With the triathlon season winding down for most of us in North America with the exception of a few late season races, it’s a good time to think about what to do next.

Bears hibernate in winter so why shouldn’t we?

Nature sets a great example of what to do during the colder winter months
(i.e. slow down activity) but hibernation is a little too extreme for us triathletes, as we’ll give up too much of the aerobic endurance adaptions gained from our sport.

I’ve heard several terms for this time between seasons – off season, out season, etc. – but the term I like best is Transition Season. As during a race when we transition from swim to bike to run, we also transition from Season 2009 to Season 2010.

So, what to do during the Transition Season?

I see three main purposes for the
Transition Season:

  1. Downtime from the current racing season to avoid burnout, refresh mentally and recover from any nagging and lingering injuries.
  2. Carry over an adequate fitness base for next year.
  3. Working on improving technique to become more efficient.

1. Take some downtime. First, do nothing for a week or two after your last race of the season. Take walks. Spend time with family and friends. Sleep in. Participate in all those little activities you miss out on during race season.  After some down time, focus on “exercising” rather than “training.”  Stay active.  Do something every day or almost every day, but not necessarily specific to swim, bike or run.  Try climbing, cross country skiing or hiking.  Need a day off?  Take it.

2. Carry over an adequate fitness base for next year.
The caveat to taking to some downtime is to still do enough to set yourself up with a good starting point (or base) for next year.  As the winter progresses, shift to more swim, bike and run workouts on a more consistent basis and build up to workout durations in line with your expected training volume in the spring.  Consider racing in some road races for goals to get you through the winter.  When you’re ready to start ramping up the volume and intensity in the spring, you’re body will be able to make the transition more easily.

3. Working on improving technique to become more efficient.
As author Peter Drucker said, “Efficiency is doing better than what is already being done.” Sit down and examine your results from this past year.  Where are the greatest opportunities for you to improve?  If swimming, seek individual swim instruction with video tape analysis or start swimming with a Master’s team (and coach).  If biking, the easiest step is start with a proper bike fit (see my write up about my bike fit at Elite Bicycles for an example) and begin incorporating drills into your workouts.  If running, attend a run clinic or join a running club and run with more experienced runners.  For both bike and run, a VO2 max test is a great way to determine your baseline fitness and establish proper training zones for intensity.

Above all, make the Transition Season a true transition from one season to the next…and have some fun, too!

Good luck next year!