The Off-Season and Highlights of 2015
It’s been nearly a month since my last post. This was not intentional at all. After Ironman Arizona I turned triathlon off for a little while, and admittedly, once the engine was off, it was difficult to get it back up and running at full steam again. But, I finally feel like I’m getting back into some rhythm. Someone asked on Facebook if I could describe what my “off-season” looks like. I think that word comes with a lot of preconceptions, so I don’t like to use it. Instead, I prefer “recovery period”. After Ironman Arizona I took a three week recovery period. This is what I did: From November 16th-22nd I did absolutely nothing related to triathlon, athletics or exercise. I even tried my best to not think about or talk about triathlon. This was difficult in the first few days, and really shines a light on the addictive side of triathlon, but by day three or four I was totally disconnected.
I should say, I felt ZERO need or desire to take a recovery period this year. On the morning of Ironman Arizona I was actually a bit sad because I knew this was going to be my last hard effort for over three weeks. I should probably rephrase that. I felt ZERO MENTAL desire to take a recovery period. I did five 70.3s and four Ironmans this year, and went as hard as I could in every single race. I started training on November 15th 2014 and never took more than three days off for a year straight. It is difficult to believe that my BODY wasn’t craving a break.
From November 23rd-29th I did some light exercise whenever I felt like it. The key word is EXERCISE. No TRAINING occurred in this period. By TRAINING, I mean structured exercise oriented towards a future goal. I think regular exercise plays an important role in proper mental and physical functioning. When I take a day or two off of exercise I begin to sense my mind becoming foggy and crowded. Nothing clears the mind better than a good swim, bike or run. As well, my digestive function also seems to have some dependence on exercise, and so after a few days off I start to feel really heavy and backed up. Thus, I think a good recovery period should still contain some light exercise. In this week I ended up doing two swims, five runs and two bikes. None of them were longer than 30 minutes, most were closer to 20 minutes.
From November 30th-6th Erin and I were in the Bahamas. We have travelled to a lot of cool places this year, but for me it is a business trip, and so I don’t get to lounge about and soak up the sun. That was exactly our goal for the Bahamas trip. I still did regular exercise (three runs and three bikes), but the vast majority of my time was spent listening to tunes, playing ping-pong and soaking up the sun. By December 7th i.e. day one of preparation for 2016, I was rested, ready and motivated to begin training. That was it for the “off-season” or “recovery period” or whatever you want to call it. Panama 70.3 on January 31st is coming quick, so it’s time to start applying the lessons learned in 2015.
2015 was a great year. There were lots of highs and lows, but most importantly, a ton of lessons were learned. Over the last few days I’ve reflected on the season and tried to come up with my top three most enjoyable / memorable / favourite moments. Here they are in order of significance:
3.) Ironman Arizona. This was my first time putting together a good race over the full-distance. It was an exciting race from start to finish, with less than ten minutes separating the top 5.
2.) Mont Tremblant 70.3. In this race, Jesse Thomas, Taylor Reid and myself ran shoulder to should for the first 10 miles of the run. I sensed one of them was hurting and so would put out a surge, then I would start to hurt and they would surge. I didn’t know who was going to win this race until the very end. There is nothing more satisfying than taking part in a good race, where you are pushed to the absolute limit.
1.) Oceanside 70.3. Ten months before this race I went up against “the big boys” for the first time at St. George 70.3 in 2014. That was a very humbling and formative experience for me as I finished 18th, ten minutes behind race winner Jan Frodeno. As well, for the first two years of my triathlon career I had a poster of Jan Frodeno up on my wall winning gold at the Beijing Olympics. In Oceanside we ran side by side for the first 5 kilometers of the run. We were bumping elbows, cutting each other off around corners, and he even handed me a cup of water when he had the inside line on the aid station. It truly was a dream come true. I remember thinking to myself in the moment, “Now this is LIVING!” Eventually he dropped me and I ended up finishing 3rd, but it is still the highlight of the season, and at this point, my career.
Thanks for being a part of this journey. I appreciate everyone who takes the time to read and follow along. Enjoy the Holidays with friends and family.
Note: Photo cred to Triathlon Magazine Canada for the Mont Tremblant 70.3 pic and Slowtwitch.com for the Oceanside 70.3 pic.