Final Thoughts: 2014 Triathlon Off-Season

See ya in nine months, off-season! It’s been real. It’s been fun—a lot of fun. I’ve relaxed, recharged, and reconnected with non-SBR folks. I’ve embraced sleeping “in” and staying out “late.” (Both relative terms, by the way.) I enjoyed the finer things in life, including but not limited to wine, margaritas, and my grandma’s Venetian cookies.

packed-with-love-grandma

After Christmas, my grandma sent me back to the city with close to five pounds of cookies.

Suffice to say, it’s been an indulgent four months.

chocolate-covered-strawberry

Like I’m going to not eat this.

Between eating dark chocolate covered pretzels and drinking RumChata, I actually have done some legitimate work and confirmed some theories regarding said work. For example, I can drink two pineapple margaritas (or were they mango?) the night before speedwork and still string together solid repeats. (Just don’t tell Coach Pat!) In all seriousness, though, I’ve learned and improved more during this downtime than any previous off-season. Let’s recap, shall we?

I’ve embraced “me time”—and loved it. Yes, I trained with Full Throttle Endurance during the season, but for the past four months, I’ve done the majority of my workouts solo.

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Snow and solitude

Don’t get me wrong. There are benefits to training alongside others—more motivation, increased accountability, consistent feedback—but I’ve enjoyed swimming, biking, and running alone.

I’ve always been an independent, intrinsically motivated athlete. Even when playing team sports (field-hockey, basketball, and softball) back in the day, I always completed off- and pre-season workouts whether or not teammates wanted to meet up and do work together. Being dedicated and dialing in has always been non-negotiable; it has to get done. (And “it” means training, work, you name it. If you’re going to do it, then really do it.) To me, this trait is normal. But this off-season, I was reminded it isn’t “normal” for everyone. Countless times, teammates watched in awe as I did speedwork solo. “I could never do that alone” and “how do you push yourself?” became regular comments.

What this means for 2015: I’ll do a portion of my training solo. This off-season highlighted my discipline and independence. At first, I wasn’t sure how tougher, lung-busting workouts would go—especially speedwork—but as I’ve rocked 400s, 800s, and 1200s, I’ve proved to myself I can function and thrive solo; I don’t need a group to get the training done. With this renewed confidence, I will continue working with Coach Pat during the tri season. Sure, I’ll probably “lone wolf” the majority of my runs, but I’m OK with it.

fire-up-your-run-nathan-wine

Another thing I’m totally OK with: a vendor bringing branded wine to an event.

I’ve expanded my circle of friends, coaches, and mentors. Even though I did most of my running alone, I didn’t totally isolate myself: I volunteered/ran with Back on My Feet (BoMF), and I logged miles with friends; I frequented Tailwind Endurance for CompuTrainer classes and continued to build relationships with athletes and coaches. I feel very fortunate because there are so many trustworthy and knowledgeable people in my triathlon arsenal.

What this means for 2015: I’ll continue to build these relationships. Last season, I was all Full Throttle all the time. Monday through Friday, I plugged away at the gym with coaches and teammates. This year, it will be different. Yes, I’ll still race for the team, but I will continue to cultivate the relationships I’ve built and “diversify” my triathlon arsenal. Joining a masters swim team may happen (#wannabeswimmer), being a Tailwind regular will continue, and running actual races will most likely occur.

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“Cross training” while trail running in New Paltz

I’ve become better at being discerning with my training. Everyone chooses to do something different with their tri downtime. Some do yoga, some do CrossFit (ugh, don’t get me started), and some do nothing. (And there’s nothing wrong with that.) But as teammates perfected their butterfly and raced countless IMs for fun, I ran—a lot. This was not a popular move; and there was some pressure to stop running and start swimming. But I knew my training time would be better spent in my running shoes than in my TYR swimsuit. And spoiler alert: Even though I swam less than 15 times during the off-season, I’m still the lane leader for fast lane number two (but forever a #wannabeswimmer). And since my current easy runs are about a minute faster than they were during the season, I’d say I had a productive off-season.

