Thirsty (for knowledge) Thursday: 10 Things You MUST Do During The Off-Season

>> Thursday, November 30, 2017

On the Team USA page of USA Triathlon, I recently came across a timely article. It was written by Christina Dorrer, who is a level II USA Triathlon coach and a level 3 cycling coach. Here's her TOP 10 THINGS TRIATHLETES MUST DO TO GET BETTER IN THE OFF SEASON, along with my 2 cents:

1. Keep moving

The term offseason should not be taken literally. Keep moving to prevent excessive weight gain and loss of all your fitness. Just be sure to decrease the volume and intensity, and mix things up! Try something new like trail running, mountain biking or Pilates. Consider exercise with motion in the frontal plane (side to side) since swimming, biking and running are all on the sagittal plane (forward and backward motion). Examples include ice skating, cross-country skiing, tennis, kickboxing and elliptical machines that push out to the side.

2. Don't burn out

Some athletes decide that the offseason is a great time to begin training for a marathon early in the new year. Others can’t resist a club competition to see who can log the most miles on the bike. Add in the online component of sharing data with programs like Strava, which allows you to compare your workouts and power output to other athletes, and you can easily run the risk of burning out. Don’t ruin the most important part of your annual training plan (ATP). Give your mind and body the recovery it deserves by following an appropriate offseason plan so you can enter the new training season feeling fresh, strong and rejuvenated.

I think I need to start an annual training plan (ATP). I need to, but I won't.

These are 2 good points to start. I took 1 week totally off (and another week with easy workouts) after the Minneapolis Halloween Half Marathon which sort of marked the end of my 2017 racing year. And now I'm doing more easy miles as to keep #2 from happening.

3. Strength train

During the base, build and racing phases of your ATP, muscular strength tends to either go into a maintenance phase or is just forgotten by many athletes. Now is the time to follow a progressive plan that builds your strength back up and reverses muscular imbalances. Strength training properly helps to prevent overuse injuries, which are generally caused by muscle imbalance.

4. Work on your weakness

How do you work on your weakest discipline while decreasing volume and without burning out during the offseason? Drills ... drills ... drills. Improve efficiency in your disciplines by spending time on technique. Include kick, catch up and one-arm only drills for swimming. On the bike focus on single-leg or high-cadence drills. For the run, consider getting an analysis done by a coach who can provide drills to correct specific issues with your current run gait.

I’m a big fan of strength training and doing “preventative maintenance” all year round. Gotta keep up those old physical therapy leg exercises. I did them yesterday, but I've left out the side-to-side motion (mentioned in #1 above). I stopped doing those 10 months ago when I had a knee issue, but I need to get those back in the routine now. EVERY P.T. I've ever talked with has said a different version of the same thing: "Runners seldom work on their legs because they think running is their leg work. But they need to work on their legs MORE than the average person to keep injuries from sneaking up!" And it's that side-to-side stuff that helps because we're only used to moving straight forward. So DO THOSE LEG EXERCISES!

And a few years ago is when I really decided to let my running (my strength) slide a little while working on my swimming and biking more (my weaknesses). Two things happened: I got faster overall, and I held off more of my nagging running injuries. But this is a good reminder to do more drills!

5. Change your nutrition

Your nutritional needs should periodize throughout the year just as your fitness does. Maintaining your race weight for any extended period is not healthy. It is natural to put on a few added pounds in the offseason. However, weight can add up quickly for those athletes who aren't careful. An endurance athlete’s daily caloric needs can diminish by as much as 500-1,000 calories in the offseason to account for the drop in volume. Most of these calories should come from carbohydrates. While overall calories and carbs decrease during the offseason, the percentage of protein on the plate should increase – which happens to help with the increased focus on strength training. Also, healthy fats are always in season.

6. Make your doctor appointments today

It’s a great time for an annual exam! Have your blood work done. Get your cholesterol checked. Let your doctor know about any unusual fatigue or symptoms. Get referrals — especially to the dermatologist since we spend a lot of time in the sun. Need a colonoscopy? Time for a mammogram? The sugary drinks and gels you trained with wreak havoc on your teeth — go see the dentist. Take care of your body inside and out while you have extra time. Just do it!

7. Maintain your equipment

Clean your bike and get it professionally maintained if you can’t do it yourself. Change the batteries in your heart rate monitors, cadence meters and power meters. Wetsuits should be washed with wetsuit or baby shampoo and stored properly — best hung folded over a hanger and not like a shirt. Check for any nicks in the rubber and patch them up. Purchase any gear you want for next year while it is on sale. Throw away unused or expired nutrition and clean out your entire gear bag.

