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Mix it Up with a 30-Day Challenge This Off-Season

Think outside the run streak.

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At first, the off-season sounds like a grand old time—shaking off the structure of a daily training plan; eating what you want, when you want it; and basking in a newly-discovered wealth of free time. But for some triathletes, a lack of structure can lead to feeling unmotivated and distracted. Without a box to check or a carrot dangling out front, it’s natural for a goal-driven triathlete to feel a little unnerved.

Of course, the off-season is necessary to rest, recover, and recharge. But if one feels structure is necessary for creating a sense of stability and balance, a 30-day challenge is just the ticket. In addition to providing a short-term goal in the winter months, 30-day challenges provide the opportunity to make (or break) a habit, spark personal growth, or try something new. Studies have found that doing (or not doing) a certain activity for 30 days can jumpstart lasting changes to a person’s routine, making your new habit automatic.

Though your 30-day challenge can take the form of a run streak, swim-focused training block, or elevation challenge on the bike, those aren’t the only options for triathletes. The off-season is a perfect time to establish habits and get into routines outside of swim-bike-run.

30-Day Journaling Challenge

During the season, you may mark a workout as “completed” or fire off a short text to your coach to let her know how it went. But reflecting on the big-picture details—what you ate, how you slept the night before, how you felt during and after the workout—each day can get you in a holistic mindset with regard to training. Whether you choose to type up your thoughts on your laptop or put pen to paper in a journal, commit to spending 10 minutes each day reflecting on your workout and goals.

RELATED: What’s the Best Training Log?

30-Day Foam Rolling Challenge

During the regular season, you may have the best of intentions to spend quality time you’re your foam roller. But training sessions run long, the kids want to play, the dog needs to be taken for a walk, and the siren call of that post-ride breakfast burrito just can’t be ignored. Challenge yourself to 30 straight days of a 10-minute foam-rolling routine, whether as an automatic adjunct to your workout or as a stand-alone practice while watching television.

30-Day Nutrition Challenge

Though many 30-day diet challenges exist, they’re often incredibly restrictive. Avoiding entire food groups or eating from a short list of “approved” foods isn’t very effective if one “celebrates” on day 31 by bingeing on donuts and beer, then going back to their old routine. Instead of massive overhauls of your diet, try changing one meal per day from your current habits, like adding a salad to your lunch each day to boost your vegetable intake.

RELATED: The Complete Guide to Meal-Planning Success

30-Day Bedtime Challenge

According to Gallup, the average amount of sleep for U.S. adults is about 6.8 hours per night, with 40 percent rarely getting more than six hours. This is below the doctor-recommended average of 7 to 8 hours per night (this rises to 9 hours per night for athletes in periods of heavy training). The easiest way to ensure you get enough ZZZs is to establish a bedtime and stick to it every night (yes, even on the nights when the laundry needs to be folded or your favorite movie is on).

RELATED: 15 Yoga Poses to Help You Sleep Better

30-Day Adventure Challenge

Curious about that Pilates studio that just opened down the street? Always wanted to check out that kickboxing class that takes place while you’re on the treadmill? Just found out your local studio offers Beer Yoga? Now is your time. Many gyms and fitness studios offer free or reduced passes for new participants. Challenge yourself to string together 30 days of new adventures in fitness—in addition to a refreshing change of pace from swim-bike-run, you might just discover something you want to keep on your schedule in the new season.