Now that your race season is in your rear view mirror, it's time to focus on building a solid foundation for your next season of racing. What you choose to focus on in the "off season" will directly influence your next season. Many people approach the off season with goals of improving something in regards to their swimming, biking and running. This usually takes the form of many hours spent doing drills, working on skills or building strength in the gym. All of those things are important but they are only part of the picture.
What many people don't think about focusing on are the small daily habits that support your training efforts. Things like sleep, prioritizing recovery and mobility. These are the first things to fall to the wayside once training volume starts to ramp up. I am 100% guilty of this, especially with mobility work. I've made a promise to myself to make this a priority in my off season with the goal of developing this into a habit. Here are some of my tips on tackling it all.
Utilize your down time
The biggest stumbling block people face is thinking they need to do an entire routine all at once. That was where I struggled. Now, I break it down. I will do 5 minutes in the morning, then another 5 minutes at lunch. Or, if I don't get the opportunity to do that, I will do it after dinner while watching a bit of TV. There is absolutely no reason you can't foam roll and stretch while watching TV.
Integrate it into another activity
This was one of the best suggestions I've heard. Add 5 minutes of mobility work to a dynamic warm up before a run or a ride and include some more in your post workout stretching. Are you starting a strength program? Doing a short mobility routine BEFORE you start lifting will help to prepare the body for additional load and will enhance movement function and overall performance. It also helps to reinforce neuromuscular connections. I will be working on two mobility routines, one for upper body days and one for lower body days that I will do before I lift any sort of weight at the gym.
So many people treat recovery as something secondary. The older you get, the more important recovery becomes. I'm not just talking about taking a rest day. I'm talking about post workout routines. What you do / eat immediately after a workout directly affects your recovery and ability to perform your next workout.
Many of us skip stretching. I'm guilty of that from time to time. Now I make sure I do at least 5 minutes of stretching post run BEFORE I even go into the house. Because the minute I go inside, I will focus on something else. Sometimes I will break my stretching out into chunks throughout the day. If I know I'm going to be spending several hours sitting, I will make a point of getting up every hour to stretch for 5 minutes or so. The most effective time I've found to stretch is actually in the evening before I go to bed. Stretching before bed helps your body enter a relaxed state more quickly and stay in a deeper sleep for longer periods of time (sleepadvisor.org). And we all know that a good night's sleep is one of the most important keys to recovery.
Once again, you can do this on the floor in front of the TV so there is no excuse. You can find a great series of stretches