How do you deal with the off-season slump?

Rows of medals

I’ll be honest that I’ve been in a bit of a slump recently. I spent the first half of the year building up to Ironman Dublin 70.3 in August and the Scilly Swim Challenge in September and those events were immediately followed by the Tour de Y. I then realised that I was at the top of my tri club’s merit table (a competition where you get points based on the number of events you do and their distance), so I did loads of other events. Then I moved house and went on holiday and then I came home and back to reality.

Unfortunately, the reality was that I felt totally burned out.

This has had a lot of knock-on consequences:

  • My training schedule has changed (planned group classes have been cancelled) and instead of dealing with it, I’ve panicked and done no training
  • The lack of training means I have felt too embarrassed about it to come back to my blog
  • This has made me feel slightly depressed, which has made me make unwise food choices

With the sum total of all of this being that my motivation has slumped.

However, I’m not a quitter and I know that my feelings are not unique. At the end of a season or training block, many athletes will be feeling the effects of both mental and physical fatigue. So, what am I going to do about it and what could you do in the same situation?

I’m going to draw on the three Ps: plan, positivity and people.


  • Focus on what you can control

I am going to go back to my training schedule and see how it can be tweaked. It’s better to do something, even if it’s not what I originally planned to do. I am also going to eat well and sleep well.

  • Keep long-term goals visible

The house move means that I now have an entire room (*a very small one) for training in. I’ve put up my medals and trophies as well as a couple of motivational pictures, but haven’t managed to get up my race number yet. I’m also hoping to put up a motivation board that will remind me of my long-term goal of completing an Ironman.

  • Set short-term goals

I’m going to work on some very short-term goals that I know I can achieve, such as attending all of my planned training sessions for a fortnight. Hopefully, that will be enough to kickstart my training mojo.



  • Consider the progress you’ve made

Although I’m feeling a bit down right now when I consider what I’ve achieved this year I realise that I should be feeling proud. I achieved various running PBs this year, including a 5k PB and my first ever race win (Brutal 10); I cycled my first century and swam over 15km in one day, as well as getting PBs at most triathlon distances.

  • There’s no bad weather, only bad clothing.

Although the weather seems a little bleak, that’s not an excuse for not training. When my turbo room is ready, I’ll be able to cycle indoors every day. I’ll also consider treating myself to new seasonal kit.



  • Find friends who are pursuing the same goals as you.

I have a 10-mile race coming up in a couple of weeks, so I’m going to ask around to find out whether any of my friends are going to be doing this race and whether they want to get in a couple of training runs with me.

I am also going to go out cycling with a friend who has not done much cycling before. This will be an opportunity for me to share some of my experience without feeling that I have to push myself.

Have you experienced an off-season slump? How did you deal with it?

Although I’ve not been training as much as I should recently, I have managed to fit in some training. Last Monday, I managed to drag myself back to STC swimming. I think I’m swimming quite well at the moment, but the tightness in my shoulders in hindering my progress, so that’s something I need to work on this winter.

On Saturday, I went to Eastleigh parkrun for the first time in a very long time. Eastleigh parkrun is where I first started running, back in August 2010. It was my friend Teri’s 100th parkrun, so she wanted to go back to where she first started running as well. The course was very muddy, but it was great fun and I enjoyed having a social run with no pressure to run fast.

Teri's 100th parkrun
Teri’s 100th parkrun

Southampton Tri Club’s Awards night was on Saturday evening. It was really nice to be able to socialise with the people I train with. However, it was strange to see people wearing smart clothes instead of lycra! My husband, Stu, was awarded a silver salver for coming 3rd in the Tri Club Merit Table. I received one for finishing top of the table 😀

Tri Club silver salver
Winner of the Tri Club Merit Table!

On Sunday I did a huge amount of gardening, which has to count as a work out. Then when it got dark, I did a bit of DIY, including putting up some medal racks and a shelf for Stu and I. The top row are Stu’s and the bottom row are my medals – left = running; centre = triathlon and right = duathlons, cycling and swimming. I’ve included both photos so that you can see my favourite print… if you want one, you’ll need to track down Katherine Anteney from Red Hot Press.

IMG_6552 Our medal racks and trophies

This evening, I managed to get myself back in the pool again. I’ve worked out one reason why my swimming isn’t improving. My shoulders are so tight and inflexible that I can’t change my technique. I’d love to hear of any exercises I could do to improve my range of movement.

Finally… I’d love your vote in the Bloggers’ Lounge Health and Fitness category: You don’t need to sign up, so it just takes two clicks. Thank you 🙂


2 Responses

  1. I’ve hit a training slump too with a small injury and changing job. Slowly getting back running but have really lost my swimming mojo. It helps to know someone else who has found the off-season tricky, and your positive approach to getting back. Thank you

    • Big life changes (like a new job, moving house or change in relationship) can really have an impact on your training. My husband has recently changed job and although he’s only working a few more hours than he was used to, I think the mental stress of having to learn so many new procedures and meet new customers is exhausting him. I considered doing a running/exericse streak, but decided that that would put too much pressure on me. Adding an injury into the mix for you must make it even harder as it’s frustrating to have some time off and be back to where you were several months ago. A few people advised me to take some time off triathlon and try some new sports, but I didn’t think that would work for me. Good luck 🙂

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