I had to write this article because this is a topic that so many people struggle with in the off-season. Karel takes off from everything active for a week whereas I exercise 7 days a week (give or take a day off every now and then) for about 3-4 weeks. After our "off" period from training we both enjoy the aerobic workouts which comprise our build phase of our training.
If you want to race fast and be strong in your build phase, be sure to keep up with the "exercising" in the off-season. Every triathlete needs a strong heart..don't stop exercising it!
Avoiding Off-Season Weight Gain
By: Marni Rakes
Sadly, the triathlon season is quickly coming to an end and, unless you live in a year-round warm state, the number of local running races has dwindled down to a few "chilly willy" 10Ks. Your structured routine of swimming, biking and/or running has allowed you to participate in many competitive events this past season, but now it is time to say "hello" to the off-season.
To most athletes, the off-season is a welcomed change after a long summer of high-volume training weeks. You've spent countless weeks preparing for races and the off-season allows you to relax your mind, body and soul. However, for many athletes, the off-season also brings unwanted pounds, a loss of motivation and a diet of tasty, although unhealthy, foods. While sleeping until 7:00 a.m. is a nice alternative to waking up to a 5:00 a.m. alarm, it is important that you do not get too relaxed with your laid-back training routine.
In order to avoid weight gain in the off-season, and potentially drop those extra pounds that you attempted to lose during your race season, it is critical that you stay in shape during the next four to five winter months. Staying in shape will ensure you do not comprise your upcoming competitive racing season. In other words, remove the word "training" from your vocabulary and simply exercise to stay in shape, burn calories and strengthen your heart. I promise, even if you are that type-A personality who relies on a strict schedule, you can lose weight, get stronger and gain speed in the off-season, all without sticking to a structured training routine.
Weight Loss With Exercise
You've already come to terms with your intense interval track workouts, long hours on the road and tedious hours in the pool, but the off-season should not be associated with structured activity. The off-season should be fun. You should not wake up in the morning and dread going to the gym to exercise. Your environment and choice of activities should adapt in order to keep your routine exciting.
Even though you are not training specifically for a race, exercise should be a vital component in your off-season routine. It is necessary to raise the heart rate to a moderate intensity in order to lose weight and improve cardiovascular fitness. An athlete exercising moderately on a daily basis, with a slight reduction in calories, will be able to lose weight in the off-season.
Depending on your lifestyle, mix and match the following workouts in order to stay in shape, tone up and most importantly, have fun during the off-season!
*Try to stay active for at least one hour, five to six days each week.
*Try to elevate the heart rate to 75-85 percent max heart rate for at least 30 min. of every 1 hour of exercising. If you are exercising for more than an hour, be sure to keep the exercising primarily aerobic (75-80 percent), with only a few intervals at 85-90 percent max heart rate.
Run 2-4 days a week
Workout 1: 40-45 minute run (intervals)
Workout 2: 50 minute - 1 hour run
Workout 3: 1 hour 10 minute - 1 hour 15 minute run
Workout 4: 2 x 35 minute runs (morning and evening)
Biking 2-4 days a week
Workout 1: 45-60 minute spin class
Workout 2: 2 x 45 minute spin classes (morning and evening)
Workout 3: Ride a road bike (use a trainer if weather is bad)
Workout 4: 2-2 ½ hour ride (remove odometer and enjoy being outside!)
Swimming 3-4 days a week
Workout 1: Master swim for 1 hour
Workout 2: 30-45 minute continuous swim
Workout 3: Repeating 100's or 200's (yards or meters) w/ 15-30 second rest
Workout 4: Repeating 300-400's (yards or meters) w/ 4-8, 50's all-out kick in between
Weight lifting 2-3 days a week
Workout 1: 4 exercises upper body, 4 exercises lower body. 300 abdominal exercises. 3 x 15 repetitions
Workout 2: Upper body. 400 abdominal exercises. 2 x 20 repetitions
Workout 3: Lower body. 400 abdominal exercises. 2 x 20 repetitions
Other types of activities for any day of the week:
Washing your car
Walking the dog for an hour
Walking uphill (or up and down stairs)
Commuting on bike or by foot
Group exercise class (aerobics, kickboxing, salsa dancing, step, etc.)
Walking an hour or two with friends
Run/Walk in the park
As opposed to the competitive racing season, the off-season should embrace a training schedule that is flexible. You must find balance with training, relationships, work and extracurricular activities. Because quality is always better than quantity, do not let your off-season life revolve around your training. If you don't feel like exercising one day, enjoy the day to catch up on errands, finish chores or watch a movie. Mix up your choice of activities, so that you steer clear of the familiar monotony of your race season. Most importantly, as you are focusing on a fun, yet consistent, exercising routine, be sure to focus on the daily diet and seek ways to cut out calories in order to complement the type of activities in your off-season training plan.
This article can be found on the IronGirl.com website. Be sure to subscribe to the FREE newsletter to receive lots of great tips and the 2009 Iron Girl race schedule (for all my Iron Girls out there!)