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Depending on where you live on this great planet, your triathlon calendar most likely has an “off-season.” The off-season is usually the time after the athlete’s “A” race is officially over, and training volume is likely being temporarily reduced for a few months. The off-season is a great time to recharge and to focus on your weaknesses—or to become a total sloth.
Which off-season character are you?
- Off-Season Yoda
- Off-Season Karate Kid
- Off-Season Kung Fu Panda
You know who you are. Yodas (aka unicorns) are the triathlon masters who race hard all season and take the off-season to really hit the weight room, practice their weakest sport and yet still manage to maintain a fantastic aerobic base while keeping a lovely balance of rest, proper nutrition and meditation for at least 10 minutes a day.
Hate you, we must.
OK, maybe not. But the true Yodas are the ones who hit the ground running in the spring. Sound like you? Maybe. But I think true Yodas makes up about 0.004 percent of the triathlon population, which is why they are also known as unicorns. While many might appear to be Yodas, they are merely Yodas in disguise: failing to achieve the triathlon nirvana of balance. The key is to do all of these things and also not burn out or make your family hate you. If you are a true Yoda, then you are amazing. But one word to the Yodas-in-training of the world: Burn out you might. We can all use a tip to take caution to balance your mind, spirit, family and training in the off-season, or the on-season might be a mess.
The Karate Kid
You may not be as wise in all the tri things as Yoda, but you are very smart. In your arsenal, you have some tried-and-true tri hacks that get you through the off-season in time to start the ramp-up training in the spring. You don’t lose a ton of fitness through all the wax on, wax off stuff you incorporate in the off months. You find yourself slightly less than fit, but not enough where you can’t adequately get some paint the fence happening, and pull off your famous Johnny-take-down kick on your early spring race day.
The lessons from the Karate Kid off-seasoner are great: giving the body and the mind a true opportunity to rest, but not losing all fitness and skill is actually a great philosophy. The key is the intention that you desire to achieve balance, even when you may fall down a little. The best advice for the Karate Kid type would be to focus on a weakness a little more, and keep on continuing to do your thing.
The Kung Fu Panda
Oh, my people. If the off-season is the time to eat holiday cookies, lie around like Po and do nothing (and pretty much unapologetically), then you are an off-season panda. You may feel slightly guilty with this method, but the allure of “I will start in January” is far too great to resist amid all the holidays happenings. While you may find great mental rest in your Kung Fu Panda-isms, you may also find massive disappointment and anxiety the first time you sit on your saddle on Jan. 1.
The advice I have for the Kung Fu Pandas of the world is this: I have been there. In fact, I have been there nearly every single off-season. Sometimes to the point where I think, Wait, did I actually DO a triathlon just a few months ago? Fear not! The beautiful thing about being a panda (and anyone else, for that matter)? It’s a new day. All is not lost; rather, we might just need a little bit of motivation, consistency and discipline. If we focus on the “why” behind the swim, bike and run, it makes the journey that much sweeter. We must get our heads on straight, believe in ourselves and repeat: Tri We Must. And the next season, I think it helps if we aim to put down the donuts and instead, strap on a headband and work toward a little more Daniel-san.
Meredith Atwood is a wife, mom, attorney, Ironman, coach and author of Triathlon for the Every Woman. She lives in Atlanta and blogs at SwimBikeMom.com. Find “Beginner’s Luck” every Monday on Triathlete.com.