After the big fall races of the triathlon year, many of you will be entering the Transition Phase of your training. The Transition Phase is about the closest thing we get to an off-season in triathlon. Keep in mind that if you take thirty days completely off from any form of exercise you essentially lose all of the fitness that you have worked so hard to obtain. However, if you reduce training volumes to near 50% of normal, you lose essentially no fitness. Using these principals, you can structure the Transition Phase of your annual training plan.
The Transition Phase typically follows your highest intensity work or highest volume work or the year, usually after your big “A” race. These high intensity/high volume workouts are very stressful and if done for too long can lead to burnout, injury, and decreasing performances. The purpose of the Transition Phase is to reduce training loads to bare minimum so the athlete can recover mentally and physically from a hard season, but still do enough training so that a baseline of fitness is maintained and body weight is maintained.
The period can last from two to six weeks depending on the athlete. This is one of the most important periods of the year as it allows your body to heal and your mind to get motivated for the next season. To train hard during this time is to risk being burned out by the time the spring races arrive.
During the Transition Phase, you can expect low key level 1-2 workouts of short duration just enough to keep fit but not enough to be very taxing. This is a great time of year to leave the gadgets behind and just trust perceived exertion. It is also a great time to get on the mountain bike or do your runs on the trails. The idea is to recharge your body and mind and get ready for the steady buildup of training for the next season.
Any workout can be skipped during the Transition Phase. If you feel like sleeping in, then this is the time of year to do it—Base 1 training will be here soon enough. The transition period is also a great time to reflect on the past year and set goals/objectives for the coming season.
It can be very tempting to train hard through the off-season, but if you want to achieve even greater things next season, be wise and take the down time. Your mind and body will thank you!