Off-season training (2021)

As we approach the fall, many of us are winding down our triathlon season, either with our A race, or a disappointing but understandable deferral due to you know what. Either way, it's a good time to figure out how you want to approach your off-season.

The answer is not "I'm going to sit on the couch and watch all the TV I missed." You've got a lot of momentum going for you, and it's best to keep it rolling!

Now's a good time to assess your body and address any lingering aches and pains you might be experiencing. For us older athletes, it might be prudent to take a few weeks easy on the running, since this tends to be the sport that beats us down the most.

Maybe you've been spending a previously unachievable amount of time in the saddle training for your 70.3 or Ironman. It's OK to drop that weekly bike volume down to a couple hours a week for a while.

Or maybe you swam a lot, even though you don't particularly enjoy it! It'll be OK to step away from the pool for a few weeks. Not 6 months, but a few weeks. :)

If you've fallen well of the wagon with your strength and conditioning, this is the time to get back to it. You can do a lot at home with a few dumbbells, TRX, and resistance bands. Check out our ongoing Tuesday night core series if you need some ideas.

Same goes for those rehab exercises your physical therapist told you to do. Get back into it! Exercises designed to address your personal imbalances only work...if you do them consistently, and pretty much forever.

You can also substitute hikes for some runs; yoga and strength for swims, and cross or mountain bike or spin classes for those hard bike rides.

The goal with some time off of serious training is not to detrain but to mix it up, have some fun, and decompress from that more challenging schedule. When you return to a more regimented routine, you won't be bitter and angry about it. :)

Enjoy your off-season sports!

Marty Gaal, CSCS, is a USA Triathlon coach who lives in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Marty has been coaching endurance athletes since 2002. You can read more about OSB coaching services at