I often get asked what training I do as a triathlete or Comrades runner in the ‘off season’? Well, for many athletes this is the time to rest and recover – which is what you need to do! But for how long do you rest, and then what should you do in this so called ‘off-season’ until you start training for the big events again?
I believe that athletes should get back to some type of training relatively soon after a big event. Take up to four weeks rest if you need it, and then try to ease back into some form of training. This is not always easy, and the temptation is strong to stay under the duvet on those cold winter mornings. The key to any training is to always have a goal, so even during this off-season/winter period it is important to identify a goal, however simple it is, and to not train aimlessly! Here are some suggestions for winter training goals for both triathletes and Comrades runners.
Winter is a great time to improve your swimming technique. Think about it: The indoor pool is actually the warmest place to train in winter! Most swim training for triathletes is generally geared towards swimming distance rather than speed, so why not work on your technique and speed? Keep the sessions short (1.5km to 2km) and do faster reps, working on pace and technique.
Try one of the duathlon events on the calendar – either road or off-road. A duathlon (run/bike/run) is very tough! However, it is something different and will build strength, whether you are a runner or a triathlete. Here the emphasis is on speed on both the run and the bike, as the distances are fairly short. Train for fast running and biking and do not forget brick workouts – run, bike and run again! Quite different to triathlon.
Winter is not the ideal time to ride because of the cold weather, but there are still bike races most weekends, both road and off-road. So if cycling is your thing, aim to ‘race’ one of these events. Training sessions would include a longer ride on the weekend and either indoor sessions or spinning classes in the week.
SHORT DISTANCE RUNNING
Winter is the perfect opportunity for triathletes to rediscover their ‘running legs’ and for Comrades runners to improve their speed. Your run training in winter should be a max of four sessions, as follows:
• Long run of 15-18km
• Easy recovery run of 10-12km
• Intermediate run of 10km, with some speed work
• Race or time trial – 8-21km
(Last year we had a series of articles on ‘running fast’ Log onto the Modern Athlete website, click on the Training tab and search for the archived training articles.)
This is my favourite! I find it absolutely amazing that runners do not believe they should work on their running form! All other sports, without fail, include some form of drills. Yet, runners think they do not need to do this. At a recent half marathon I ran behind a runner for a good few kays who had this really uneconomical arm/hand movement. Check out any of the major city marathons on TV and the top runners all have good form – sometimes strange-looking, but always efficient!
So, take one day a week to go to a nearby track or sports field, and do a 4km warm-up run and then the some drills. Firstly, think of it like the best professional golfers working on their golf swing. They would probably have a good swing even if they never worked on it, but what you see when they play is the result of a lot of hard work combined with that ability. The same is true for elite runners – they look good when they run fast because they work on it!
To easily incorporate drills into your training, pick a handful of drills such as high knees, butt kicks and fast feet. In just five minutes you can do two sets of each for 30 to 50 metres at a time and greatly improve your running style.
GET TO WORK
So what are you waiting for? Take a break after your big event, but then get out from under the duvet and start with some training that will all help make you a stronger athlete when the hard training for your chosen event starts again.