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Tips for a successful off-season triathlon training program

Published on November 2017
Jake McDonald
Jake McDonald

B.S. Exercise and Sport Science Triathlon Coach for Purple Patch Fitness Certified Personal Trainer Triathlete for Team Every Man Jack

Whew! The season flew by. Just like that, the race you’ve been training for and envisioning for months on end has come and gone. Now what? Post season, or “off season" is an awkward and sometimes depressing time for athletes. It can feel like a time of decreased motivation and downright confusion on what to do. It’s easy to train and put in the work when you’ve got a race in mind, but it can be much more difficult when that race has passed. Although it can be more difficult, it is extremely important to remember that post season is just as important as any other part of the year and should be taken just as seriously, even if that includes forcing yourself to rest.

ENJOY THE BREAK, FOCUS ON RECOVERING

Enjoy the break! Everyone needs time off, even the best of the best. Some need a couple weeks, some more. It’s very dependent on the athlete, sport, training, and goals. If the whole season were put into a 24 hour day, the off season would be your sleep. This is the time to soak up all of the work you’ve done, let your body recover, reflect on your training and begin to plan the future. It shouldn’t be torture, it should be enjoyable! Too many athletes can’t stand to take time off and think they can get an edge up on their competition by sneaking in some extra training. It doesn’t work that way, and ironically, you’re putting yourself in a hole that is in turn going to make you slower and a less effective athlete in the future.

 

Ritch Viola founded the Every Man Jack brand in 2007 around the same time he took up triathlon.  In 2011 he raced the Ironman Hawaii and had a custom EMJ racing kit made for the event.  At that point, he decided that creating and sponsoring an all male triathlon team would be a great marketing endeavor for the Every Man Jack brand.  So in 2012, Team Every Man Jack was born.

In just two years, the team has gone from local San Francisco upstart to national presence with 50 guys on the team across the US (and one in Canada!).  
Every Man Jack Triarthlon Team on a training ride


After spending time with some of the top athletes in triathlon, as well as lots of time with serious age groupers, the biggest difference I’ve noticed is that the age groupers are actually in a sense, working harder than the pros to their own detriment.

It is not uncommon for age groupers to train year round with no time off. Pro triathletes understand that to hit the efforts required to improve, they must take time off and go easy when it’s time to go easy so that when it’s time to go hard, they can go HARD. If you’re training all year and never actually fully recovering, then you forfeit the ability to go HARD. That difference between having that ability to hit that level of effort and not is the edge that pushes some athletes to the top and plateaus others. While some really struggle with taking a break, others really struggle with finding motivation during the off season.

DEVELOP EFFECTIVE TRAINING HABITS

The best way to deal with motivation issues during the post season is to not rely on motivation to get you through your training in the first place. First, if you’re struggling with motivation and needing to motivate yourself for every training session, then you probably need some time off, see above. Relying on motivation is setting up for eventually failing. Motivation fluctuates, some days you can’t wait to get your training session in, and some will require an excessive music pump up session to make it happen (we all do it). A better method is to develop effective training habits that fit into your life.

back of Every Man Jack triathlete in Garneau Custom

SCHEDULE YOUR TRAINING SESSIONS IN ADVANCE

One of the biggest failing points for people in sticking with a training or exercise program is right after that initial motivation wears off. They then question doing it and go through the constant battle every day of if they feel like doing their workouts or not. Make your training part of your life, instead of something you have to go do and you won’t need to worry about this issue anymore. The most effective way to do this is to plan ahead. I can’t stress it enough how important it is to plan ahead when it comes to training. Take all of the thinking out of what needs to be done today so all you have to do is execute when it comes time. This puts you in action mode.

Schedule your training into your day in advance rather than having to figure out what you should do today and then have to get the energy and motivation to go do it. Just look at what you have planned and immediately execute before your brain can try and make excuses. After effectively doing this for some time, you’ll realize you don’t need to rely on motivation nearly as much because your training is as much part of your day as anything else. It becomes habit.

