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How To Refocus Your Run After Triathlon Season

After busting your butt all summer swimming, biking and running, there’s a certain appeal to simplifying your life in the off-season.

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After busting your butt all summer swimming, biking and running, there’s a certain appeal to simplifying your life in the off-season. That’s a big reason why many triathletes choose to focus on running performance following their season’s “A” race. “Coming off tri season, the reduction in training volume is nice for both the athlete and their family, but many are still interested in doing an open road race to try to get a fast time,” said Jesse Kropelnicki, a Massachusetts-based coach and founder of QT2 Systems.

Whether you’re looking to log a PR or simply improve your running technique, the postseason is the perfect time to capitalize on your current fitness but still roll back the amount of time spent training. With this in mind, Colin Cook of Peak Triathlon Coaching in Bedford, N.H., emphasizes the importance of taking a couple of weeks of downtime before tackling any big running-specific goals. “You have to take a step back to take a big step forward,” he said. “Be sure to take that little break for long-term improvements.”

Gina Kehr, a professional triathlete and coach from California, agrees, saying that the break is important both mentally and physically. “No matter how you slice it, a down week or two is necessary for the mind and body,” she says. Indeed, after a couple of weeks of rest and relaxation, you can refocus and begin working on those run-specific goals, knowing you may just be in the best shape to achieve them.

RELATED: Fitter and Faster Podcast: How to Crush the Off-Season

Goal: Run A 5K/10K PR

Training to Scale Back

“In terms of the swim and bike, take 50 percent off both,” Kropelnicki advises. “Try to maintain 3 swims per week, otherwise your technique might suffer.”

Training to Add

Instead of increasing run mileage, begin by simply increasing the frequency of runs. “if you had been running 30 miles a week over 3 days, go to 5 days a week at the same mileage before increasing it,” says Kropelnicki.

Sample Workout

8–12 x 400m between mile and 5k pace, with equal rest. Add 1–2 intervals each week.

RELATED: Run Your Fastest 10K Ever With These Training Plans

Goal: Do A Half- or Full Marathon

Training to Scale Back

“When you begin adding in an extra run or two, drop a swim or bike workout, but still utilize them for cross-training on a weekly basis,” says Cook.

Training to Add

“Start by increasing the number of runs you’re doing, rather than the total volume,” says Cook. As you build up your run strength, increase your total mileage by no more than 10 percent from one week to the next.

Sample Workout

After the first couple of weeks of run-specific training, begin including a long run each week. Begin with 8 miles at 1 minute/ mile slower than goal marathon pace, and increase the mileage by 1–2 miles each week, with a down week (no long run) every three weeks.

RELATED: 12-Week Marathon Training Plan for Triathletes

Goal: Strengthen Running Muscles

Training to Scale Back

“Strength training during tri season is more focused on hip extension power and quad strength,” Kropelnicki says. Reduce time spent on hip extension in favor of the hamstrings and hip flexors.

Training to Add

“You can increase the number of strength workouts you’re doing in the off-season,” Cook says. “Really focus on strengthening the ligaments and tendons around the muscles to help prevent injury and build overall strength.”

Sample Workout

Begin including single-leg balance and strength exercises, like single-leg squats, heel raises and single-leg deadlifts. For the core, include front, side and reverse planks.

RELATED: Build Your Own Custom Strength Workout

Goal: Improve Running Form

Training to Scale Back

“While it’s important to maintain swimming technique, there are five points of contact on the bike so you can ride less,” Kropelnicki says.

Training to Add

“Drills are an important part of training good running form,” Kehr says. “Focus on standing tall, quick turnover and effective running arms.” High knees, butt kicks striders, and A skips can all encourage a faster turnover.

Sample Workout

Work on achieving a cadence of 180 steps per minute to help increase turnover and encourage you to land under your body, rather than out in front of your body on your heels.

RELATED: Triathlete’s Guide to Becoming a Better Runner

This article originally appeared in the November 2015 issue of Triathlete magazine.

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