I love the off-season. I count down the days to my last race of the season but I also count down the days until I get to do whatever I want, whenever I want. Although the first few weeks are tough when I'm so conditioned to following a schedule (Mon = easy swim, Tues = interval bike + run, Wed = swim, run, etc.) I really enjoy just exercising and not training. Since my last triathlon race usually falls between Aug and Oct, I typically use Oct, Nov and Dec. as my active recovery phase. During this time I am usually training for running races (since running season falls from Nov-March in Florida). Come January, I start building my base for the upcoming tri season and I always enjoy this build phase because without it, I would be lost when I start my second phase of training in March which includes intervals and threshold training.
I always go back this article I wrote in Hammer Enduranec News 57 when I talk about the off-season. I really put a lot of time and effort into this article and I hope you enjoy reading it for the first time as much as I enjoy reading it for the millionth time.
I'm very jealous for those who get to cross country ski, snowboard/ski or partake in snow sports in the winter time. However, for those who can workout outdoors (or indoors) during the winter time, I'll share my choice of exercises in the off-season:
1) Elliptical - I first thought I was too uncoordinated to do this but I love the butt workout it gives me. I don't get my HR up as high as running but I can defiantly feel the burn on my legs. It is also great for me right now as I re-build my strength in my legs, hip and butt from my pre-IMKY injury.
2) Weight training - I Love weight training. I don't go all-out when I'm in the weight room but 2-3 sets of 12-15 reps gives me a great feeling when I am finished. I enjoy making up exercises and I rarely use machines. You will see me stepping up on benches, using the Bosu for squats and bicep curls, doing single leg squats with free weights and using ankle straps to work my adductors and abductors. I also use the bosu and stability ball for most of my abdominal exercises. I recommend the New Rules of Lifting for Women: Lift like a man, look like a goddess.
My good friend Cassandra wrote this book (along with Women's Health: the perfect body diet) and I recommend it for everyone who is a little intimated (or clueless) in the weight room.
I am also a big proponent of plyometrics so I will start doing these in Oct.
3) Small chain ring - Karel is super big on this and I can tell you, it works. I am a big gear pusher. I love my big chain ring. It just wears me out to ride in my small chain ring cause I can't spin my legs that fast. However, I enjoy spending the off-season in my small chain ring (except when I ride in groups) and really working on those fast-twitch fibers that aren't as efficient as my slow twitch fibers and less in quantity. Because I don't recommend anaerobic training in the first few weeks (or first month) of your off-season, I find that I can still keep my heart rate under control while spinning in the small chain ring.
4) Putting up my tri bike - the other day, my coach told me "road biking is fun, triathlon biking is work". I totally agree. Although I love riding my tri bike, I have so much fun riding a different bike than I am use to training on during the summer. My tri bike stays on the wall in our "bike room" from my last key race until Jan. I won't get on it for at least 3 months and I ride my road bike all the time. I also try to commute a lot more on my road bike such as riding to the Trek store to bring Karel lunch. As for Karel, cycling season is usually March - Sept. Since Karel has no other sport to train for he alternates his road bike for mountain bike and enjoys racing MTB in the fall. This is another option for those who enjoy getting a full body workout and getting a bit dirty.