Ahh… Off Season! There are so many different emotions that come to mind when you talk to a triathlete (or his family) about off season. First is relief! A hard, successful (hopefully) season is behind you. Time to focus on the holidays, put on a few pounds, and spend a little extra time with the family!

But so many athletes balk at the idea of taking a post season break! “Won’t I loose fitness?” They ask. Well… yes. But that’s kind of the point!

There is no way you can hold on to all that fitness at your peak. There’s no arguing that point. It’s just not possible. On top of that, after months of heaping stress on your body you have got to let things get back into balance. Balance in your body, balance in your life: That’s what it’s all about.

So lets take a look at what you can expect in a post season break.

1. Let your body heal

This is big. Like I mentioned before, your body has been absorbing loads of stress. It needs time to get hormones and the like back into balance. There are also the little injuries that have never had the chance to heal. They may not even be injuries per say. Just those little tweeks that sneak up on you from the constant loading of your joints and tendons.

I took a full 2 weeks off this year. No type of exercise at all (except playing games with the kids at church!!) Exactly 2 weeks after my last race, I got back on the bike for a fun ride. I rode exactly 3 times and ran once in 3 1/2 weeks since my race. That’s it.

2. Focus on your family

All the triathlon wives (or husbands) rejoice!

Now, let’s have a heart to heart. Triathlon training takes time. Our families sacrifice just as much as we do. This is the time that we can can refocus on our families. In the grand scheme of things, triathlon doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t. Family though… that is what matters. Those relationships are really what life is all about.

There is that trend you will find if you hang around triathlon forums long enough; it’s called “divorce by triathlon.” That’s ridiculous! I don’t want any of my readers to fall prey to this. It is simply misplaced priorities. During the season you have to work to balance family and triathlon. During the off season, there is no balance. Just family. Focus on your family!

3. Reassess your fitness

At some point it’s going to be time to get back into the saddle and reassess your fitness. So here is where the question comes, “how much fitness did I loose?”

Well, it all depends on how much time you took off, but in general a 5% decrease is not uncommon. I just did my first FTP test since my break and it was 6% down from my last one. Yes, you will loose fitness, so reassess and get back out there. You’ve got a good foundation to work from and you can use the rest of the off season to rebuild slowly to next season!

How has your off season gone? Did you take a break? Let me know in the comments or hit my up on Twitter!