October 26, 2011

Honing Your Edge in the Offseason

If you’re like me, you want to have fun during the offseason without losing too much fitness.  So how do you give yourself a break from regular triathlon training and still avoid packing on those extra pounds?  The secret is to change your focus from being a triathlete to becoming a better athlete.

Think about it this way.  Excellence in long course triathlon requires full body athleticism; a combination of aerobic capacity, muscle strength, mechanical efficiency, and coordination.  Most of us spend the majority of our training time building aerobic capacity and that’s a good thing.  Let’s face it, if you can’t cover the race distance nothing else matters.  During your off-season now’s the time to shift your focus to the other three pillars of long course triathlon athleticism.  Just keep in mind that there’s no right or wrong way to do this.  The only requirement is that you do things that you don’t normally do and have fun.  Here are some ideas.

  1. Muscle Strength:  Lifting weights is the most obvious tactic and a good one.  But how about these:
    • Load one or two kids into a wheel barrow and push it around the block or uphill… I’m guessing they’d line up to help you with this one.
    • Fill a couple of buckets with water and attempt to carry them up and down a hill without spilling a drop.
    • Take a hike with the family and carry a heavy backpack, one of the kids, or most of the gear.
    • Remember chicken fights?  Toss another human on your shoulders, and spar with a partner – but keep it safe out there!
  2. Mechanical Efficiency:  Save the drill work for in-season training and focus on games that involve short, quick sprints, especially in different directions.
    • Play catch or tag with your kids.
    • Chase your dog around the park.
    • Referee sporting events that require you to move around quickly, such as lacrosse, field hockey, or ice hockey.
    • A quick pick-up game of basketball is a nice diversion and also lets you re-establish camaraderie with pals you’ve likely ignored through triathlon training season.
  3. Coordination:  The goal is to make things work together so focus on athletics that require hand-eye coordination.
    • Dribble a soccer ball while going for a jog.
    • Play tennis or ping pong.
    • Try a game of underwater hockey with family and friends.
    • How about a game of Frisbee golf?  Loads of laughs and a great change of pace!

As you can see there are no rules and you’re only limited by your imagination.  Be creative and tap into your inner child to re-discover those fun games you adored as a kid.  This effort is a real game-changer! Include one items from each category and discover how fooling around in new, active ways will help you handle higher training volumes, tougher workout sessions, and ultimately race faster next season.

That’s it for this week so stay healthy, train safe, and hope to see you at the races.

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