Triathlon season is winding down and chances are you either have one race left on your schedule or are already finished for the season. You’ve worked hard all year and earned some well-deserved downtime to recharge your batteries. As you begin to ease back into training, I’d like to challenge you to view this off-season as “planned down time.” Here are three ways a coach can help with that.
1. Accountability – Accountability is a huge factor whether or not you consider yourself to be a self-motivated athlete. If a workout goes red in Training Peaks and no one ever sees it, did missing the workout really happen? Besides the fact that you want to complete your workouts to make your coach and yourself proud, there are many other benefits to being coached. Having a coach to continue to give you feedback on your workouts and assess your heart rate, rate of perceived exertion (RPE), power data, and help you brainstorm through any obstacles that may deter your training plan (read: holiday gatherings), will give you the motivation you need to stay on track with your training plan during the off-season.
2. Preparation for the upcoming season – Communication is key in any relationship and the athlete/coach relationship is no different. The off-season is a perfect time to meet with your coach and do a “life audit.” It’s a chance to look both at the big picture (family, job, mental health, etc.) and the minute details (hours of sleep, activities completed on recovery days, etc.) and see what’s working along with what needs to be tweaked or removed from your life to support your athletic goals. You can also use this time to plan out both your short-term and long-term goals (both race-specific and non race-specific) as well as nail down your priority races versus races you’ll train through. Creating the perfect training plan is like a jigsaw puzzle as each athlete deals with different schedules, family obligations, health issues, etc. Having a coach year-round will take out the headaches of having to catch your coach up on any new developments that may affect your training plan, and will strengthen your communication with your coach.
3. Work on weaknesses – As tempting as it is to stalk your podium rivals on social media and try to replicate their off-season training plan in hopes of making huge performance gains, this is a terrible idea. As I alluded to in my previous point, everyone has different strengths and weaknesses and will thrive off of a customized training plan. Once you and your coach have determined your weaknesses, the off-season is a great time to focus on these. For example, if you determine that your legs are always hurting at the end of a race but you feel that your breathing is under control, that may be a sign to implement a strength training program into your training regimen during the off-season and beyond.
Whether or not you’re planning for an upcoming season of racing or only a single event, it is beneficial to be coached throughout the year. After reading this post, you may still be thinking about trying to save money by not being coached in order to purchase expensive triathlon equipment or register for a race. If this is the case, I’d suggest asking your coach if they offer cheaper or less hands-on training options (my guess is they will). Whatever option you decide to go with, having a coach by your side throughout the year will help to set you up for success in the season(s) to come.