The 2016 off-season has come and gone—and the 2017 is underway—so it’s a good time to recap the past three months and talk about where my training currently stands.
After my final triathlon of the 2016 campaign in August, I had mixed feelings about shutting things down and heading into the off-season. Physically, I felt like I was only just starting to scratch the surface of months of concentrated work; as the season progressed, I felt stronger and more confident across the disciplines. Mentally, though, I needed a break. Between changing jobs and moving apartments, lots of life stuff happened aside from swimming, biking, and running. I absolutely love the multi-sport lifestyle, but I definitely needed time away from structured training. So as I eased into Sloth Week—the glorious seven days in which I did no physical activity—I told myself once I started up again, I would do whatever I wanted, only.
An epic, homemade, three-tiered snickerdoodle cake from the Bearcat masters holiday party
As I started sweating again, I did some swimming, running, and even some rowing, but absolutely no cycling. For more than three months—sixteen weeks to be exact—I avoided my bike. Honestly, I’m still shocked and surprised this happened, but after my final race of the season, my desire to ride vanished. Instead, I wanted to swim all the meters and run all the miles—and my coach was completely on board. So that’s what we did: logged laps in the pool at Baruch College with my Bearcat buds and ran miles in Central Park. I embraced this identity transformation, fell in love with the process, and found ultimately joy in the water and on the road. No longer did each session seem like something I “had” to do. Rather, each stroke, each footstrike became an opportunity to get the best out of myself. There’s no doubt spending time on my not-as-strong sports will prove beneficial, especially since my “A” race in 2017 is a swim-run stage event. (More on that later.)
Spoiler alert: I did reach the point where I wanted to get back on my bike. That was the plan all along—spend some time away so I’d feel fresh and rejuvenated when it came time to start smashing watts again. It worked because riding brings positivity again: I love it, and I love being around my Tailwind peeps. We’re slowly ramping it up—cycling twice a week indoors—and I feel like my normal triathlete self. I’m also very at peace with how the off-season transpired. I did what I needed to do to put myself in a position to succeed—both during this season and beyond.
On the bike, I’ve noticed a shift in my mentality. Most of my riding thus far has been in zone two with the goal of building my base. Last year, those easy endurance miles were the bane of my existence. They made me ancy. Give me threshold, give me VO2 max, let me touch the fire and feel the burn. But today, I am perfectly fine with it. Like my swim and run workouts, I no longer view zone two as a place I “have” to spend time, but I want to. It is part of the process, and it completes the process. Always trust the process.
My race schedule is almost solidified, and it looks a bit different from past years. Improving, maturing, and ultimately becoming faster are still goals, but another component we’re focusing on this year is further developing my race experience portfolio, leaving my comfort zone, and finding happiness in the process.
What are you looking forward to this year?