My personal top 5 Off-season fitness activities:
Off-season is a time to take a break from a long training, racing, and competition. Our bodies are beat down, need a break, and a change of environment. Here is my go to list of fitness activities to keep you in shape, but give your muscles and mind a break from the daily training routine.
#1 Yoga/Pilates: Many folks neglect this part of training (shame on you). It is key component to help engage your core, stretch, lengthen, and relax the body. I try to make this part of my training year round, but really try to do various classes 1-2 times per week in my off season. I am lucky enough to have classes offered at my gym for free, but in any major city there are a wide variety of options. And if classes are not available, videos are perfectly fine (just make sure to check your form).
#2 Hit the Trails: I absolutely love hitting the trails. I personally prefer dirt over concrete any day of the week. Off-roading is oddly enough more gentle on the body. Constantly running on concrete beats up the body; plain and simple. And the road or TT bike is very freeing, but cars are becoming a major problem, everywhere. Mountain biking is just as fun if not more fun that hitting the road. I am obviously biased since I have been on the trails for years, but I love the variety of a good singletrack trail. Not only do you get a good hill workout it, there are obstacles such as rocks and roots, lots of wildlife, off-road folks tend to be more laid back and easy going, and you get an amazing workout from head to toe both on the bike or by foot. And during the fall months, there a lots of fun runs on the trails, and of course the ever so popular cyclocross. So if you have not ever hit the dirt, put it on the bucket list.
#3 Slide Board: Most of you are probably confused. This was a popular activity back in the 80’s and 90’s, but luckily the older gyms still have slide boards and if you play hockey, you might have a clue what I am talking about. Think fiberglass or smooth plastic surface, bumper guards, and booties. Put those booties on, get some good posture and start sliding similar to the motion of a speed skater. Many of you are probably wondering why would one want to do this? I try to incorporate this into my cross training days. It works your glutes, quads, hamstrings, hips, abs, lower back and even arms if you do some mountain climbers. It also gives you power and aids in balance and stability. It may sound a bit cheesy, but there are many workouts you can do, especially if you throw in timed intervals. So I challenge you to give it a try if it is an option for you. I promise, you will sweat…
#4 Stair Tower Training: Huh? There is a unique type of race gaining popularity during the winter months. Racing stair cases to the top of towers. In Omaha we have Trek the Tower (First National Building). And of course, there is the ever so famous Sears Tower race. If you love to cross train, like quick bursts of energy, like running and climbing stairs, are not claustrophobic, and want to race in your off-season, this is for you. And the best part about these races, is they only take minutes to complete. Since most folks cannot train outside in the winter, many take to stair cases, stair mills, and indoor tracks.
#5 Rest and Relaxation: This is probably my favorite and most important. We work our bodies really hard when we are in full race and competition mode. And the one thing we tend to forget is to relax. This could be doing absolutely nothing, to going to a movie, or my favorite, get a long deserved massage. If we do not allow our bodies to rest, the muscles never have time to fully repair. So take an extra day here or there and just chill.
This is just my personal list, there are a million other options out there. But as a triathlete and coach, these are some great tools for the off-season to keep you fit, sane, and give you some variety from the daily grind of swim-bike-run!