Transformation Through Triathlon With Michelle Dinsdale

Master Your Pre-Season

Posted Chris Articles

As I mentioned last week, many of you are entering the off season. Or as I like to call it, the pre-season. I prefer the term pre-season because this time of year is perfect to lay the foundation for an awesome 2019 season. Since your A race is many months away, now is the time to do the non-specific race work so that when the time is right to get more specific in your training your body will be ready to handle it.

The pre-season can take many forms and can have different objectives depending on you and what you want as an athlete. I find that typically there are three types of foci in the pre-season:

  1. Health and weight loss: Triathlon does not have to be all about faster times and getting on the podium! It can also mean that you just want to be healthy and lead an optimized life. If this resonates with you, now is the time to evaluate your behaviors and change your mindset. DO NOT fall into the trap of thinking that you should get down to a specific weight. That is a fool’s errand because once you hit that number chances are you will let loose and go straight back to where you started. Instead, focus on becoming aware of the emotions, behaviors, and mental patterns that lead to self-sabotaging behaviors. Once you become mindful of these, then you will be able to catch them and unpack what the root causes are. Easier said than done which is why we are here to help.  
  2. Enjoyment: Finding what you are passionate about is incredibly important. Many loathe swimming. So now is a good time to find the fun and pleasure. This could mean finding a swim group, changing up the routine, getting involved with the Masters’ swim program (or cycling or running group), even volunteering at a youth swim meet. I used to hate swimming until I started to find a meditative state. Now, I enjoy the total body engagement and feeling of moving through the water. I also found a group of swimmers who were just fun to be around. They made getting to the pool something that I wanted to do. They were also faster, so pushed me to get better. Overall, do what excites you! If you love what you are doing, then you will continue to do it.  
  3. Performance: Many triathletes–myself included–definitely fall into this group. You want to get faster and you want to take your training to the next level. However, it is hard to keep focus all year round without some sort of break. If you do not periodize your training, you risk burnout and injury before your race prep even begins. Instead of chasing PRs now, focus on all the precursors to PRs: form, power, strength, and endurance. Now would be a good time to get your swim analyzed so that you can figure out what drills to do and how to structure your training. Get into the weight room and build up your muscular strength. Do force and torque work on the bike for improved power. Use a power tower, Vasa SwimErgometer, or a towel and t-shirt in the water for improved strength and “form under pressure” work. To avoid burnout, focus your attention not on the outcome but on the process because through the process the outcomes will take care of themselves.

You may find that you have multiple goals and that two or all three of the above resonated with you. However, I would rank them and just focus on one at a time. All of these are excellent objectives for the pre-season. All of these will also give you an edge when it’s time to get race ready.

Coach Chris, Tri Swim Coach