I hope everyone has been having an enjoyable offseason so far. I know I have been able to get caught up on some stuff for CITC, and get in a lot of hours on my new job (same company, different position).
The offseason is the time to let your body recover from a long racing season, but just as important I think is that you also get a mental break from structured training. I think it is the mental burnout that can really break your stride more than the physical exhaustion of a long season.
My last race was in mid September, the Harvest Moon Half Ironman. It was my first shot at this distance, so I really wasn't too sure what to expect. I had fun and raced pretty well. Since it was awhile ago I won't go into details. Race results are at http://www.myentryfee.com/results/Results.aspx
I finished with a 4:51:18, which was 60th overall. The cool thing is that it qualified me for the 2010 and 2011 USA halfmax championships. So, I've got something to think about for next year.
It is hard to believe that it is December already. It is already time to start thinking about setting next year's race calendar up, and building a plan for next season. If there is an early season race on the schedule, training may even be starting soon.
I always struggle with the best type of training to do in the offseason and going into the "prep" phase of the season. You can read endless websites, books, magazines, etc to find out what you should be doing, but I'm not sure it helps too much. Some will tell you to not do anything structured,to make sure that you get a complete mental break. Others will say to go long and slow and build the aerobic base so that you are well prepared for more intense training when the real season starts. Others will tell you to minimize the amount of time you train and make sure that your training sessions are quite hard (Threshold, VO2, Anaerobic intervals). Almost all of the things you read though will tell you to get into the weight room and build functional strength.
So, with that, I will tell you what I have been doing. I don't claim that this is the right thing to do, only that this is what feels right to me. I am trying to keep some decent frequency of swims, bikes, runs as well as keep some good intensity. If you look back at some previous posts, I felt like my weakness was in the high end (VO2 and anaerobic) efforts during races. So, with hard workouts, I can keep the overall time in training down (helps with the mental burnout). I also am making sure I am doing plenty of strength training and stretching. Last, I am going to make sure I do plenty of skiing this year, as that is one of my favorite things to do.
I like to keep my activity level up for a couple of reasons. First, I get bored if I don't, and second, I would gain a lot more weight than I already have if I didn't. Since the last race of the year, I've got from 152 to 160 pounds. It is healthy to gain some weight back as this makes sure that your body is getting plenty of nutrients to fully recover from the race season. In my case, I know that some of the weight I've gained has been muscle, which is good. I've seen my strength increase almost every session, so I'm not too concerned about the gain. That being said, the goal is to lower my bodyfat by the beginning of the race season. So, now that we are through with Thanksgiving, I'll be working on whittling that back down to 152 at a rate of about .75 to 1 lb per week, while trying to increase my strength.
So, that is the plan, we'll see how well I execute it in the next couple of months.
On a personal note, it was terrific this week that Jaime got good news from her angiogram. She won't be a triathlete anymore, as she can't swim, but she can get back to doing anything else. It will be great to have a training buddy back, but mostly, to have a clean bill of health for my wonderful wife!