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How long should your off-season be?

Posted by: on January, 6 2012

By Heather and Trevor Wurtele: I’m willing to bet that one of the biggest differences between an athlete that sees improvement every year, and one that struggles to hit new goals the following season, is the length of time they take for the off-season. And by off-season, we mean not doing any triathlon training at all. So, how long is an appropriate recovery from the year spent racing and training? Look for about 2 weeks of ‘doing whatever’ before getting back into some form of structured training. Two weeks may not seem like a long time, but when you factor in the number of times you’ve tapered and recovered through the year, those days of recovery really start to add up.

Look at a typical Ironman taper and recovery – for us as professionals it’s two weeks on either side. Two week taper where we continue to train, but at about half the volume of our big training weeks. Then the recovery, in general we give it two weeks of easy ‘get out and move’ type training before getting back into the swing of things, building up to normal volume. After our last big race of the year we’ll use that two weeks recovery period as our off-season (no tri training required). For a Half Iron distance race the taper and recovery is even shorter – maybe a 4 day limited taper and a few days easy recovery training post race. So, if you were to do 2 Ironman races in a year – that’s already 2 MONTHS of easy training. Pretty hard to justify a long off season with that sort of downtime already incorporated into the year – at least if you’re serious about improving.

If you train consistently throughout the year, your body won’t NEED the extended off season.