Off-season Ideas


You may have recently achieved one of your biggest sporting goals, be it Comrades or the Ironman, and you may be asking yourself, what do I do now? Here are a few great ideas. – BY DERICK MARCISZ, CERTIFIED COACH

For many athletes this time of year is for resting and recovery after a big event, 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 next big event? I believe that athletes should take up to four weeks rest, 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, but 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, and to avoid training 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. 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 by keeping the sessions short and doing faster reps.

A duathlon (run/bike/run) is tough, but 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.

Winter is not the ideal time to ride, because of the cold, but there are still bike races most weekends, so if cycling is your thing, aim to race one of these events. Training sessions will include a longer ride on the weekend and either indoor sessions or spinning classes in the week.

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 maximum 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 up to 21km

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. So, take one day a week to go to a nearby track or sports field, do a 4km warm-up run and then 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.

About the Author
Derick is a Joburg-based running and triathlon coach, with multiple ultra-marathon and Ironman finishes to go with his 20-plus years of experience in coaching. He is also the Modern Athlete DARE TO TRI Coach, and has helped hundreds DTT novices to their first Ironman finishes.