What should I be doing in the off-season to prepare for a strong 2013?
If your goal is a strong upcoming race season, here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Take at least one month off from structured training. This not only allows you to recover from your race season but also “resets the clock” for next year. If you cut your recovery time short, you won’t have as much room to improve your fitness and may find that you plateau in the middle of the season.
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2. Consider a strength-training routine.
Just remember that you are a triathlete and your exercise should be planned with that focus. A progressive routine, as opposed to general conditioning such as P90X or Crossfit, will be periodized and appropriate for the off-season.
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3. Adjust your diet.
During the off-season, your need for quick energy from carbohydrates is much lower. Consider lowering your carb intake until heavy training starts again. This will help you maintain weight when exercise volume is lower.
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4. Improve your weakness. If run fitness is your limiter, train for one or two half-marathons. I like athletes to try a high-frequency (five to seven days per week) running routine for one to two months, moving into more race-specific workouts closer to race day. If cycling is your weakness, an indoor cycling power program can do wonders. I like to give athletes two to three interval-based workouts per week and one optional aerobic ride on the weekend. If swimming is your weakness, join a Masters group that will challenge you.
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5. Plan your season. Sit down and map out your season on a calendar. Sometimes you don’t realize there are conflicts until it’s all plotted out in front of you. For example, you may realize that your peak training weeks for a planned “A” race conflict with an annual business trip. Planning now can also give your family a heads up, make you realize your schedule is too ambitious, and/or save you a lot of money if you register early.
Andrew Dollar is the owner of FTP Coaching (Ftpcoaching.com) based in Nashville, Tenn. He has competed in more than 50 multisport events, including Ironmans, the USAT National Championships and the Sprint Triathlon World Championship.