By Jarrod Shoemaker
The summer is ending and we are fading into fall. After a great season of training and racing it is now getting closer and closer to offseason, but it's not quite time to take time off. Personally, I do not like to take more than 1-2 weeks completely off, so I try to find a few different experiences to continue the season and push into a few new situations.
- Add in more strength sessions. As the season rolls along, most athletes cut a few things out and one of them is strength work. While this is never a good idea as strength work can help balance your muscles against the grind of constant linear movements biking and running, this can be a time to incorporate an extra strength session in place of a hard bike or run workout.
- Try out a mountain bike or cyclocross race. Road racing can be fun, but mountain biking and cyclocross racing can really push you mentally. Even if you cannot go race, trying to get outside on trails once a week can help you learn a lot about your bike handling skills. Riding on trails also can act as a great workout, hills and corners add in great power spikes.
- Find a swim race. Go out and find either a Masters swim meet or an open water swim race. These types of races will challenge you in different ways, but overall the goal is the same: to push you in a slightly different way. I used to do a Masters swim meet in December and you could swim a max of 10 events, so I signed up for some really hard ones, 400 IM, 200 Butterfly, 1000 Freestyle. It was great to challenge myself and grow.
- Enter a short triathlon. If you have been doing longer races, find a short quick sprint distance triathlon and see how fast you can go. Pushing yourself on the shorter side will ultimately help you race longer distances. This is the same idea that doing short high power intervals increases your ceiling, which allows you to be able to push your threshold up higher. Short races can be a lot of fun and you also don't have a lot of pressure - plus, you will be done in just over an hour.
- Enter a mud run or a 5k. Both of those races can be quite fun and a change of pace. We are all competitive, so you can still “win”, and a mud run can be pretty entertaining as you will have obstacles that you are not entirely used to.
- Spend some time talking to you coach. Talk to your coach about your season, what went well, what you’d like to change. I find that the month or two after your peak race can be a great time to try out small changes to training to see how the go. Switching out one bike a week for a swim or adding in a BRIC workout every week to see how it feels. This is a great time to test some new strategies.
These are just a few ideas for what to do after your goal race is over, but the main idea is to try something a bit different. The worst thing to do is just to stop training. Pick something that seems fun and go for it. Challenge yourself mentally and physically before taking a few weeks off and looking ahead towards next year.