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Two-time Ironman world champion Tim DeBoom provides sage advice for avoiding burnout and striking a healthy life balance in the coming months.
Last month I reached the ripe old age of 44, and I finally feel privileged enough to reminisce about the “good ole days” of triathlon. The Ironman in Hawaii used to signify the unofficial end of the racing season in North America, whereas the Wildflower triathlon, the first weekend in May, signaled the start of the next season. In between, we celebrated the off-season.
Today, the off-season is gone. Athletes now race right through Thanksgiving, into December, and then in January it begins again. I cherished my off-season. I needed it. Taking a couple of months away from structured training and competition helped me—physically and mentally—recover from the stresses of the past year. The break allowed me to be fresh and hungry for the year ahead. It was the most important element to success in my 20-year career.
Since many triathletes today don’t understand the concept of a real “good ole days” off-season, and I happen to be reading children’s books everyday to my little girl, please allow me to share this “Ode to the Off-Season”:
The off-season: a time to start anew. You probably did one race too many … or two.
You’re tired. You’re sore. You may have a stress-fractured bone. Rumor is one old pro raced while passing a kidney stone.
It’s time to heal, to let the racing go. If you get invited to Thailand, you have to say no.
It’s a time to reflect on your victories and losses. Spend some extra hours at work, redeem absences to your bosses.
Mope over that bad race, but for one day only. Any more, and your off-season will become very lonely.
Catch up with family and friends, who for months, you’ve neglected. Don’t forget the kids and spouse, who probably feel rejected.
Attend to your house—your yard surely needs raking. If you say you’re too tired from training, all will know that you’re faking.
Run off and get married. You could strategize your baby’s birth too. Then next year, you can plan family activities, like a trip to the zoo.
You can stay up past 9 o’clock. In fact, go beyond 10. There’s good stuff on TV. You’re not kids; you are grown men!
Don’t set the alarm clock to go to the pool. ‘Tis the off-season. You must follow that rule!
Drink coffee all morning. Heck, drink coffee all day. At least until 5, when you should open a bottle of wine or a strong I.P.A.
No mores bars, or gels, or protein shakes. It’s time for burgers and fries, and ice cream-filled cakes.
Eat chocolate and cheese and tons and tons of bread. Any allergy to gluten is all in your head.
Put on five pounds, but not 10—that’s trouble. Ten extra pounds might make you think you should run a double.
Hide the race wheels. The same goes for the tri bike. Ride around town on your cruiser, or better yet, go for a hike.
No watch, no heart monitor, no structured workouts at all. Just do some easy exercise. Enjoy the winter and fall.
The same goes for your power meter! Put it away. For goodness sakes, you don’t need to stare at that all day!
Go for a ski and play in the snow.But don’t tell your sponsors, especially if you’re a pro.
If all your talk is triathlon, you will be known as a bore. If you must, and I mean MUST, please do it only at your local tri store.
At most, make goals and plan races for the year ahead. But don’t get too excited and start training early instead.
Enjoy the off-season. You will start next year fresher and stronger. If you do not heed me, by next summer, you’ll wish your off-season had been longer.
Tim DeBoom is the 2001 and 2002 winner of the Ironman World Championship, and the last American to win in Kona.