Into the off-season

Weekly Wrap. Week 38

This is the second week, where I have no races planned, no events to attend to and no specific targets to achieve. To some it definitely will be surprising that even when there is nothing on the close-horizon to achieve, I am still training, I am still working out. With the achievements and challenges during this year, I could easily throw my legs on the sofa and just chill. While it certainly seems deserved outcome for the input I have done, my brain and heart are leaning towards completely opposite direction.

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Such fascination and excitement appeared mainly because for the last few weeks I was working within a new framework, within a plan, done by someone else and aimed for me to finish this season on a high note. And so far I am more than happy about that. There is this ease and specific carelessness to a training plan done by someone else and not yourself. You still have to work out – do not get me wrong. However the fact that you give away the ownership of structuring, making up and creating your own training sessions to someone else – now that is life! 

In addition to the enthusiasm mentioned above, these two weeks have completely changed my perception of what swimming in the pool can be. Instead of a very tedious, never changing view of the tiles in the pool, I received a very exciting amount of intervals, timings and distances. These training sessions were something I was not used to and inserted a big fun factor into my workouts in the pool. However, where it shows the most, is the preparation I have to do now, before going into the pool:

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As I am new and have not done structured workouts in the pool, it is difficult for me to remember or memorize the plan for the workout, so I write it down. On my hand. At the end of the day, I am going to bed with my hand colored like of a school pupil, who was trying cheat on a test. I hope that with time, I can somehow figure out a better way to do this.

Four off-seasons

Long time spent in the triathlon “business” means that it is also a lot of time spent in off-season for me. During those years my training and preparation for the challenges consisted of increased volume,  higher intensity training sessions, more triathlons within a year, more kilometers in each respective field. However the off-seasons were receiving less volume. Sometimes more volume. At times, the volume was sporadic and did not make sense or I was becoming triathlon’s equivalent of Forrest Gump, who felt like running. All that led to my off-season being useless to some extent.

When I was resting too much – that is a the polite way of triathletes saying they have just been plain lazy – I was gradually decreasing my ability to sustain long mileage, high intensity workouts. Furthermore, it usually led to light, continuous degradation of technique, which I built over the summertime in swimming and running disciplines. However, some training was still being done, usually core training or body training with weights and it helps me to keep the structure of work-home-sports balance.

Next we have an off-season, where I tried to over-achieve my actual season. This means that I was chasing better times, bigger goals, higher intensities. Retrospectively, this made least sense. First of all, it would make me race ready in December or January? When there are no races. Secondly, it would not give me any ground to rest. This usually led to me becoming ill mid-October. And being ill mid-October through November meant that I had to start up from ground up in the least pleasant weather. November in Lithuania is when it might snow, it pours with cold raindrops, it is almost always dark and the wind chills you to the bones. This is what I had experienced last year and it took me until January, to get back on my feet completely and start working out with an even small routine.

Then we have a real off-season. Where I am completely off sports. And this one is a roller-coaster. It starts with the first two weeks of filling my sports activities with feeding activities. Usually I am still hungry for sport events, races or sport activities, while I convince myself that I have to rest, to let my body rebuild itself. This is where hunger for sports dictates a strange logic to my mind – best way to rebuild the body, is to stuff the body with different sorts of food. And long afterwards I try to do a 180 – to replace my food activities with sports. I would call this kind of an off-season “christmasy”, because all I focus on is food. I forget what I was avoiding during training season and simply eat everything. This kind of off-season allows me to have a rested mindset, a bit disjointed from all the live-and-breathe triathlon mentality, but in general recharged. Recharged with both weight and energy. It takes some time and a lot of energy to shed the weight.

And what I am doing now, is trying to have an actual triathlete’s off-season. All this is being done with the help of my new coach. Currently we had to go around my work trips to Copenhagen, vacation to Thailand and conference visit to USA, which I would say is not the ideal way to train. Despite that, it feels good to have these workouts planned and aimed at maintaining performance, with minimum amount of investment. If this was a business case, I would say that it is the best one for an off-season, as its return of investment (ROI) is the highest. Before planning coach and I analyzed my mistakes and pitfalls of Ironman Copenhagen – I had to be very realistic and honest about what happened there. That honesty of course led me to describe experience in the past blog posts. And once most of the pitfalls were up on the surface – we are trying to recreate those failures into successes. It is the second time, I am trying to work with a coach. Overlooking the fact that it did not go well last time, I am very hopeful on the current situation and happy how it is turning out so far.

