Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Triathlon Training in the "Off" Season

With the arrival of winter looming for those of us in the northern states and countries we are faced with the reality that triathlon season (and to some degree running season) is shut down for the winter and some of the spring. What is a triathlete to do during the "off" season to maintain or even increase their fitness when they are relegated to the indoors?

Even if races are not on the agenda until next season, I think it is still critical to set goals for ourselves and have a plan we can work from. From everything I have learned, the "off" season should be less intense than racing season, which makes sense. Our bodies need time to rebuild. Yet we still need to train and schedule in key workouts to maintain or increase our fitness levels.

Below is my plan for keeping my tri fitness up during this "off season". Feel free to use my plan as a model or to create your own customized plan for success in the next racing season.

My Overall Goal: To start off the running season in March with a strong impact and to enter triathlon season (May-Sept) rejuvinated and ready to work hard to win.

Sport Specific Goals: 

Swim: swimming efficiently requires a lot of technique. I plan to use this winter to work on technique for different strokes, work on speed and work on distance. My goal is to swim twice a week at least with one workout dedicated to technique and speed and the other a freestyle distance swim aimed at keeping my endurance up to at least 1.2 miles of swimming per session for a total of at least 2-3 miles of swimming per week.

Bike: biking is my weakest sport but I have fallen in love with it. I know I will have to work hard to maintain a good base for the spring biking season. I plan to ride the bike at least three times a week with a combination of spinning classes for speed and technique and using a trainer to log some miles on my racing bike. My goal is to get in at least 40-50 miles on the bike each week.

Run: because running is my sport du jour I will always pay a lot of attention to developing this sport. My plan for the winter is to focus on key running workouts that will have a quick payoff in the spring. My goal is to run three to four days a week and use the following key workouts: a speed day that can be done on treadmill or track as repeats (faster than 5k race pace); a tempo day that focuses in on a 5 to 10k race pace; a longer run day to keep the base mileage up to at least 8-10 miles all winter (I try as much as possible to do these outside when weather permits. The goal is not speed); and finally if I do a fourth run it is a freestyle run or recovery run after a hard day. My goal mileage for the "off" season is 20-30 miles per week.

Core: because core is so important to a triathlete's performance, I am committed to doing core workouts at least twice a week for an hour each. These workouts for me consist of pilates, hot yoga, kettlebell and weight training. The added benefit of core is strength and better body composition. 

Rest: I will rest at least one day a week from all activity - sometimes maybe even two!

So there you have "off-season" plan. I wish all of you a happy and healthy "off" season. 


  1. Enjoy the offseason! BTW, I would highly recommend these classes to work on your biking (and there is bonus swimming afterwards).

  2. Thanks Jan! I will check it out! I am planning on checking out the CTC event next weekend! Will you be there?