I guess it is not so unusual in the world of triathlon to see blog posts about how the offseason is going for people.
Last year at around this time I decided to take a break from posting my offseason training. My decision was precipitated by a sequence of sickness. A string of colds that saw me complete only a scant 30 minutes of training in a two week period of time. Writing about training – or what little I was able to do – had turned into a DE-motivation for me. So I stopped. No reason to beat myself up for what my body was not able to produce. Instead I focused on healing myself, and enjoying time with friends and family.
This year though… This year I WANT to write about what I have been up to. Because what I have chosen to focus on IS WORKING.
I decided in September to place my focus squarely on core and strength. To make sure that I got time in the pool, on the bike, and on the Alter-G too – as and when. But my priority, above all else and when I was sick or jetlagged or choosing between two things when I only had time for one, was to DO THE BODY CONDITIONING.
I have said for years that I believe that general strength is my limiting factor. I believe that I have hit the wall with swimming, that even if I improve my technique, that true gains will only come with strength work. And with my knee and running, damage control will only happen if I have the muscle strength that allows me to avoid fatigue and defaulting back to quad dominated form.
Strength strength strength!
So this offseason has seen me in the gym. Weekly with Tom Dyer of UCFitness, as well as at bootcamp. Working on gains. Learning to make the “mind muscle connection” and to focus on firing my muscles, feeling the engagement of the “correct” muscle groups, working on making my weaknesses stronger.
And you know what? I think it is working.
On Mondays I am in the pool working with my coach Tim Denyer of Red Top. I know. If you don’t have a photo it never happened.
Mondays haven’t happened as this is a picture from the weekend at London Fields Lido, not my Monday pool. Because I like the lido more…
Apparently something also hasn’t happening if you don’t blog about it.
So on that note, here’s a mini-swim update. As a part of figuring out my swim training path for the coming months, Tim had to know where I was at with my swimming. So we did a test. A right side versus left side test. Historically I have been extremely weak with nearly a 10 second difference between my sides over 100m. He has urged me for the past year to focus on strength work. So the time had come to see if a few months of work was starting to pay off.
With our non-scientific method of measuring right versus left (if I told you how I’d have to kill you) I am now about even. Strong on both sides. In fact, I feel as if I know how to engage my left side “easier” than engaging my right side. Go figure!
I wish I could tell you that getting strong – building that mind-muscle connection – has been as easy as my brain telling my muscles to get strong, to work more and in the correct way, and that it and didn’t require lifting a finger. But I can’t. Wishful thinking does not lead to gains. Hard work does. And work I have been doing. I’ve ached so badly that I laughter was avoided. My arms regularly feel so dead that when I’m in the pool I feel like I can’t lift them out of the water or pull them through the water.
But working hard – and through the aftermath of the hard work – seems to be working. So far. Instead of losing form through fatigue, I’m now able to focus on form as I can hold good form through the stroke – because I am stronger.
Clearly the true test will come once I am back into a fitness phase of training. But for now – it is maintain and gain. Aching abs and dead arms. Tight back to front, engaged lats and power pulling. Here’s to the offseason!