Off season means more time to devote to other family activities.

With race season most likely over for the majority of triathletes, indoor training is probably becoming the norm – especially if you live on the east coast or Midwest.  Chances are your family dynamics are going to change along with the training pattern, too.  There will still be time devoted to the sport, it will just take a bit different path.  There will be less time allotted to training, for a while at least; less time spent with training partners and coaches; and thus, there should be more time available for family/significant other activities. Now is the perfect time, as a triathlete, to step back and assess and reconnect with the family.

There are many suggestions out there for what the triathlete should be doing off season.  Some of these ideas include:

  • Cross training
  • Strength training
  • Refine technique
  • Take mental & physical breaks
  • Analyze performance from last season & determine what could use tweeking; work on weaknesses
  • Take up a new sport or renew an old one – go skiing, mountain biking, rock climbing, etc.
  • Set goals for next season
  • Try & stay motivated, especially in inclimant weather

But, what should you, as the trisupporter, be doing off season and how and when should you be preparing for next season?  The TriWives have some tried & true tips to make this a great time for the family before the craziness starts all over again.

  • Sit down as a couple and/or as a family and discuss what worked last season and what didn’t.  Decide what, if any, changes need to be made in training schedules, who takes which child to which class, family activities, meal preparation, etc. and ensure that the new season will be a winner for the whole family.  There should be no unspoken resentments.
  • Along the same lines, make sure everyone is still enjoying the sport and lifestyle, including the triathlete.  If the answer is no, examine the cause(s) and see if  solutions can be found to everyone’s satisfaction.  It all needs to kept in perspective, as this is a hobby for most and not how they make a living and needs to be treated as such.
  • Host a potluck for training partner families/significant others.  This is a great chance to meet new members and relax with old friends.  We have some suggestions for dishes – sides & desserts – to make as a host or to bring to a party.
  • Since many coaches recommend that triathletes find a new sport to do during the off season, why not make this a family activity.  While you may be limited based on where you live, ideas include family bike rides or hikes, indoor rock climbing, swimming, and skiing.  Perhaps plan a family 5K and run as a family when the weather gets nicer.

The family that skies together…

  • This is a perfect time to get back to regular eating patterns and not focus on dietary needs and restrictions based on race schedules.  Perhaps you can even sit down and have more family dinners together, experiment with new menus, and not have to know carb/protein/fat ratios for awhile,
  • It’s also a good time to do some Spring Cleaning and get rid of all that unused clothes and gear.  We did a great article to give you some pointers.  Be sure to check it out.
  • If not done already, this is also the time to plan next season’s races.  Most Ironman races are already sold out, but you can usually get spots through their Community Fund Program or XC.  Endurance Sports Travel and RaceQuest Travel also offer spots through their travel packages.  There are plenty of other race organizers out there such as Rev3, HITS, Life Time Tri, and Toughman and of course, always check out your local races and triclubs, so you certainly have options.  See what works time-wise and where you might want to vacation with the family or where you could at least find some entertaining things to do.
  • If you already have your schedule set, now is the time to start researching travel plans and especially for Ironman events, booking hotels, flights with frequent flier miles, etc.  Many host hotels sell out quickly, so it can’t hurt to start as soon as you book the races.  Again, to help you out, we have several articles on planning a triathlon race schedule and what to do once you’re registered.   We also do Fun & Food articles for individual races, so peruse our Travel section and check back closer to race dates for additional posts.  We will be adding many more races for 2014.

  • If you have decided on an Ironman race, check and see if a VIP Package is available.  This can really help make your race day a lot more pleasant.  Also, consider using TriBike Transport if you normally take the bike with you on an airplane.  They transport the bike to and from the race site for you, leaving one less thing for you to worry about.

We also asked several coaches, pro triathlete Brandon Marsh and Alan Kipping-Ruane, some questions about off season, as it pertains more to the trisupporter :

  1. How do you define off season?
  2. Has thinking changed over the years as to what off season means for a triathlete?
  3. Does the athlete typically go through “off season blues”?  Is there such a phenomenom?
  4. If yes to above, how can the trifamily/significant other be most supportive?
  5. How long does the off season generally last – how much time before their first race does regular training kick in again?
  6. Is an off season necessary for all athletes?
  7. What are 3 or 4 activities triathletes can add to their training mix during off season to incorporate their spouse, partner and/or children?

Check here to read their words of wisdom and advise:  Brandon Marsh and Alan Kipping-Ruane

This time in the training cycle should be one of reconnecting as a family and as noted above, assessing what works and what doesn’t as a unit and making the necessary adjustments; all to ensure that this lifestyle continues to bring enjoyment to everyone. Taking the time to do this will bring it’s rewards.