Turn the training “on” in the “off” season

Jess Adam






By LifeSport coach Jessica Adam

The cold weather is getting closer and Kona has come and gone so for most Canadian triathletes the 2014 racing season has come to a close and we are entering what most people refer to as the “off” season. While a good rest is more than likely well earned and needed, it shouldn’t last until the new year. This article will discuss some things to consider as we enter the winter months of training and how to start 2015 fitter than ever!

Train your weaknesses. Most athletes know this, but few actually execute this properly. If you are a weak runner, you won’t make big gains by running a little bit more than you usually do. You need to make a plan over a stretch of 2-3 months where you focus on that one sport that is in need of some work. Back off the other two sports a little and make the weak one a priority in your training. Treat it like a mini cycle within the big picture of your year. You can build a base and work on power and/or speed within this mini cycle with the distance and intensity dependant on the distance of triathlon you want to focus on next year. If you feel that you are weak in two of the sports or even all three, focus on one at a time.

Hire a coach. This time of year can be just as intricate to plan as race season. As mentioned above, training plans can be extensively layered and professional planning will ensure it is done right at the right times so that all you have to do is execute the plan. A coach will give you confidence that you are doing everything you need to in order to improve for next season.

Don’t peak too early. There is a difference between training your weaknesses and going too hard too soon. A mistake many keen triathletes make is to train like a rock star in January and February inspired by the new year. Many athletes think that they should start early on the tough stuff and then they burn out by April right before race season starts, especially if they do this in all three sports at once. Building too much volume or doing too much hard speed work are examples of how you might peak in a sport too early.

Power on the bike. The off season is a great time to build bike power. Without the physical demands of racing taking a toll on your body, you can perform these shorter tougher workouts that will increase both power and speed on the bike. A power workout might look something like this; “Pedal as hard as you can for 10 seconds in a gear you can push 90 to 110 rpm with effort, then spin easy for 20 seconds. Repeat for 8 minutes.” Building power on the bike in your base training will not only help you to ride faster, but will also help you to run off the bike stronger in your races.

Swim more. You may as well because it’s a great indoor workout in the cold winter months. If swimming is a weakness, the winter is a great time to build in a focus session. Joining a masters group is an excellent way to improve.

Strength and technique. Building strength and improving technique both take a lot of time and effort so you need to start as early as possible. You can’t start either of these things in April and expect to see a big difference by June. Incorporate a good strength training plan in to your schedule and seek out ways to improve your technique either by having your coach observe you while training or another professional. Most coaches will provide on location and/or video analysis of your technique in all three sports. Make sure to repeat this a few times to ensure you are improving and not falling back in to bad habits when the eyes are off.

The off season may mean you are confined to a treadmill or an indoor bike trainer, but it doesn’t mean you have to be stagnant in your training until the weather starts to turn. Talk to your coach about the next few months. Make a plan that will have you starting next year confident in all three disciplines with the proper preparation to start strong and fresh in 2015.

LifeSport triathlon coach Jessica Adam has been a coach in Victoria, Vancouver and now resides in the Toronto area. She loves to share her years of experience with beginner triathletes and also experienced triathletes that are trying new distances like ½ IM or IM for the first time. She coaches athletes online all across the country.


If you are interested in working with Jess, write Jess@LifeSportCoaching.com