Automatic Endurance Training
It can be daunting during the winter months trying to get “the ball rolling” after a nice and well deserved midseason break (let’s be honest there is no off-season). There are a lot of thoughts about being able to train consistently all year opposed to having a base season, then slowly working into pace work, then race sharpening and finally the taper. With the right training and coaching why shouldn’t this be possible? It is possible to achieve year round fitness and maintain race form without injury and burn-out. This isn't to say one is always going to be ready for their “A” race, but they should have confidence in their training all year long. But I digress.
For me, transitioning out of this so called "off season" is definitely a process, and it SHOULD be. It is an important part of training for the mind and body. The rule of "too’s" can be the hardest lesson for a triathlete to learn. Too much, too fast, too soon can literally keep one sidelined for a season, especially the older we get.
Here are a few tips I personally use to make this transition. Some of these may be different than what you're used to, but it's served others well in the past, and whether you're new to multisport, or a 20 year veteran, you would do well to shake things up a bit. After all, variety is the spice of life... or wait, was that Cumin?
1) Unstructured training – The last thing you want to do at the beginning of a season is to stress about training over the next year. So just go out and ENJOY your three sports for what they are with no time goals, no distances: just have fun being out there. It’s OK to go a couple weeks without data… What’s that you say?! NO data? BUT HOW WILL I KNOW IF I'M EVEN EXERCISING!? I’m sorry my data geek friends, but training does go on without numbers. What this means is you should be going easier than you think. If you cannot carry on a conversation while running or riding the first couple of weeks, back it off a little. Run, ride, swim with friends of all abilities. If the data thing freaks you out and you have to use it, let lower numbers become your friend. Often this time of year I do not wear a watch. We all know about the distances of the loops we typically run or ride: you won't be as in-the-dark as you think.
2) No Pace Workouts – This is an offshoot of unstructured training. It is easy to stress out thinking about a track workout or interval session on the bike tomorrow morning or after work, so keep your workouts casual until you get back in the groove. Just get your body moving.
3) Keep it social – Not that training isn't already sometimes social, but you should take this transitional period to make more of an effort to call, tweet, or get in touch with people you like to train with but don’t normally do on a consistent basis once targeted training starts. There'll be plenty of time for lonely intervals soon; for now, catch up with some old friends to help get the motivation flowing.
4) Focus on form – This is something we often neglect, but can benefit greatly from especially if we have imbalances. Most of us have an understanding of swimming, riding, and running form but rarely focus on it. I am a huge fan of swimming drills and incorporate them into my workouts year round. I do the same with my cycling and running. It’s a great way to warm up or cool down or just add quality volume if you need it.
I hope this helps relieve some of the winter/off-season blues and motivates the athlete inside you to start or enjoy the training you’re already doing.
Onward and upward - Wolfe