Another racing season is coming to a close for many of us. This period is not only crucial recovery time (both mentally and physically), but it’s a great time to reflect on the season’s triumphs and challenges, and to plan for the off season and the next season.
Read on for some important end of season tasks you should be doing, plus what you can focus on in your training during the early off season, to make sure your offseason is as effective as possible.
There are a few end of season tasks you should do to wrap up the season before moving on to planning next season’s goals and offseason training.
1) Clean and store your gear properly: This includes your wetsuit, tri kit and other items that you won’t be using during the offseason (bike gloves, helmet padding, shoe covers, transition mats, etc can get pretty dirty). Cleaning and storing these items properly will extend the life of your gear and ensure it’s ready to go when the season starts up again. Check the manufacturer’s website for instructions for your specific gear, especially when it comes to the more delicate items.
2) Get your bike cleaned and tuned: With so much training and racing going on, our bikes can take a beating. Often there isn’t time during the season to get it tuned up, and bike shops get pretty jammed in the spring, so fall is a great time to do this. Get your bike serviced at your LBS (local bike shop) so you know it’s in tip top shape and won’t sit there with dirt and grime all winter.
3) Get a trainer wheel: Swap out your race/outdoor training wheels with a trainer wheel so you aren’t putting all that wear and tear on them. The trainer wheel doesn’t have to be anything special, just something that will replace your regular wheel and extend its life. You can get just a tire, but having a separate wheel means you don’t have to change the tire several times, you can just quickly swap out the wheel.
4) Schedule a transition period: Transition is the longer period of rest and recovery after your priority race(s) are over. This period could happen multiple times per year, but often fall, as triathlon season ends for many of us, is an ideal time to have a longer transition period before jumping back into offseason training. This is a great time for mental & physical rest, time to reflect and set goals, sleep, spend extra time with family, sleep, catch up on chores and sleep some more!
Early Off-Season Focuses
There are a few things you should focus on in the early off-season. This lower volume, lower intensity “break” from heavy training is a great time to focus on the following:
1) Technique & Skills: Since your body needs a rest from the high volume and/or high intensity of the training season, this time is perfect to work on technique. Shorter, easier sessions with a heavy focus on skill building and technique are very important. You want your higher volume in the winter to give you the most benefit, so improving form and technique right now is important. This could mean meeting with a coach to watch you swim, bike and/or run. It could also mean lots and LOTS of drills. Watching videos of experts and pros and taking videos of yourself and comparing them is also helpful, but when in doubt, schedule some sessions with a coach for some expert feedback.
2) Nutrition: Everyone’s favorite thing to talk about! It’s easy to fall off track with nutrition immediately after the season is over. You’ve worked hard, you’ve been intentional about nutrition to fuel your racing, and maybe you just want a break. The list of reasons to stop focusing on this (most of which I’ve used myself) goes on and on. Now is the time to reinforce good habits and make sure you’re keeping well balanced habits so you can fuel your offseason training.
3) Sleep: Other than nutrition, sleep is one recovery tool that many athletes tend to sacrifice throughout the year. We all tend to have a lot we want to accomplish in our days and sometimes sleep is the first thing to go. Getting solid, consistent sleep is crucial to be able to handle your training load, recover faster, and ultimately, perform better.
4) Setting priorities and performance goals for the next season: Choose which races are the most important to you, and specific & measurable goals for those races. Your training will be focused on your goals, so setting your goals first is important. You may want to finish your first Olympic race, your first marathon, etc. You may want to set a 3 minute PR at a race you did this past year. Whatever your goals are, write them down and make sure your training matches those goals. If you have a coach, your coach will be aware of what those goals are and make sure your training is focused on them. If you don’t have a coach, either meeting with one for a brainstorming session or finding a plan that is focused on the specific distances you want to complete can be helpful.
It can be easy to neglect some of these things at the end of the year. However, spending some time now will ensure that you go into the coming year prepared and ready to crush your goals.
To another great year of training and racing!