What is an Off Season Anyway?
Posted on November 05 2019
This is not a drill: at long last, it’s the offseason (for 99% of us). You finally have time to - dare we say it?! - watch TV, do laundry, be social. Deep breaths. We know. It’s both exhilarating and daunting.
When one works as hard as we know our amazing customers do, the offseason is a welcome break from the intensity of swim, bike, run, repeat that takes over our lives for most of the year. While we love the dawn patrol runs and hundred mile rides to funky mountain towns, we'd really like to catch up on Marvelous Mrs. Maisel while eating ice cream straight from the carton.
We also recognize that the “offseason” is a bit of a mystery to many. What does one do with all this free time? Does one train at all? Race at all? Although the offseason is meant to be restorative, questions like these can add undue stress to what should be some cozy winter months.
Michelle Simmons, a Coeur team ambassador and full-time triathlon coach of 11 years, passed along her sage advice on off seasons.
Michelle smiling while on the run at Ironman Hawaii 2019
The first thing we picked her brain about is why the post-season blues happen.
“Once [a big goal] is over, it’s really common to feel a bit lost,” says Simmons. “I find it’s helpful to anticipate that I’ll probably feel [blue] for a little while… just allow the low to take its natural course.”
Ever the coach of common sense, Simmons also recommends adding some realism to the blues by acknowledging that even if you feel “blah” now, you know that time will pass and your next race season will be here lickety split!
Speaking of big goals being over for the year, sometimes it’s hard to know what to do when swim, bike, run aren’t on the schedule. You mean to say people do other things? There are other activities I could be doing? Say what?!
Coeur Founder Kebby Holden enjoying time off the bike with Beau
Simmons encourages her athletes to pursue what feels “playful” during their offseason and reduce the pressure on themselves of sticking to SBR.
If swimming, biking, and running are what spark joy (oh, hey, Marie Kondo) and a playful attitude, then by all means continue to do those three glorious sports. Adding in social runs and fun group rides (in-person or on Zwift) can be fantastic ways to reduce the on-season performance pressures while still keeping your internal tri-geek satisfied.
Psst. Psst. But what about next year?
Ok, ok, we know. It’s hard not to think about next year’s goals.
While you don’t want to sabotage a restful offseason with anxiety about the next year, Coach Simmons lets us in on her theory:
“Race goals need to come directly from the athlete’s heart.”
Whoa. That’s deep.
But it’s true!
“I’m a big believer that the athlete needs to pick his/her own goals,” says Simmons. “A coach can give suggestions… but in order to have the motivation to do the training… and to DIG when it starts getting hard on race day, it has to be the athlete’s own heart wanting to achieve the goal.”
In fact, Simmons’ coaching hashtag is #ItsNotLuck. It’s heart!
Approach goal-setting with an open mindset, and do some personal exploration about what makes you tick. After you’ve found your why, set goals that matter to you, that make your heart flutter with excitement.
Then, go after those goals with gusto in the new year.
Now, we know that an offseason is not a welcome time of year for everyone. Sometimes, the last race of the season doesn’t go as planned. And, well, that sucks. The feelings of defeat and frustration are hard to push to the wayside.
Simmons has been in this situation herself, and offers these two trains of thought:
- If the final race was bad due to mechanical, short-term health issues (i.e. common cold), or bad weather - consider adding a “Redemption Race.”
- If the final race was bad due to a lack of fitness or strength, skip the “Redemption Race” and go all-in on improving those weaknesses during the offseason.
These are very personal decisions, so be sure to talk them through with your coach or trusted training buddy.
Lastly, don’t forget that an offseason is meant to restore and refresh the overseer of it all: our brains.
What does refreshing the brain look like to you? Put some thought into that question (while eating ice cream), give your loved ones a hug, and enjoy this precious time to rejuvenate and thank your body and mind for the hard-as-heck season you just endured. Then, giddy up for next year - we can’t wait to cheer you out on the race course.Kristin is a part-time writer and full-time marketer in higher education who has completed seven Ironman races to date. When she isn't hustling from work to training, she is hiking in the Colorado mountains, spoiling her two cats, or asking her boyfriend if he'll go pick up some pizza. Kristin currently resides in the Greater Denver Area. Feel free to drop her a line firstname.lastname@example.org