It’s that time of year again (for athletes in the northern hemisphere). I’m not talking about when you drink so much egg nog that you can’t bear the thought of putting your speedo on in front of others. I’m talking about the off season. Some love it, others… not so much.
Professional cross triathlete Jan Pyott from Grindelwald, Switzerland shares his thoughts on the off season and why he feels it is an integral part of the year.
My very first triathlon was in 1996, racing a sprint as a junior in Spiezathlon, Switzerland. I had only 5 months of training in and was able to win the race overall. Since then, triathlon has become the center of my life and a few years later my profession. Next year I am racing my 20th season and I have learned many things along the way, such as the importance of the “off season”.
The off season is the period between two seasons, the one you just have completed and the future one you are about to prepare for. For me the off season is the time I take off from structured training and do not follow any plan, regimen or goal for a few weeks. During this time of the year I give my body a lot of rest, sleeping more, eating things I like (all the things I usually would not touch), meeting friends, taking care of injuries, and plan future goals. Many of these activities take up the time in a day I would dedicate to training, but it is exactly this recovering and planning that will make you stronger in the long run. In 2015 I raced on 4 continents in 27 races and logged over 1000 training hours. With 33 years of age, my body does not recover as fast as it used to do 10 years ago, but I am very happy to say that I have had almost no injuries in my career.
I like to take 3 weeks off after the last race. Usually the last race is the XTERRA World Championships on Maui at the end of October. This race is always a highlight in the year and not only because of being the world championships, but also because it is a challenging course with the heat of Hawaii. Having a long break after is even sweeter and I look forward to it every year. The Hawaiian paradise is a great opportunity to enjoy some true vacation days. Having time to try out other sports, such as surfing, snorkeling, hiking or just doing all the touristy things are a great change.
Off season does not mean that you should stop completely training and get all antsy. I did that and got on the nerves of my friends and family by doing so. Do some training if you feel like it, but you have the chance to change the perspective of this training. Change the perspective and purpose of training to just for the fun of it. Try a new trail, or a new area, go train with somebody you have never trained before because you could not meet or you are much stronger then this other person – and go easy with them. Train without any pressure or the big road map in your head. Discover the new enjoyment in your hobby.
Off season is also the time when I update my website, training plan and research my racing schedule. It takes a lot of time to do all of these things, but each of these activities are very important. I am very lucky to live in Grindelwald, Switzerland, in the heart of the alps. This location gives me the opportunity to do a lot of fun things, such as trail running, paragliding, skiing, mountaineering, hiking and much more. In the last few weeks I discovered tons of new trails, options for my new training loops, and connected with new people of other sports and did a photoshoot on the Hardergrad above Interlaken.
Embrace the off-season as much as the hard training during the season. It will uplift your enjoyment of the sport, you will have an even bigger hunger for training and racing hard, and your body will be recovered for your first solid training phase after. Have fun in your break and plan smart – hope to see you at a future XTERRA.
— Jan Pyott
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