You hear a lot about steady winter base miles and grinding out the boring stuff to give you a better base fitness for next season.
Yes you do need to build a base but this is usually a 12-16 week period before an 8-12 week build/peak phase leading into you’re A race for the season. Therefore unless next seasons biggest race is a full Ironman race in March, with the need for a 28 week training program between mid September until the probably mid January/February is your non specific off season.
Wow 4 months of no training? Well no, but doing just aerobic base miles will probably waste your time. Here are my 5 top tips for how to use your off season effectively;
1. Recover from your last race and the season you’ve just completed. Too many athletes go straight back into as much training as their body can handle as soon as the slightest sign of soreness dissipates. This is fine during the season after a warm up race but this is the time of the year you can let the body completely recover. A few weeks off or even a month of little or no exercise is just what the body needs after a season of being pounded (it will thank you). Take a holiday.
2. Get strong, think about visiting a physiotherapist or good personal trainer to find out where you could improve your bio mechanics and help you improve your efficiency for swim, bike, run as well as helping prevent injury. A good professional will help you with some daily exercises, which could make your body bomb proof for nest season.
3. Make changes to your eating habits. This is the time of year you can experiment with your diet either adding things in or cutting things out without affecting a really important workout, the last thing you want is dodgy guts on your long run or ride. There are many benefits to a good nutrition program including:
- Weight loss/management and better body composition
- Improved metabolic efficiency maybe allowing you to burn more fat during workouts
- Faster recovery from workouts
- More strength, power and energy for workouts
- The list could go on forever
4. Do shorter intense workouts (High Intensity Training). If you are training for a longer distance race the last thing you want to be doing in your build up to the race are lots of very high intensity intervals as they aren’t specific to your race. By putting these workouts during the winter months with plenty of recovery you can come into the base period with extra speed hopefully setting you up for a PB. You will also have more time to focus on family and friends not grinding out longer aerobic and temp workouts. One caveat here is if you are injured or have mechanical issues get those sorted first hence tip number 2. There should also be adequate recovery from the sessions (not every session should be HIT). A good coach can help you periodise a good winter plan to increase run speed or bike threshold power.
5. Swim a lot! Swimming improves with frequency, the more time you spend in the water following a good swim program the faster you will get. This will allow you more leeway in the season to swim less as you will already have your technique in the bag allowing more time for Bike and run when the weather is better. Aim to swim at least 3-5 times per week in the winter with lots of focus on shorter speed intervals and technique. You will be out of the water in no time on race day.
Don’t waste your winter, it’s not the time to mope about the fact that there are no races and the weather is bad, use it to supercharge your body for a successful season next year! And earn back some brownie points!