Mastering Your Off-Season

While many of our regular racing seasons come to an end, the winter months are filled with opportunities to ensure your next season can be your best one yet. Below are a few tips on how to master your off-season this winter! Time to Reflect First and foremost, look back on your race season and all that you have accomplished. This year has been especially long after a year of little-to-no events in 2020. Whether you participated in a new event, tried a new distance, finished with a new PR, or even just had fun out on a race course, reflecting back on the ups and downs of a season can help you to better plan for your year ahead. Maybe next year is a time to try something new, aim for a new PR, or dial in on a specific discipline. Whatever it is, now is the time to reflect, plan and prepare! Work on Weaknesses The off-season, or as some refer to as the “transition season” is a time to prepare for the training blocks ahead. This time training should be spent laying the overall fitness foundation for your upcoming season so you can perform to the best of your abilities and minimize your risk of injury. Hit the Gym Strength and conditioning is one of the biggest missed opportunities when it comes to improving overall strength and power. And unfortunately, many athletes ignore it all-together. While it may not be on purpose, often times we get hung-up on all the swimming, biking, and running time, that we forget, or may just be too tired, to add in important strength exercises. The off-season can be a great time to dive into sport-specific exercises that can help improve weaknesses in any of the three disciplines. Get a Feel for the Water Quality time in the pool during the winter months is another great way to kick-start your next season. Working on drill work and muscle activation in the water can take minutes off your race times! Some great swim drills to incorporate this off season are bi-lateral breathing exercises, long pulling sets, kick work, and positioning drills such as fingertip drag, closed-fist freestyle, head-up freestyle (Tarzan), and sculling. Stretching (Like Your Body Depends On It!) This can also be a time to incorporate a better stretching routine to keep your muscles loose and increase blood flow. Stretching not only helps increase flexibility, strength, and power, but can also prevent serious injuries. If it’s been awhile since you touched a foam roller or rolled out your yoga mat, it might be time to dust off the cobwebs and get some weekly stretching in! Dial in on Nutrition While in season, an average athlete consumes anywhere between 2,600-4,000 calories on a normal training day. However, with the pull-back in intensity and duration in the winter months, your caloric needs may come down by 500-1,000 calories per day. One way to reduce this caloric intake is to cut out the excess energy bars and drinks that you normally need to get though long days of training. Focusing on getting high quality foods rich in vitamins and nutrients in can also help reduce refined carbohydrates and sugars that we sometimes rely on for fast energy stores in higher intensity training. If you are someone who suffers from an upset gut, bad cramping, or any other digestive issues while training or racing, the off-season is also a great time to experiment with new foods, food combinations, or supplements that will help you feel your best when performing. Try a new breakfast before a workout, try a new multi vitamin, or change up your training nutrition to find something that works best for your body! Most Importantly, Take Time for Recovery Athletes deal with a lot of physical, mental, and even emotional fatigue during a season. These past few years especially have put a lot of stress on each of us as we navigate new normals and new routines. The off-season should not only be a time to allow for some physical rest, but also some mental rest too! Take this time to sleep in a bit longer, train with friends, pick up other activities that you’d don’t normally have time for, and enjoy the less intensity before your next training block! While I reflect on my own season, I am excited to take some time away from the intensity and spend time working on my own weaknesses to come back stronger next year! Personally, I’ll be taking this time to focus on strength training, nutrition, and some mental recovery after a long year of traveling, training and racing. My biggest motivation this past year has been training alongside this amazing community and continuing to follow along and be inspired by each and every one of you! I am so looking forward to seeing what this next season brings for each of you and am excited to continue to train alongside you this winter.

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