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2010/11/05 - Newsletter

What to do with all that extra time when you're not training

What to do when the next triathlon is half a year away

Welcome again to the tri-strides newsletter.
So you have been doing sports - maybe triathlon over the next year. You want to compete in a race next year. Right now you are just starting your off-season but you do not really know what to do during that time. Then this Newsletter edition is just made for you. I want to give you ideas how to spend the winter do be fresh to delve into your training next Spring (or later Winter)

Here is a list of ideas what to do with the time freed up by not training:

  • Do absolutely no sports one or two weeks minimum. Your fitness is not gone afterwards, don't worry.
  • Relax. Get that sleep deficite back into "the black numbers" - take naps if you can. Even 20-minute power naps are fine.
  • Get a deep-tissue massage or two. I know massages are expensive but now is the time to kick-start your body's recovery. I never tried that myself but at our local community college they have a massage school - meaning they need guinea pigs on whom the students can practice. This might not end up a perfect massage but it is supervised by teachers and I have not heard about any trouble with this. Also our local YMCA offers massage therapy for only $20 half an hour. Last time I checked they were pretty good.
  • Do what you always wanted to do. I just restarted vocal lessons - and while I know it might be stressful once I am back in training, it is really fun and I intend on continuing and taking that time. It's good for breathing, too, and sets my mind a bit off triathlon.
  • Take family time. Go to the movies or a museum or the botanical gardens together.
  • Help your immune system by using a sauna/steam bath. When I grew up my parents had a sauna in the house and here is what we did: relax 15 minutes in the sauna, in between pour water with a bit pine needle oil onto the hot oven - it gets all steamed up and feels hotter. Then get out, take a cold (!) shower starting from your extremities toward your heart, until you can stand the cold water (you might want to start lukewarm if you are not used to the cold) and relax for ten minutes. Then repeat. And repeat. In our YMCA the sauna has no provisions for the steam-making but they have a steam room - I just do my sauna thing and move over to the steam room for five minutes at the end. Just don't forget to bring a towel. Ask for the policies in your club about what (not) to wear.
  • Unpack your mountain bike (after the one or two weeks of total sports abstinence) and find new trails. You can get off road and work on your bike handling skills if you want. You also just can explore your surroundings. Or even pack a camera into your bento box.
  • I unpacked my roller skates - but it is not a perfect time in the year because of all the debris the storms left on the streets. Yet, it is fun.
  • Walk through your neighborhood - you even can speedwalk if you like - it is still active recovery.
  • Explore new running routes - for next year.
  • You might want to do a Winter fun run or 5k. Or volunteer at a Winter 5k.
  • Start planning: What will be your A-race next year (your most important one - main goal race)? and how will you get there. Google through cyberspace or visit a bookstore, read triathlon magazines to find your ideal training plan or create one yourself. Research a coach if you want. A bit later in the off season you might want to consider a (couple of) session(s) with a swim coach. Get yourself in the mode of almost not being able to wait until you get to start training again.


Here are a couple of things you should not do now:

  • Train on as you did before - running a high training volume. This will only increase your risk of injury. It will NOT give you a head start on next season.
  • Eat on as you ate during peak training season. You will have to work hard to lose those kilograms of extra weight. This is always extremely hard for me - I bake Christmas cookies just after Thanksgiving so that our family has them throughout Advent. Most of them are buttery and sweet and quite irresistible (as to be expected from those old German recipes from my grandma). Baking already poses a challenge because cookie dough also tastes good :) Yet, while a bit never hurts anybody (unless you are diabetic or allergic) too much means more work in the coming season. Either more work to lose the weight or more work to get you over the hills on your bike. Having alternative snacks nearby, baking some healthier cookies (macronas for example or anything with nuts) and having the cookies out of the kitchen, only approaching the boxes when it is snack time, helps... The same, of course, is true for Thanksgiving dinner and other holiday occasions. Know what's calorie rich (stuffing, pecan pie...) and what not (turkey, salad) to be able to smartly select your foods.
  • Don't panic about your weight, either. A bit gain won't kill you or your performance next year.
  • Don't overbook your time with all the things you missed doing over the Summer. You still will have to manage your time and some things might have to wait until a bit later. You even might want to use a calendar to schedule those things because you also still want to have time for those naps and massages.


Enjoy the extra free time - but use it. Whatever you do, have fun doing it!

This is the third of a series of bi-weekly to monthly newsletters. Stay tuned for the next issue.

Greetings from your coach's desk
Dr. Sylvia Zinser
USAT Certified triathlon coach