Off Season Triathlon Training And Preparing For Half IM

by Dave Forsythe
(Dubai, UAE)

I am 51, have just finished a season of 10 good sprint distance triathlons and am looking to push on next season to Olympic distance races. By the summer of 2013 I would like to be in shape to complete a half Iron man. My questions are:

  1. What should I be doing for the 2 months of my off-season

  2. How can I plan ahead for over a year from now to do a half IM?

Intelligent Triathlon Training replies:

If you’ve been training and racing hard for a number of months it is important to have a break - from both a physical and mental perspective. Most people will need a bit of a change so they can refresh and re-focus. If you don’t, by the time you get to your main aim in 2013 you may well be losing motivation and be too tired from the training. Your body also adapts well to a change in physical stimulus. So you may lose some form in the short term but you can expect to then bounce back beyond previous levels.

Even if you are worried about losing some conditioning the worst thing to do is carry on training properly. Anything up to about 2 weeks of inactivity will have limited effect on fitness. Its main impact would be on your form. So when you start again you might feel sluggish and unfit, but within a couple more weeks you will be back to normal.

After about 2 weeks of not training you will slowly begin to lose fitness. If you have been really working hard then this may be a necessary evil to ensure you are in the best shape later in the year.

2 months would be a long time to do nothing, but you may want to think about mixing some swimming, cycling and running with other activities.

So have a holiday, don’t do any training, then when back go for a social ride with friends, or a steady jog every now and then, but go on feel rather than setting yourself a schedule. Try some different things, such as mountain biking, hiking, or other sports or activities - things that keep you physically active that will be enjoyable but not on a strict programme.

Triathlon-profile-plannerWith regards the planning ahead, have a look at our training plan download. Think about the things you need to work on to be able to perform as you want and review this every 2 - 3 months to see if you are on track.

Start thinking about major races that will help you build to the aim. So this would be a half marathon, a long cycle sportive or open water swim races, as well as triathlons. Put them into the plan.

If you just want to get round the half Ironman then you will only need to be getting up to the distances required in the last few weeks before the event, so you can build up steadily.

However if you have an ambitious time target or you want to race a friend then you will need to be more aggressive in your plan.

The plan should start with the fundamentals and consider things that may take longer to develop. So if you are not a strong technical swimmer, learning good technique takes time, so plan this to begin early. If you are a strong rider, you may be able to leave some of the harder/longer riding until later in the programme, spending more time early on working on your swim or run or both.

At the moment we only have sprint, Olympic and Ironman plans on the site but we will be putting a half-Ironman plan up soon so keep an eye out for that.

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Aug 25, 2013
this sure hit home,,,thanks
by: linda

Ive been doing triathlons for four seasons. Mostly sprints. Two half's under my belt. Three sprints this year..getting a PR each time, last one on 8/11/13 I stood on the podium-first place in my age group. .25 mile swim 9:47, 10 mile bike 30:40 and ugh...a 5k of 38:00 HAHA Slow and steady!!I rested for a week. I have--had--a half in September and really wanted to get a PR. But I took a header on my bike last week. Im ok but bruised. I cancelled my half because I didnt feel I would be physically ready for it, depending on how I heal, and I needed to get the refund. Anyway...long story short. I am doing a half in June, and I keep making and changing training plans because this injury wasnt planned and it kinda disrupted what I should be doing. So with your advice I feel better knowing that its really okay to take a few weeks off to recover. And only then can I ease my way back into a training schedule. At least I went out with a happy smile on my face this season. Thanks

Jun 10, 2012
by: Dave Forsythe

Thanks very much for your help and advice. Looking forward to the 2 weeks off!

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