One of the first things I thought about after I crossed the finish line at the Philadelphia Marathon was getting back into the weight room. While you would never know it looking at my 160 pound body, I really get an enjoyment from lifting me some weights. Back in the day I was quite strong and almost 40 pounds heavier. My roots are old school, going back to the days of Ottmer's Iron Den in Lakewood, NJ. No heat in the winter, no AC in the summer, the most advanced machine in the place was the cable crossover. I was "the kid" and we lifted barbells and dumbbells. Back to the present day, as an "old guy" I'm still in love with some free weight fun.
One of my goals in the off season is to get stronger. If you hit the magazines and the interwebs there are a number of thoughts on getting strong for triathlon. I'll let you find that on your own. I know what has worked for me in the past - basic, multi-joint exercises. And in my world that comes down to a basic routine that focuses on two exercises: squats and deadlifts.
|This may or may not be what I looked like in a past life.|
Seriously. True story.
Sorry for the side story. Focus Jon. Focus.
If you haven't figured it out yet I am a big believer in rules. By calling them rules it forces me for some reason to stick with the plan. So even an unstructured period like I am in right now has a set of guidelines (RULES!!!) that I will stick with the best I can. And truth be told, there ends up being more structure there than I care to admit. As I get closer to January 1 my training does start to migrate from goofing around to something getting close to structured. I'll go into that as well, but first the rules:
Rule #1: No racing. You'll see me a a number of races in the next few weeks, you just won't see me racing. On Thanksgiving morning The Queen and I will be at the annual Pumpkin Pie 5k in Nazareth. Not sure who I am running with yet, but it should be an 8 minute mile pace if I'm pushing it. Might even run with The Queen. Using it as a chance to support a good cause and hang with some friends, not looking to win a pie.I like pie, but not enough to break my body down.
|This was right before I fell on my a$$!!!|
Rule #3: Stay active and cross-train, but do NOT obsess over triathlon. I took a yoga class last night and plan on hitting Ants spin class a few times this December. So looking forward to taking the mountain bike out this weekend.
Rule #4: Get strong. Not only is this hitting the weights, but also core training. Speaking of core, I'll be reviewing the book Foundation by Dr. Eric Goodman soon, which will change the way you think about core.
Rule #5: Work on correcting any muscular imbalances that last season produced. Eventually this happens to all of us. Better to take care of it now than have to deal with the injuries next race season.
Rule #6: Eat and gain some weight. It makes no sense to stay at your racing weight so I don't. The body is more durable a bit heavier and, honestly, I really, really like to eat. Besides, you're just kidding yourself if you think you will make it through the holiday season without partaking in cookies, candies, etc. For me, the normal 90% good /10% not-so-good eating becomes more like 75/25. By January 1st I should be about 5 pounds heavier than I was on November 17 and teh diet will tighten up.
Rule #7: Avoid training in poor weather conditions. I have no problem running in a 35 degree rain or riding when temperatures are in the 20s. But, not in the month of December. There is no reason to be out there when the whole point of training is to recover and take a mental break.
Now that we have the rules set out, how do we proceed for these 6 weeks? It will look something like this:
Week#1 - Almost complete rest. For me this was last week and I ran once, swam once, and sat on my trainer to spin the legs out right after the marathon. Intensity for everything was nil. I hit the weight room but made sure to ease into it, concentrating on good form. No need to get overly sore.
Week #2 - Do something every day. Most every day there will be something swim/bike/run related with a cap of 60 minutes, all at a recovery intensity. I will make sure to run 3 times during the week. Strength training continues and the weight used increases.
Weeks #3 through 6 - The intensity remains low for swim/bike/run. Over these weeks the total hours each week will increase, as will the number of workouts (which still remain short). For the run I will be back at base mileage by week #3 and increase that mileage slowly each week. Years ago I read an article in Triathlete Magazine by Mark Allen on off season training. The one recommendation he had was to continue running during this phase, due to its pounding nature. He argued (correctly) that the body loses the ability to absorb the abuse that running puts on the body when you take an extended vacation from the activity. This advice has stuck with me. Bike volume stays low and I'll visit the pool with more frequency. Strength training continues.
Of course there is one big caveat. The goal here is to be 100% physically ready for base training come the new year. If there are any lingering issues that need fixing I will back off and fix them. So if there is some compelling reason to not run I will stop.Time off in December is no big deal, while time off running in May could be huge.
So that's the simple plan. Train easy, don't race, and make sure the body feels great when it is time to start base training. Giving the body a break allows old injuries to heal, any overuse issues to subside, while working to prevent next year's potential injuries. I have no desire to be a January national champion, so I save the hard work and energy expenditure for when it is needed closer to race day.
Train hard. Stay focused.