What this means for 2015: I’ll do what’s right for me. Last year, I simply followed the team plan and did what everyone else did. And for the most part, it worked; I had some solid races, including a decent showing at Nationals. But in order to keep improving—becoming faster, growing stronger—I need an individualized plan with specific, structured sessions. This means I’ll be more “selfish” in regard to my training, and it will be an added bonus when my workouts sync up to team ones.

I feel like my best self when I’m training. All right; brace yourself for some left field action.

trail-running-new-paltz-2015-mountain

Even more New Paltz trail running

I’ve become a total fangirl of Rich Roll and his podcast, the RRP (Rich Roll podcast). He’s a plant-powered, ultra-endurance athlete and bestselling author of Finding Ultra, and in his podcast, he sits down with the best and brightest paradigm busting minds in health, fitness, nutrition, creativity, and entrepreneurship. His goal is simple: to educate, inspire and empower you to discover, unlock, and unleash your best, most authentic self. Seriously, check it out. Anyway, one universal theme that’s discussed during these conversations is self-actualization—identifying what constitutes your most authentic self, using your energy to actualize yourself, and then going out and affecting change. Honestly, I’m still figuring out what my most authentic self is exactly, but I do know I feel like myself when I’m swimming, biking, and running—not only with consistency, but also with purpose.

What this means for 2015: I’ll rededicate myself to the process. Since hopping aboard the RRP wagon, I’ve done a lot reflecting—on myself, on my goals, on my career. And bottom line, my most authentic self includes triathlon—specifically training with conviction.

jackrabbit-sports-nyc-triathlon-gear-usq

And it’s kinda cool seeing myself on the store’s wall.

Sure, racing is fun (a lot of fun), but during the season, I took the process for granted. It was all about pushing and performing, and I lost sight of purpose: growing not only as an athlete, but also as a person, and waking up with the goal of becoming better. There is a finite timeline to chasing tangible athletic accolades like swim, bike, and run splits. Sooner or later, something will give. But the desire behind this drive should remain constant, and that’s what needs to be tapped into when the going gets tough. Essentially, my training itself will not change too much—but my mindset and motivation have already shifted. I’m not totally sure where this will take me, but that’s why it’s called life, right?

Overall, I’ve matured a lot throughout the past year—both as a person and athlete—and 2015 will be much different. But I’m ready to see what it brings!

12 responses to “Final Thoughts: 2014 Triathlon Off-Season

  1. an awesome year!! love the scenic run pics. didnt know new paltz was so beautiful!

    • I didn’t either! I mean, I’ve been there for basketball games before, but never for trail running. Hope to get back up there sometime soon!

  2. Definitely going to check out Rich Roll’s podcast. Thanks for sharing! Good luck with your upcoming season!

  3. It’s so easy to lose sight of the purpose of training/racing. I would love to hear more about how your mindset and motivation have shifted over the past year. I’ve thought a lot about where I’ll hit that wall — that place where you can’t really increase your ability so you can’t get that much faster. I think it’s a ways off for me but I’m still curious about where it will be and if I’ll ever hit it (since I’m definitely not as serious an athlete as you!).

    • It’s still in the process of shifting/developing obviously, but I’m really trying to focus more on the process itself. Basically, not rushing to get from point A to point B and remembering it’s a journey. A lot of it stems from who I’m training with–my type is so hyper-competitive, which can be good, but it definitely affects my interior dialogue.

  4. I love that you’ve thoughtfully put together a plan and a purpose for your new season. Can’t wait to see what it leads to!

  5. Sounds like you are on the way to a fun and productive 2015 racing season! It is always great to train with different people, variety definitely helps keep things fresh! And there’s also nothing wrong with training alone.

    I also am a higher run mileage off season triathlete, and I don’t think that there is anything wrong with that!

    • Fresh, YES! It’s very refreshing to have a bunch of different people, personalities, and abilities to train with. And like you said, I’m really, really enjoying the alone time, which I didn’t expect to happen.

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