Getting your off season right can be a challenge. Do you go on a training camp? How many hours should you be putting in? Would the addition of cross-training benefit you? And so on.
To help answer some of those questions, we've spoken to pro triathlete and coach, Scott DeFilippis, to see how he's approaching his off season...
Scottie, what's the plan for you during the off season then? Any training camps in the pipeline or will you be staying on home soil?
As an athlete, I'm fortunate enough to live in San Diego where the worst part of the winter is mid-November to early January when we lack daylight. Once we get to the middle of January we might get the occasional winter storm but it rarely affects the training I plan to do.
As a coach, I'll be running a KIS Coaching Camp in California in February for five days, which should be good fun!
[We're sat in cold, dark, wet England and not jealous at all...] How's your training plan shaping up and what would a typical week during the off season look like for you?
I'll train pretty much the same amount as I will during the 'on' season, so 20-25 hours broken down into 5-6 swims, 4-5 rides, and 4-5 run sessions each week.
I won't do many rides over 4 hours until February, mainly because I feel like the body and mind need a break from the long hours. Too many super long training sessions all year can zap your hormones and kill your motivation, particularly if you've had a 'normal' season from spring to early autumn.
If there are injuries or setbacks then, of course, the year is adjusted and perhaps the long work is implemented throughout the winter months.
But, if you've had a full season, then it's best to lay off the long work during those months from November to January, so come late winter and early spring you're ready and motivated for those big sessions.
Source: Scott DeFilippis Instagram ©
Even though it's the off season and the bigger sessions take a back seat for me, the swim sessions are longer, the gym sessions take time, and so the overall training hours stay about the same as 'on' season.
Scott DeFilippis' Training Plan
Tuesday: Swim/Bike intervals
Wednesday: 3-4 hours of hills on the bike/Run off
Friday: Swim/Bike intervals
Saturday: 3-4 Hours of hills on the bike/Run off
Sunday: Long Run/Easy Swim
We noticed there's a few gym sessions in that plan, would you recommend putting a focus on your gym work during the off season then?
I really enjoy being in the gym as it offers an opportunity to get to know non-triathletes and work on something other than aerobic fitness.
During last year's off season I stuck to a strict strength-training program. I'm still not 100% convinced there's a massive benefit to be seen on the race course but as an ageing athlete I like how it makes me feel, so I'll follow a similar plan this year. I'll keep lifting throughout the season but shift to more of a maintenance program.
Last season I was lifting 3 days a week - so 2 x 1.5 hour sessions and 1 x 45 minutes, whilst I cut back on my running.
This off season I plan to only do 2 x 1-1.5 hour lifting sessions per week and increase the run volume quicker than last year.
The reason for that change is last year I was trying to gain mass (which I was able to do as I put on more than 7lbs), but that mass was quickly lost once I resumed normal run training.
The focus of last year was big heavy reps of dead lifts and squats, whereas this year we are focusing more on eccentric movements, whilst also maintaining the strength work with the dead lifts and squats.
Away from the gym, will you include any cross training in your off season plans?
Well, at the moment I'm really enjoying getting back into surfing.
I grew up surfing on the Jersey Shore, well before I took up triathlon. I find it gives me a mental break from the aerobic work and I find the more time I spend in the ocean, the more comfortable I am in open water swims. The paddling is also great for swim strength, which is something I'm always looking to improve.
I like to push the swim during the months of December to February as it's my weakness. I also believe the swim is the foundation of our sport and should be the focus when building back to fitness as it's the best discipline for the body, mind, and aerobic system!
Source: Scott DeFilippis Instagram ©
And what's your best advice for athletes approaching the festive period (and should they be avoiding the inevitable treats that come along with this time of year)?
Take the time to enjoy the holidays and indulge, but don't stuff your face. Once you're full, stop eating - it's that simple!
On Christmas Day I always give my athletes the choice of going for a ride or run, whatever they feel like. Never stop moving, even if it's just a 30-minute run, you will feel better after doing the run rather than skipping it.
Good advice, do you find maintaining motivation during the off season a challenge?
Once the mind is rested, I want to go out and race next week! But, then you quickly realise that you have weeks and weeks of work ahead of you before being ready to get to a start line.
So, resetting the body and mind, setting new goals, and then mapping out a plan how to achieve those goals is the main aim for me during off season.
Speaking of goals, what are the targets for next year?
My 2019 season ended with an epic 'crash and burn' as I had to call it a day after the swim at IM Florida. As a result, the motivation has been in the toilet for a few weeks but I'm working on my weaknesses which is giving my motivation a bit of a boost, particularly as some thoughts on 2020 goals are starting to sprout...
I'm contemplating going 'Down Under' to Australia for the first Ironman of the year after opening up at a home town 70.3. Then an Iron-distance race at the legendary Alpe d' Huez Triathlon in July is very appealing.
Thanks to Scott for his advice for off season training. Visit Keep It Simply Coaching - KISCoaching.com - for information about Scott's coaching philosophy and to find out more about his upcoming training camps.