But “expired nutrition” is the cheapest form of nutrition! (Seriously, we got a lot of expired gels at a running store a few years ago at like 80% of retail. I didn’t die.)

Oh, and regarding #5 and weight gain, I need to watch that. I’ve been slowly putting on the pounds year after year. This needs to stop one of these years (but I like food and really don’t know HOW I’ll make it stop).

8. Recognize those who support your passion

The hours we sacrifice in training is also felt in our relationships with family and friends. Having more time in the offseason provides an opportunity to rekindle these relationships. Put your loved ones first for a while and let them know how much you appreciated their support. Make lunch meetings with your friends and catch up with what is going on in their lives. Give time back to the people who love you and support your passion.

9. Plan your 2018 race season

Planning your race season in advance allows you to save money on races and allows your coach to make the best training plan for you with an accurate ATP.

10. Talk to your coach about your next season

Consult with a coach to confirm your thoughts on your next race season. A coach will help prioritize your key racing events verses those that make good training events. A coach will also make sure they are spaced appropriately and allow for adequate base, build and recovery phases. Designing an ATP that optimizes your performance and keeps you from feeling burned out is one of the most important steps to making your next season a success.

My wife and I both sort of fly by the seat of our pants when it comes to planning our seasons. We may pick out an “A” race or 2, but the rest of the races just get peppered in as the year progresses. (I told my wife to start thinking about a 70.3 for 2018 because she hasn’t raced one of those in a long time.) I need to pick an “A” race or 2, and then start building my year around that.

Happy base-building season!

For more "Thirsty Thursday" posts that highlight workouts, body science, and all kinds of interesting information, CLICK HERE. Back with some "Friday Funnies" tomorrow.


Semi-Wordless Wednesday: a Ride with a View

>> Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Yesterday, my wife didn't have to work. She and Charlie slept in a bit, I walked Henry to school, we met with Charlie's speech teacher before his preschool, and we dropped him off at preschool.


So we grabbed our bikes:

Selfie on River Road in Minneapolis.

The beautiful sights on my ride (that I mentioned in the title of this post). God is good.

We rode a bit together, and then I took off a bit faster. We got back home within a minute of each other, and she'd done 22+ miles, and I'd gone 33 miles. NICE RIDE!


Christmas Tree Hunting (and Thanksgiving)

>> Monday, November 27, 2017

Yesterday was 50 degrees here in MN, so (naturally) we went to Krueger's Tree Farm to find a tree.

My wife wanted to check out the small "untrimmed" tree field in the corner, so we hiked out to the "natural-looking" trees. Charlie liked this little one:

Spotting the tree we wanted to take home.

I did an isometric shoulder press along the trail to keep the tree out of the mud.
(We had a sled, but it was too tiny, so the tree kept rolling off.)

I Instagrammed this pic after we got home - Santa was there after we got our tree.

Charlie hugging our tree once we set it up.

We still haven't decorated it, so those pics will come later.

And here are 3 quick pics from this weekend of Thanksgiving fun:

Stenzel cousins.

My folks and their grandkids.

Charlie PASSED OUT at my Grandma's house! This is in the middle of all the noise! He had a big weekend.

Back with some training updates soon. Hope you all had a good Thanksgiving!


A Non-PR on the Bike (Featuring Goats)

>> Saturday, November 25, 2017

After mentioning in Monday’s post that I’m just “base building” right now (which I take as meaning just easy to moderate mileage and effort), I went out that afternoon to do a hard tempo ride. I did that 15.3 mile loop through St. Paul that I like to do. I nearly posted back in August that I was maybe done with hard tempo rides for the year, but I wasn’t totally sure. NOW I’m totally sure. That was brutal.

I had to quick stop to get a photo of St. Paul's invasive species-eating goats
in Crosby Farm just past Hwy 5. Yes really. (Click the link.)
The one in the middle appears to be smelling my swass.

Being I haven’t been doing rides with much effort lately, it was extra rough. It felt like an early season ride that I would describe as “sporadic” - I was never in a rhythm, and I couldn’t “settle in” to a gear and just push; I was always jumping around pedaling HARD and then coasting a bit. My PR on that loop is 21.9 mph from this past June, and this past week I did it 2 mins and 31 seconds slower at 20.6 mph.

