Updated: Apr 21, 2022
This time of year is a great opportunity to reflect and refresh. For most multisport athletes, the offseason (out of season, or whatever you term it) has begun. While this makes for a good time to look back and take stock of your year, my focus in this article is to develop a plan for the next few weeks/months
Giving yourself the opportunity to recover does not mean you need to stop doing any training. It means you need to stop stressing about your training. The biggest aspect of this that I believe is often overlooked is the mental side of it. Endurance athletes tend to underestimate the mental fatigue of a rigid training schedule during a long season. Having to make the decisions day in and day out that allow training the priority of time can wear you down as much or more than a high volume load. Take the time to allow your body and MIND to recover. Carve out a block of time in which you alleviate this stress. This can be done by cutting out multiple sessions in a day, shortening sessions, or focusing on a single sport.
2. Have fun
Don't hurry to focus on your weaknesses. Instead, do what you enjoy. It's that simple. If you have been loathing those long rides, runs or swims as you moved toward your last race then give yourself some time without them.Whether this is sleeping in, watching a movie, or running a local 5k, as long as you're doing something you enjoy, you're relieving stress. Everyone tends to stress about what they need to work on, and that is something you'll want to begin addressing, but first focus on what you enjoy. You'll be surprised how much a short break from what you've been loathing will motivate you to get back at it.
3. Try something new (if you want)
It's hard to change up a routine in the middle of a race calendar but the offseason provides an opportunity. For triathletes, less structure gives you time to venture into something new such as kayaking, cross, gravel or mountain biking, or even trail running. Join a social training session that might not have fit in during the season. Dietary changes are another thing that are sometimes hard to implement during high volume or intensity training, so now would be the time to experiment with any changes.
4. Get strong(er)
This can be, but doesn't have to mean ramping up your gym training. Like a dietary change, adding in a strength program can be a bit overwhelming during the season. If you want to try hitting the weights now would be the time. Strength doesn't just have to come from the gym, aerobic strength based run (hills), swim (paddles,) and bikes (hills/low bro) throughout this timeframe can provide the same benefits.
What you choose to do and what's most beneficial are highly individual and can vary greatly. (Triathlon Taren had a video on the Kona podiums offseason intentions that's worth watching). But what is important for everyone is to find what helps them decompress and allows for them to then redirect all their energy into what they want to focus on and accomplish the following season. Being laser focused on your "A" race more than 6 months from it doesn't help you nail the race. Giving yourself a break will allow you to keep the focus during the intense weeks leading into it.
Happy offseason, now go have fun!