One of the main things that I've learned about triathlon over the past few years is that consistency is one of the keys to performance improvements.
My plan for the off season was to focus on my run. After seeing dramatic improvement in my bike, only to struggle through my runs in each race last year, I new it was going to be necessary to work on my weaknesses, and scale back my strengths. So, I spent most of the winter running my butt off.
I utilized a combination of the BarryP plan (of Slowtwitch fame) and Jack Daniels running plan (to build speed). Just a note, Jack Daniels is a famous running coach, not the famous whiskey distiller. I've tried Jack Daniels as a solution in the past, but as you know that solution.... didn't work.
As a goal, I chose to race a half marathon on January 11th to test my speed with the goal of breaking 1:30. My previous best "open" half marathon was a 1:50ish, but I bested that in a half Ironman 3 times in a row by running a 1:40. I figured if I really made improvements, I would be able to beat a 1:30.
The training went great. I really felt myself becoming stronger as a runner, and was consistently putting out 50-60 mile weeks. Unfortunately, as the New Year hit, I was blasted with the flu. First one round of bad sinus and chest stuff, and then a round of stomach stuff. It was when the stomach flu came on that my race day came.
I was unable to get even close to my goal of sub 1:30, and clocked a painful 1:37, which consisted of quite a bit of walking. This was the first race I participated in that just wasn't fun. That said, I chose to look for the win, and recognized that I still finished a half marathon in a very respectable 1:37 while fighting a stomach flu. That, at least, would give me the confidence to know that I was still a stronger runner.
Round 3 of sickness came a couple weeks later, so as far as "consistency" is concerned, it was not the best start to 2016.
So the plan now is to keep my running fitness up, and humble myself on the bike. I rode a couple of sub- 5 hour Ironmans last year. I can afford to sacrifice 10 minutes on the bike to start the run fresher. And that's just what I'm going to do this year.
I have learned to love the offseason as a time of unstructured living. Training has become a bit of an obsession, and while that is a good outlet for me to have, it's also good to balance that out with a little bit of nonconformity. To really start missing the training, so that I love it when I come back to it. And now that I'm back to it, I am loving it again.
No more expectations this year, just out to have a good time and enjoy life, and take on the unexpected as it comes with a positive attitude.