Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Off-Season

"How many hours/day do you put in at this time in the off-season (including stretching, foam rolling, and workouts)?  Would it be different if you were preparing for a sprint?"
            GREAT question!  Throughout the year, the weekly hours vary greatly and look different depending on where I’m at in the training cycle.  For example, my triathlon season wrapped up September 19th, and for the next 6 or so weeks, I only put in about 4-5 hours/week.  Basically, I just stayed active, but was not in any focused training.  Some people don’t start anything structured for training until January, depending on what their race schedule looks like, their goals, and the distance of their A-race.  Some focus on a single-sport in the fall after the triathlon season ends (as I did in 2013 when I ran a marathon in October).
            The week before Thanksgiving was a peak weak in my swim block (it cycles in volume within the block) so I went over 14 hours for the week: 5 hours of swimming, 3 hours of biking, 3 hours of running, 3 hours of lifting, and about 12 minutes of foam rolling.  That was a LOT for being in the off-season.  I won’t hit that again until my 2nd peak (the week before Christmas), but then it’s followed by some easy/recovery days in order to absorb the training load and adapt.  Typical weeks may otherwise be anywhere from 8-10 hours of training.
            For a sprint, I would approach it differently.  An Olympic is essentially about double the distance, so a bigger base is important.  Once doing more race specific work (build period), it would also be different in that it’d still be a lot of high intensity/very easy recovery, and I’d keep the volume lower.  Anything before January, I’d keep below 8 hours per week.  Again, my focus would be primarily on intensity: becoming more efficient in the swim, increasing FTP and VO2 on the bike, and doing max intervals, repeats and intervals on the run.  While all of these things are important for Olympic as well, there is more endurance required for it, and a delicate balance is needed.
Still my favorite quote!
            The off-season is a great opportunity to work on technique.  Swimming is the most technique driven of the three, and you can work on things like: body balance, rhythmic breathing, body rotation, catch and pull, and the kick.  You can make the biggest gains in the pool by increasing frequency (4 or more times/week).  It gives you a better feel for the water.  A big week for any of the disciplines (super-compensation week) can give you a boost, but you have to follow up with recovery in order to not become injured.  On the bike, you can work to increase your cadence and smooth your stroke.  With the run, a quicker cadence can also be worked on, landing underneath your body, the arm swing, breathing patterns, and staying relaxed. 
            The off-season can also be a great time for other sports, hobbies, and cross training (because three sports aren’t enough!).  Some triathletes like to use the winter to cross-country ski to replace a chunk of their running.  It gets the pounding off the body but is great for the aerobic engine.  I’ve heard great things about yoga too.  As stated in my previous post, it’s also the PERFECT time to hit the weights!  Before you start anything after your season ends, just remember to first take time for recovery, evaluate your last season and set goals for your next.  Then when you are in need of some motivation to get out on your trainer, run in the cold, or get up to workout while it’s still dark out, remember that champions are made in the off-season.

Stay tuned, next week is for the triathlon newbies!

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