I don't know about you but I am sick of winter. The off-season is a great opportunity to work on your weaknesses and make the improvements you can't really address during your racing season. I find that I am able to train at a higher volume without having to worry about saving anything for the weekend. During my racing season, especially this year I have a race of some sort maybe every 2 weeks. There is a focus on recovering between events rather than trying to improve. You need to have faith in the work you did in the lead up. I have experienced the off-season in Europe where it is literally impossible to train in winter outdoors and this is my second true off-season in Australia without any races from Summer to Spring. I like the volume and I feel like I am seeing some serious improvements. However there is something that I am struggling with a little bit at the moment. I am sick of training. I am really struggling at the moment with finding the motivation to keep pushing. This is especially hard as it is so cold at the moment. So what are the things that I do to get through those colder months of high volume training?
I have written before about training with friends. I have been lucky this year to have some friends come and spend a weekend training with me. I find that it is much easier when you are not training by yourself. Those weekends I have been able to train much harder than I would by myself. I find that I want to train harder because I want to help them improve. Training with them also got me to change some of my bad habits. I normally don't ride too much outdoors during Winter but having them here meant I went out riding and it is something I have continued to do after they have left. I am also lucky to have one of my mates training for his first triathlon which has also meant that I am doing more sessions with him as well. So absolutely one of the first things I would suggest to help keep you going through Winter is to connect with some friends.
Another thing which I did this off-season was to participate in a challenge. My international race team, Team MaccaX, hosted a 'consistency' challenge. While it was unclear how consistency was measured, I chose to try and train every day throughout June. I also tried to get as close to the same number of hours each week. I found this incredibly motivating as there were days where I did not want to train but knowing I was being measured against my teammates got me out the door when otherwise I wouldn't have. We used Strava for the challenge and this is something you don't need to be a member of a team to do. Get your mates together and start a group on Strava. It is super easy and interesting to see how you compare against your friends. I also recently discovered 'KOM' on Strava. If that gets you going good luck to you.
The main thing that I will be doing over the next few weeks is signing up for some running races and duathlons. While I am not able to compete locally in any triathlons there are a number of other options. In 2 weeks I will run a half marathon and a few weeks after that I am going to run the City 2 Surf. I find that by having some races which are literally more training for my main races gives my competitive side a chance to train a bit. I am also able to perform at another level which I never do when training by myself. It provides your mind and body with a break from the monotony of simply training. You are able to meet new people and even talk a little smack.
Last year in the middle of Winter I escaped the freezing cold to Thailand for a training camp. This camp was held at Thanyapura, one of the best training locations I have ever experienced. Training in the heat with a group of athletes meant that I was able to train well above what I was used to in conditions I would not have been able to at home. When I got to my first race of the Spring, the heat did not bother me as I had been in Thailand mere weeks before. Thanyapura is running another one of their 'Supercamps' this year as well and if I wasn't already racing that weekend in Indonesia I would have been there in a heart beat. So I would suggest getting away to somewhere warm. It is amazing how much easier it is to train when the weather is nice.
While I am sure that everyone has their own ways to train through their off-season, these are some of the things that I have done or do currently. If you are able to train hard when most of your competitors are not training you will enter the new season with an edge over your competitors. Or alternatively, you will be able to see some serious improvements in your own individual results. Either way, the off-season provides too good an opportunity to improve to waste. So if you can find the motivation to train in the cold and dark you will reap the rewards once you start to race again.
Make sure you grab the latest 220 Triathlon Magazine this month. There is an article on me and why I race triathlon. I also today filmed a TV commercial. It was a pretty cool experience and completely different to anything I have done before. As I mentioned, my training is pretty full on at the moment. I am finding it hard to stay strong at all three disciplines. As my coach told me though, as you get better you will find yourself having some poorer training sessions as well. I know it makes sense and I believe that I am heading in the right direction. I am looking forward to getting out to Bintan 70.3 next month and I am hoping to see the benefits of all of the hard work I have done in the off season.
Until next time, keep training, stay warm and remember to TRI