Triathlon Training in the Off Season

Female working out in the gym
January 30, 2017

Mike Ricci



A time to look back and plan ahead. Now that the triathlon season is over for us, it's time to reflect on what you achieved this year. Did we meet all our goals? Did you improve that butterfly stroke, like you said you would? Did you improve your 5k off the bike? Were you finally able to stay with the group on long rides? Triathletes should take a few hours and write down all that went right for your year and all that went wrong. Hopefully, more went right than wrong! If things didn't go the way you wanted, why didn't they? Was it lack of motivation, mental toughness, or plain old laziness? On the other hand, if things went the way you wanted, what helped you the most? Was it that you had a solid training plan, a reliable training partner, or did you drink more beer than last year? It could be any number of factors.

One of the most overlooked ways to get faster without any pain at all, and I know most people out there like to avoid pain, is to become more efficient. Learn a more efficient swim technique. Spend one day a week doing drills instead of hammering out lap after lap again. Learn to spin at a higher cadence on your bike. This will improve your cycling efficiency. Run with better form; don't cross your arms over the imaginary center line of your body. Have someone watch you and critique your form in all three sports.

Lift weights: There is no better way to lose fat, increase strength, and look better. Find a program that has different phases. Start with a light weight and increase the repetitions until you are up to thirty. Try to do three sets of this.

Find a training partner: Start working out with someone who is slightly faster than you. This will give you more incentive to get faster. I'm not talking Lance Armstrong here, just someone that makes you go a little faster on your hard days.

Train more if time allows: If you get an extra swim workout in each week, or squeeze in an extra run, it'll help you build a bigger base. A bigger base means you can go faster. If you don't think that one extra 1/2 hour a week can help think of it this way: If you can swim 1,000 yards in a 1/2 hour, run 3 miles, or bike 8 miles; that could be an extra fifty-two thousand yards a year, or 150 miles running or 400 plus miles biking. Still think that getting in the extra 1/2 hour a week isn't worth it? On top of that, you are burning another seventy-eight hundred calories.

Try a new course: Don't keep riding and running the same course over and over. Run something harder, run something easier. Change it up so you create new challenges for your body. Your body only gets stronger (i.e., faster) when you create a new variation. If you run the same five-mile loop, three times a week, guess what? You are not going to get faster.

Mix up the training: Too much snow on the roads to run or mountain bike? Take a cross-country ski class. Learn to snowshoe, cross-country ski, or ice-skating. There are many different things you can try. Take your kids sledding or better yet, take your friends sledding. You'll be surprised at how much fun you have!

By changing the program, challenging yourself to new things, and opening your mind to new and fun training obstacles, you will start the year fitter and faster than ever before.

Michael Ricci is a USAT Level II certified coach. He can be reached for personal coaching at

Coach Mike Ricci is the Founder and Head Coach for D3 Multisport.  His coaching style is ‘process-focused’ vs. ‘results-focused.’ When working with an athlete, their understanding of how and why they are improving is always going to take precedence over any race result. Yes, there is an end goal, but in over 2 decades of coaching, experience has shown him that if you do the right work, and for the right reasons, the results will follow.

Coach Mike is a USAT Level III Elite Certified Coach, Ironman University Certified Coach, and Training Peaks Level II Certified Coach. He was honored as the USAT Coach of the Year.

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