How Triathletes Should Train During the Off Season

In Fast-Track Triathlete, elite triathlon coach Matt Dixon offers his plan of attack for high performance in long-course triathlon—without sacrificing work or life. Developed for busy professionals with demanding schedules, Dixon’s program makes your PR possible in Ironman®, Ironman 70.3®, Rev3, and Challenge triathlon in just 7-10 hours a week.

In the book, Matt Dixon offers an overview of his top priorities and goals for each phase of the year: the off season, the pre-season, and race preparation. His book offers training schedules and key workouts for each phase.

Let’s take a look at how Dixon recommends triathletes training during their off season.

Fast-Track Triathlete by Matt Dixon

Postseason Phase: The Off Season

The true “start” of your season comes on the heels of a break at the end of the prior season. The postseason phase can be 4 to 12 weeks, depending on your experience level, when your previous season finished, and your race plans for the upcoming season. You should not be at full training capacity during the postseason. Even if compressed in time, your training load should be nowhere near your max. In addition, you can enjoy a degree of flexibility in this phase. Although hitting every intensity during every week and phase of the year is important, it is all about how much intensity. In these weeks, you will do very little threshold work and will not have event-specific focus.

Here are the key points to remember when you approach postseason work:

Preparatory: This block of work is all about preparing for strong upcoming training. So the aim is to gently build fitness and muscular resilience as well as to strengthen the tendons and ligaments. When your training does ramp up, you should be prepared to accept the load as the best opportunity to adapt to the hard work, avoiding injury.

Technical: This is a great time to focus on refinements of habits, technique, and form. Physical stress should be lower, which opens the door for more technical focus.

Equipment fit: Choose new equipment, change your bike fit, or upgrade your shoes or wetsuit. The postseason provides plenty of time to adapt to such changes within the context of a ramping training load.

Low physical stress: As mentioned, global stress is low. Even if you are time starved, you should operate at a lower training load (in weekly training hours as well as intensity of key sessions).

Flexibility: Put the time-trial bike aside for now. You’ll have plenty of leeway to integrate some fun and associated activities, such as mountain biking, cross-country skiing, hiking, trail running, and so forth. Enjoy it. In the meantime, spend some time on your road bike. It is a more intuitive machine that facilitates work on handling skills and terrain management.

Embrace intensity: It sounds like a paradox, but do some high-intensity work. It is all in the pursuit of neurological conditioning and technical development, so think about form over force especially during the postseason.

Begin the strength habit: You must learn and refine the key movements with which you will load heavy and explosive strength training. To effectively embrace the benefits of season-long strength and conditioning, you need to adopt these habits now.

Add key sessions: You will have a heavy load after emerging from this preparatory phase, so you must get ready for the upcoming sessions. Include neuromuscular power work on steep grades in some key runs, touch on low-rpm strength work on the bike, and hit some fast, paddle-based swimming sessions. This readies you for the tough work coming.

Goals for Postseason Success

  1. Emerge with good baseline, but not prime, fitness levels.
  2. Build a resilient musculoskeletal system.
  3. Establish positive habits to carry through the season.
  4. Be emotionally fresh and eager to add hours and training load.
  5. Commit to integrated strength training.

Here’s a preview of key workouts from the first two weeks of the Postseason training program in Fast-Track Triathlete. For a deeper preview of Dixon’s Ironman Race Prep training program in the book, check out this free download.

Fast-Track Triathlete FTT_OffSeasonWeeks1-2

In Fast-Track Triathlete, elite triathlon coach Matt Dixon offers his plan of attack for high performance in long-course triathlon—without sacrificing work or life. Developed for busy professionals with demanding schedules, Dixon’s program makes your PR possible in Ironman®, Ironman 70.3®, Rev3, and Challenge triathlon in just 7-10 hours a week.

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