The post-season – how to get it right

Well it has been a while but I finally have a few minutes to put pen to paper. I should be at the Lido but my first cold in years has me sitting at home instead with a hot cuppa and a couple of paracetamol.

Matt Dixon of Purple Patch Fitness is a fantastic coach whose principles and ideas make a lot of sense to me. He recently wrote an article for Triathlete Europe magazine titled ‘Nailing the Post-Season’. Here are a few key points that I took from the article that might also help you.

The post season is ‘The bridge of training time between the end of one season and the serious pre-conditioning of the subsequent season‘. The post-season is not a period of inactivity or a period in which you let your fitness regress. By the end of the post-season you should be ready to progress into a pre-season conditioning phase feeling re-energised and ready to follow a planned progressive training program for the remainder of the season.

It is worth looking back on the season that has just been before looking forward to the next. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Did you finish the season as a better athlete than you started?
  • Did you manage to stick to your planned training approach?
  • Did you achieve progression and consistency in training?
  • Were any issues you faced unavoidable?
  • What did you fail to follow through on last season?

Common mistakes made in the post-season:

  • Taking a complete rest (detraining) – you may actually increase your injury risk upon return.
  • Continuing regular training – maintaining high volume and/or intensity.
  • Lack of planning – this phase should lead into the next.
  • High run volume focus – a post-season marathon does not necessarily equate to better run performances next season.
  • Low swimming focus – most triathletes will tell you their swim is their biggest weakness.

There are plenty of coaches and athletes who would argue that a high run volume focus and a low swim volume focus is perfectly acceptable. For some athletes it may be. If you are prone to running related injuries and are a relatively weak swimmer then then it makes sense to focus on your swim during this period and improve your ability to cope the physical demands of running through functional strength and short but frequent run training.

Key elements of the post-season:

  • A break – allow physical and emotional recovery from serious training.
  • Set up – it should set you up for the next phase of training.
  • Focus on elements outside of race specifics – key components you cannot focus on during the demands of the race season, for example improving technique.
  • Avoid heavy load workouts – an example would be long duration runs.
  • Maintain baseline fitness across all three disciplines.
  • Rejuvenation – you shoud finish this phase in optimal health and full of energy.

Key concepts for setting up your post-season:

  • Functional strength – strength, mobility, core stability and balance.
  • Swimming focus – aim for two key sessions per week.
  • Running frequency – keep sessions short (40-50mins) but frequent.
  • Riding freedom – try mountain biking or cyclocross and maintain one or two key turbo trainer sessions.
  • Overall flexibility – try to hit at least one key session in each discipline each week and support these with lower focused and low stress workouts.
  • Understand your priorities – swim first, functional strength second, turbo and run frequency third and lastly supporting bike and run sessions.
  • Nutrition – enjoy some treats but maintain a health body weight and composition.
  • Build the breaks – integrate ‘off weekends’ that don’t involve triathlon.

It is well worth reading the full article in the November issue of Triathlete Europe. So what do you think? By the way, that is my identical twin brother (Nathan) in the photo on the front page. See you Sunday, Tim (LFTC Coach).

2 responses to “The post-season – how to get it right

  1. Hey Tim,

    Some interesting points, defo looking forward to mixing it up over winter and trying some off road running and biking to stay fit.
    Question though…how long should ‘Post season’ last for?

  2. Good question, there are a number of variables you should consider. Perhaps the most obvious being the date and nature of your last race of the season and the date and nature of the first race of the next season. A late season long distance event will obviously require a significant period of time to recover from. In addition it is important to think about accumulated fatigue in a more general sense i.e. not just training fatigue, and previous experience. Triathletes who have been playing this game for a number of seasons may me able to ‘recover’ with a shorter post-season. I would suggest 8-12 weeks would be sufficient for most athletes. Sorry about the late reply! Tim (LFTC Coach)

Comments are closed.