My tempo loop through St. Paul. This was from this post in April where I hit 21.0 mph
for the first time. Since, I've been over 21 mph 4 times. But not this past week.

That was honestly right where I thought it would be. I had no delusions of being much faster than that.

Where I was a little BETTER than I had hoped was in a swim the next day. I did 3x500 because I noted in Monday's post how my swim endurance really took a hit after 6 weeks off with a sore ankle. I figured I'd probably turn in about 7:45s for the 500s. My first clocked in at 7:37, and I expected them to get slower (when usually I can negative split them). But #2 was UNDER 1:30 pace at 7:28, and I basically kept that pace for the final one at 7:29. Sure, in early August I did this workout averaging 7:18 (which is my PR for that swim), but having them just a few seconds/100 slower right now still felt good.

Well, that's another good training week in the bank. Time for another day with family, and then back to reality. Hope you all had a good Thanksgiving!


Friday Funny 1362: Police Blotter from a Rich Neighborhood

>> Friday, November 24, 2017

More funny things posted all day on my NEW Tumblr: HAPPY WEEKEND!!


Friday Funny 1361: Family Brings Joy

Tis the season: lots of time with family, and all the joy they can bring.

Lots more funny things posted all week long on my NEW Tumblr:


Friday Funny 1360: Kids Suck at Hide and Seek

Tag yourself: I'm the boy in the lampshade.

Lots more funnies on my NEW Tumblr:


"Cycle Ball" - AKA Bike Soccer

>> Wednesday, November 22, 2017

I just saw a video about soccer. With bikes. Sweet baby Jesus these men have control:

Here's another video that's the entire first half (7:00) of a game:

The video above starts off slower, but then there's more scoring in the last half of this video. And look at those perfect track stands at the 1:35 point! Holy hell!

Finally, here's a real slick video showing 2 guys training and practicing their shooting (as part of a wheel advertisement):

Who wants to take up a new sport with me? And everyone else should invest in medical supply companies, because I'll be buying a lot of gauze, ointment, and ice packs next year...


First Decent Week of "Off Season" Training

>> Monday, November 20, 2017

After 2 weeks off from running (which included 1 week off from any sort of biking or swimming as well), I now actually feel good regarding my training again. Last week was nothing special, but it had nice consistent workouts, and it looked like this:

That's 2 swims (100s and a ladder swim) for 3700 yards, 2 rides (30 miles outdoor and 70 mins on the trainer for about 52 "miles" total), and 3 runs (just easy or moderate efforts) that got me over 20 miles for the week. Nothing fancy, but still nice.

Oh, and regarding the swims: looking at my 15x100 workout, it's not apparent that I'd taken over a month off in the pool (ankle issues since the TC 10 Mile on Oct 1). I averaged 1:25 which isn't unusual. However, in the ladder workout later in the week, my time off in the pool was apparent. My "longer" intervals of 300 and 400 were slower. I lose endurance in the pool quickly, but my speed sticks around. My 400 was 6:12, when before taking the time off in the pool, I could do that decently under 6. And one of my 300s was 4:37, when lately I can keep them all under 4:30. I'll work my way back over the next 6 weeks or so.

I don't have any race on the schedule yet, so I'm just sort of "maintaining" and going into base building.


Dirty Leg and First Grade Conferences

>> Sunday, November 19, 2017

A few days ago, I went on a ride where it was 39-41 degrees, and it was a little damp. I had lots of splatter on my calf-sleeve-covered legs. When I got home and took off my calf sleeves, I had a pretty clear line on my legs where they were:

Dirty knee and pale clean skin.

Then, 2 days later, we had Henry's first-grade conferences. My wife posted this:

... and as a follow up, she posted these 2 photos with the caption "Really. Seriously. Totally my kid:"

My wife had more teeth, but my son has more ears.


Friday Funny 1359: Funny Workout Shirts

>> Friday, November 17, 2017

For the nerds. I love this one.

My brother-in-law just asked me this regarding me re-telling the story
of how he nearly electrocuted me while doing our kitchen renovation 10 years ago.

If you liked those, then check out this post from a few months ago with MORE funny workout shirts.

And check out my NEW funny tumblr page:


Friday Funny 1358: Stock Photo Musical Instrument Fails

As a photographer, I love good/bad stock photography. Here are 14 stock photography models struggling with their instruments. (via)

More funny things posted all day on my NEW Tumblr page:



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