Garneau Custom for Every Man Jack Tri Team

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Another effective method of dealing with motivation is to train with others. It holds us accountable, and it’s fun! Spend all of your time riding on the road? Get some friends and go hit the dirt, the pavement will still be there when you get back, promise! Unstructured post season group training is incredibly effective for building endurance and enjoying the sport. Along with some fun group training, the post season offers a time to work on your sport.

Use this time to focus on specific aspects of the sport. When it’s race time, it’s hard to have time to focus on foundational skills and technique. Now, during the post season there’s a lot more wiggle room to focus on any skills that may be lacking and holding an athlete back. It’s also the time to start building a strong foundation for next season’s training to build on. This is where a lot of strength and mobility work can be incorporated to ensure an injury free season with plenty of resilience built up in the muscles to handle the workload coming their way. Strength and mobility work is probably the most neglected piece of training when it comes to endurance athletes and arguably one of the most important. An athlete can’t train or race if they are injured or unhealthy. Endurance sports put a ton of stress on the body through repetitive linear motion that must be counteracted to avoid imbalance, overuse, and injury. Strength and mobility training requires little time and provides a lot of bang for your buck.

Use the tips above to have an effective post season but remember, this is a time of getting to do whatever feels right! If you need some more time off, take it. If you want to go do some unstructured fun “training,” do it. Is there something you have been needing to work on but never had the time during race season? Work on that now. Now is the time to set yourself up for success. Build the strongest version of yourself that you possibly can so that when you do go back into your next season, you will be ready to handle anything that comes your way. Good luck and have fun!

 

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Aenean commodo ligula eget dolor. Aenean massa. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Donec quam felis, ultricies nec, pellentesque eu, pretium quis, sem.

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Aenean commodo ligula eget dolor. Aenean massa. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Donec quam felis, ultricies nec, pellentesque eu, pretium quis, sem. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Aenean commodo ligula eget dolor. Aenean massa. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Donec quam felis, ultricies nec, pellentesque eu, pretium quis, sem.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Aenean commodo ligula eget dolor. Aenean massa. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Donec quam felis, ultricies nec, pellentesque ”

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Aenean commodo ligula eget dolor. Aenean massa. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Donec quam felis, ultricies nec, pellentesque eu, pretium quis, sem.

TRAIN IN A GROUP

Another effective method of dealing with motivation is to train with others. It holds us accountable, and it’s fun! Spend all of your time riding on the road? Get some friends and go hit the dirt, the pavement will still be there when you get back, promise! Unstructured post season group training is incredibly effective for building endurance and enjoying the sport. Along with some fun group training, the post season offers a time to work on your sport.

FOCUS ON SPECIFIC ASPECTS TO IMPROVE

Use this time to focus on specific aspects of the sport. When it’s race time, it’s hard to have time to focus on foundational skills and technique. Now, during the post season there’s a lot more wiggle room to focus on any skills that may be lacking and holding an athlete back. It’s also the time to start building a strong foundation for next season’s training to build on. This is where a lot of strength and mobility work can be incorporated to ensure an injury free season with plenty of resilience built up in the muscles to handle the workload coming their way. Strength and mobility work is probably the most neglected piece of training when it comes to endurance athletes and arguably one of the most important. An athlete can’t train or race if they are injured or unhealthy. Endurance sports put a ton of stress on the body through repetitive linear motion that must be counteracted to avoid imbalance, overuse, and injury. Strength and mobility training requires little time and provides a lot of bang for your buck.

tri_EveryManJack_2303.jpg

DO WHAT FEELS RIGHT

Use the tips above to have an effective post season but remember, this is a time of getting to do whatever feels right! If you need some more time off, take it. If you want to go do some unstructured fun “training,” do it. Is there something you have been needing to work on but never had the time during race season? Work on that now. Now is the time to set yourself up for success. Build the strongest version of yourself that you possibly can so that when you do go back into your next season, you will be ready to handle anything that comes your way. 

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