Too often, Triathletes enter the "off season" with one of two different mindsets: happy to take too much time off, or happy to take too little, if any, time off. Both can be detrimental to the 2016 season and beyond. The off season is all too often not clearly defined and many struggle with the concept of risking "lost fitness" over the period of a few weeks or even a month. To complicate matters further, perhaps the key ingredient that is overlooked the most is the mental break we need to approach the new season in a balanced fashion.
Firstly, the concept of lost fitness in largely misinterpreted. After a 9-12 month period of aerobic and neuromuscular training and development, the body and mind are in need of a break. This break allows the mind and body to respond in a healthier manner in the upcoming season. Allowing the body to decompress from the stressors of a long training and racing load results in rejuvenation much like the mind needs to de-stress after a long day at the office. Without the de-stressing or reparation period, the break down only continues setting the athlete up to enter the new season behind the curve rather than in front of it by being mentally and physically fresh.
Now, does the "off season" break demand zero exercise? It might. But, that does not mean one should go into an extended off season and keep the same volume of eating, add alcohol, and sit on the couch for a month or two. In fact, the "off season, is rarely longer than a month which should include "fun" exercise and cross training. I insist my athletes engage in off season activities that will spark the desire to enjoy being active. Suggestions include: leaving the Garmins and other data driven toys at home, engaging in sports they don't normally do during the season: basketball, skiing, snow shoeing, even just hiking. Be creative-think about things you wish you could do during the season when you thought, "man, I miss doing that" and do it. Your body and your mind will thank you as you approach and ramp up your training in 2016.