21st Century Schizoid Man

During my Ironman Copenhagen and the very first pit-stop, where I talked to my wife, I asked Dovile to prohibit me from signing up for an Ironman next year. I was very determined that I do not want to do an Ironman in 2018, because of my tiredness and how poorly I was managing it. So I stood there, participating in an Ironman and giving clear instructions to forbid me of doing the same mistake again. At that point and time, I thought that this is such a great idea – not to do an Ironman and just take a year off from it.

I think it took me a day to start reconsidering this decision and I am super glad that Dovile did not take my words seriously. Fast forward into September – and I have most of my big races and season of 2018 planned already. And of course, Ironman race is in it. On top of that I have two mid or preparation races before it – both 70.3 or Half-Ironman. One of them is in Mallorca:

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Ironman 70.3 Mallorca 2017 Swim Start/Exit.

It is going to happen in May 12th and me, Dovile and our friends Andrius & Asta are coming along. Andrius is going to compete together with me. This is going to be a refreshing experience to participate with some friends in such an event and a great throwback to our race in IM 70.3 Kraichgau 2 years ago:

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Race is going to be the toughest 70.3 to this date, with a lot of climbing and a swim in the sea, but both of us are excited and are looking forward to opening the season strong. In addition to that, we hope to make our wives happy – as this is the first race with warm weather, beautiful views, astonishing beaches and a lot of sunshine.

Afterwards I hope to take another 70.3 race, which is local and will take place in Kaunas. It is another race, which excites me, as I want to race locally, with local field and see how can I compete with my countrymen. Lastly, my schizoid mind will take me to IM Italy in Emilia-Romagna. This is a new iron-distance race, happening for the first time this year. but it looks promising and I want to race there next year. So I hope it will go all well and they will come back. It happens this Saturday, on 23rd of September, I plan to follow it and see some live action from there through streams.

In between these races, I wish to participate in Olympic triathlons, finally to properly run a marathon and avoid the mistakes I have done this season. Oh and I will be going to my first ever training camp with my coach – this is what I am super excited about. Camp is going to happen in the first week of March in Lanzarote. All signs are hinting that it is going to be hellishly difficult week, but it only builds my anticipation for that camp. When I come to stop and think about such things – I feel blessed and super lucky that I am able to think, do and get support for such things. What I have to do now, is to build up more karma to at least get even with all these beautiful things happening around me.

Random

Song of the week: King Crimson – 21st Century Schizoid Man
Reading: Haruki Murakami “Norwegian Wood”
Game: Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
Average Weight: 77,6 kg

What I did not mention is the fact that I am lately going berserk with sweets and food in general. Long gone are those days, where I was within my recommended range of eaten calories. Food is being inhaled and topped with a sweet snack, here and there. Most likely, my mind is having a redemption on me, for those summer months, where I ate plain chicken with buckwheat. I kid myself for now that everything is under control and I kid my wife – when she finds me in the kitchen, looking like a hamster with mouthful of chocolate granola 10 minutes before I am going to bed. I think I might be on to a discovery of a 5th type of the off-season – all you can eat and train a bit. I will keep you posted on the results.

2 thoughts on “Into the off-season

  1. Dude, you can`t finish a marathon and you are competing in full Ironmans. Usually i call such people morons, but this time I’ll give you a few tips.
    You do not need a coach, you are not pro athlete. You have a plan, train and eat healthy and you will achieve your goal easily.
    At least two week before training camp start preparing your body. Do longer indoor cycling and intense running. If you are planning to start hard workouts only in camp you will spend more time on recovery rather gaining strenght.
    Improve your swimming, it can be achieved by doing longer race speed intervals, or shorter bursts above race speed. Don`t wait until spring, start moving your muscles now, do at least 4 training sessions per week. Good luck.

    Like

    • Hi Stef,

      Appreciate your time reading this up and commenting here, as well as your advise! Thank you for that. In addition to what you have mentioned and what I share in my blogpost was the fact that I have gotten ill a week prior to the marathon and was unable to put in any workouts in between. In retrospective, I think I should not have pushed myself at the pace I was going. Should have taken it easier – I was ambitious, but rubbish it seems 🙂 Have a nice day!

      Like

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