjoy your training, I think we didn’t do one ride last year where we didn’t stop for a coffee half way through and if I found myself really not wanting to do a session then it’s probably best not to do it at this time of year.

Lay your foundations

The aim over the whole winter should be consistency, if you can train steadily away without complications then you’ll have laid some perfect foundations from which you can pile on the really hard game changing sessions and you’ll respond and absorb those much more effectively. Also you’ll find that your results will be much more consistent if you managed to get in a big winter of training. As we come into spring you should start with the really intense sessions which is the last step in your preparation for the season.

It’s always best to organise your training in blocks of work, say two or three weeks at a time before you take a recovery week. This way there is always light at the end of the tunnel. It can also be good to get stuck into the Cross Country season. Your local running club will definitely be part of a local league that you can enter for free and you can also get starts for races like Regional Champs and National Champs which are really worth checking out. These workouts are fun and will really bring on your performance.

Use the gym

The winter is also the perfect time get in a regular routine in the gym. At first you’ll probably find that the gym takes away from your swimming, biking and running, but if you’re consistent you’ll find that you’ll stop getting the soreness and tiredness and you’ll wind up better from an injury prevention perspective and you’ll also start to notice some real performance improvements as you’ll be stronger across the board. However by the time the season comes it’s best to drop out the weights and tone it down a level so you’re working more with your body weight. This way you can push more in your triathlon training. 

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