Making the most of your off season training can help set you up for peak performance in season. Here are five areas to focus on, which will have you raring to go when the season comes around.
1. Drills – I think many athletes consider drills boring, but I think that’s because they underestimate the potential of drills to greatly increase their efficiency. Yes, we need to get in laps, and miles to build endurance, but doing those with good technique will enable you to go further, faster, with less effort, and reducing the risk of injury. Sounds good right? If drills are even part of a training schedule, they may get dropped as the volume builds during the season, making the off season the perfect time to spend more time on them.
2. Strength – Like drills, strength is an often neglected, but very important part of optimal training. Strength can help to improve technique, power, endurance, as well as reduce risk of injury. Some good exercises to start with are pullovers, wood chops, push ups, squats, side lunges, deadlifts and planks. You can find professional videos of these exercises at bodybuilding.com. Start with one set of 8-12 repetitions with a weight that’s heavy enough that you feel it, but not so heavy that it negatively affects your form. You can gradually increase repetitions, and to doing multiple sets.
3. Rehabilitation – Are lingering aches, pains, and tightness likely to improve as volume increases in to the season? Highly unlikely. So why not dedicate some of the off season free time to taking care of anything that’s bothering you? If it’s general tightness, add yoga, or stretching, and foam rolling to your schedule. If it seems more serious, then see a professional for physical therapy or a well deserved massage.
4. Gear Prep – You can’t remember when you last had your bike tuned up? Did you lose your goggles, or tear your wetsuit last season? Now’s a great time to inventory the condition of your gear, and get it tuned up or start shopping for new gear. When you show up to training with a bike chain that’s not black, and brakes that work, you’ll be the apple of the coaches’ eyes!
5. Mix it Up -Unless you have an early season, longer distance race, you don’t need to follow a strict swim, bike, and run calendar; as you would during the season. In fact, it’s good to mix things up in the off season, having a more flexible schedule, to give your mind, and body, a bit of a break. Doing different activities will recruit muscles in different ways, helping to lessen imbalances, and giving you physical and mental variety. Try a new class at the gym, like pilates, or even tai chi, go skiing, hiking, snow shoeing, or indoor rock climbing. There are tons of options.
I hope this inspired you with some new things to add to your off season training. Email me below if you have any questions or would like support in figuring where to start.