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10 Mistakes Most Triathletes Make In The Out Season

There is a wealth of opportunities in the Out Season to accomplish some great things to set us up properly for the upcoming season. Unfortunately a lot of us don’t take advantage of these opportunities and miss out and making our next racing season better than it could have been. Here are 10 Mistakes that I see triathletes make during the winter months.

  1. Body Composition – During the racing season a good deal of triathletes will be watching very closely the calories that they are putting into their bodies. The Out Season is a time for each athlete to relax from this calorie counting and spoil themselves a little bit. But beware about how much you spoil yourself through the holiday season though. Bob Seebohar (2008 dietician for the Olympic Triathlon Team) told me that if he had an athlete come in up to 10 pounds heavier than their race weight then there season was basically already done before it started because it was too hard to get them back down to race weight and be competitive. I know that none of us are looking for Olympic podium slots but that doesn’t mean that we don’t want to either be competitive in our age group or with our previous year’s results.
  2. Obsess Over The Numbers – It’s been a long season of tracking data. You’ve crunched numbers, poured over charts and calculated paces and watts trying to figure out how to eke out a little more result in the final races of the year. It’s time to unplug for a little while. Go for a run or a ride without a heart rate monitor or pace watch. Enjoy being outside and take in some scenery.
  3. High Volume – If you raced long course in the previous year then more than likely you’ve been doing plenty of high volume training. During the winter months when it’s dark and cold is not the time to continue that trend. The triathlon season is long and hard enough without trying to training 20 hours a week for 52 weeks a year. If this is your training method then eventually you will breakdown mentally and physically risking the upcoming season and possibly your enjoyment of the sport.
  4. Sports Nutrition – Just like our training, our nutrition needs to periodized. A huge mistake that a good deal of athletes make is continuing to consume sports bars and gels during the Out Season. If you’re training for a marathon then great, eat the sports nutrition your need for the demands of your training but if you’re cutting down on volume then these high calorie, high carb sports bars are not going to help you in the body composition area. Below is a great chart that I got from Bob Seebohar about nutrition periodization where FV is Fruits and Vegetables, LP/HF is Lean Protein and Healthy Fats, WG is Whole Grains, and SNP is Sports Nutrition Products:Nutrition Periodization
  5. Not Taking Time Off – There is a difference between “Out Season” and “Off Season.” The time that most people need to completely disconnect for a period of time each winter is the “Off Season.” Staying mentally in the game year round is difficult not only on us but on our family and friends as well. Take some time in the off season to just be. Reconnect with your family and friends, let niggling injuries heal and enjoy some unstructured time. Be sure not to take too much time completely off though since you will be losing fitness. My recommendation would be to not take more than 4 weeks.
  6. Not Assessing The Previous Year – The Out Season is the perfect time to look over your previous year and think about how it all went. Make a list of what went wrong, what went right, what you learned and what you’d like to change in the upcoming season. Which leads us to…
  7. Not Setting Goals – Heading into a new season without goals makes the new season almost pointless and most definitely makes it random. Take some time to sit down and write down the goals that you have for the next year of racing. Make sure they’re S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely). For example, saying that you want to move up a step on the podium at your A race would be a good goal but saying that you want to saying that you want to run a marathon in under 4:00 next month when you’ve never run before in your life is just going to set you up for disappointment and discouragement.
  8. Ignoring Limiters – We all love to train in the sport that we’re best at. It’s fun, it’s motivating and it helps our self-esteem. All of which are typically not the results of training the sport that is our weakest. Training our limiters take a great deal of motivation to do is something that needs focus during the Out Season. If you’re a 23:00 1500m swimmer and a 1:00 10K runner then the time that you’ll have to spend in the pool to improve your swim time will be exponentially higher than the time that it will take to improve your run. The Out Season is all about Return On Investment) Where is the most bang for your buck spent?
  9. Trying To Be A “January Champion” – In Texas we have the ability to start racing pretty early in the year in comparison to other parts of the U.S. This opportunity can be your down fall if you’re not careful. If your A race is in March then by all means prepare to race it as such but if your A race isn’t until September then you’re doing yourself a disservice by trying to go into that March race in peak fitness. Your body can only peak do many times in a year. Don’t waste it on an early season race that you’re only using as a benchmark.
  10. Going To Easy and Without Purpose – If you ask any triathlete what they want to achieve in the upcoming racing season a majority of them will say that they want to get faster. This is what the Out Season is there for. Speed comes in many different ways. Improved bike fit, run form analysis, swim form work and just flat out hard workouts that stress our lactate threshold and VO2max.


Coach Patrick
USAT Level I

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