Friday, November 2, 2012

Take a Load Off!

Ironman Florida takes place this weekend, marking the end of most triathletes’ racing seasons. It is now time to take a break. Yes, you; the triathlete who spends more time exercising in a week than most people do in a month (or a year). You need to relax for a bit.

This time of year is called the “Transition Period.” It typically runs from a couple of weeks after your last race to the beginning of your Prep Period, the time when you start getting ready to build up your aerobic base for the upcoming season.

The Transition Period usually comes at a good time. While you may be riding high after your last race-you are probably the fittest you’ve been all year-you may be a bit mentally and physically fatigued and not even realize it. I’m always surprised by how late I stay up when I take a break after my last race. Multisporters become accustomed to constant fatigue and aches and pains. These are not normal feelings. Rest and recovery are needed so your body can recharge and repair. 

(St. Teresa Beach, where I spent my first post-race weekend)
As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, use some of this time to evaluate how your triathlon season went while it’s still fresh in your mind. Also begin to plan your next season, at least the first part of it. If you’re thinking about hiring a coach, now’s the time to do your research and interviews. Don’t wait until January when they’re getting overloaded with requests and might not have any room.

The Transition Period is not intended to turn you into a couch potato. Don’t use it as an excuse to overindulge in junk food and adult beverages. But don’t beat yourself up if you relax on the diet a bit. This is the time to do it.

The activities you do in the Transition Period should be for fun rather than fitness. If you happen to miss a day or two of exercise, don’t sweat it. However, do something to stay active on most days. Take your kids and dog out for a hike at one of our local parks. Run with your spouse or friend, running their pace, not yours. Try a yoga or Pilates class. Give Stand Up Paddleboarding or kayaking a try.
Also use this time to catch up with friends and family. Instead of heading out for an early morning run, make breakfast for your family. How about running a race with your child, instead of using it as a training session? Consider volunteering at one of our local road races. You’ll gain a new appreciation for how much work goes into putting on a race after you’ve volunteered for one.
(Cheering on Team McGehee at Tri the Rez. My sister did her first triathlon-woo hoo! And her and her husband won the Clydesdale and Athena categories. Way to represent! And those are my 2 adorable nieces, my up for anything parents, and my brother in law's mother)

(Me, my niece in the green, my dad proudly sporting his Harvard hat, and my niece's friend at Tri the Rez)
Don’t let yourself get distracted by your training partners and competitors who may be hammering their workouts right now. You’re not trying to be a “January Champion.” You can’t go hard all the time. Let these winter warriors burn themselves out while it’s cold outside. You’ll be the one who’s ready to tackle the challenging workouts when they count.

I like going cold turkey from swimming, biking, and running for two weeks after my last race. I start my Transition Period after that, implementing one workout a day of low intensity aerobic exercise. Yes, you will lose fitness during this time. You may even gain a couple of pounds. But you will regain your fitness and lose the pounds once you start training again. After a few weeks of unstructured easy training, you’ll be motivated and refreshed and ready for the next season.