What I Learned in the Post Season

Former Division 1 UCLA Swimmer and Newly Minted Purple Patch Pro, Laurence Delisle, Shares Her Story of Post-Season Success

I grew up swimming. From the age of three, all I can remember is being involved with swim programs. That swim career lasted all the way through college, where I competed for UCLA as a part of their prestigious swim team, competing at the Olympic Trials in 2012. However, as a swimmer, I never had a "post-season". We trained, and we trained hard all year round. I was lucky if I got Christmas Day and New Years Day off!

So, when I started working with Purple Patch under the guidance of Matt Dixon, the concept of a "post-season" was completely foreign to me. You mean I could actually enjoy the holidays? Wow! But, I also knew (given my 20-year swimming career) that two weeks out of the water would set me back 2 months, not 2 days. I headed into my first offseason eager to actually have a mental and physical break, but curious on how it would pan out. 

I approached Matt Dixon with 3 specific goals:

  1. Improve my run -- I'm a swimmer!
  2. Focus on Nutrition -- my eating patterns were scattered and emotionally based.
  3. Develop my biking skills -- like many triathletes, my turns and downhills needed practice.

Creating A Plan For The Post-Season 

These were the three things that during the season I constantly found myself frustrated with while I was racing. However, due to life stress and time constraints, these were things that were nearly impossible to focus on during the race season. At the end of last season, I sat down with Matt and discussed the steps that needed to happen to work on these weaknesses and developed a plan that I could execute.

Honestly, I used to dread runs, so Matt advised me to go "discover the beauty of San Francisco", gradually building up my running time and emphasizing trail running. I quickly fell in love with the amazing landscape that we call our backyard and soon felt that a two-hour run was too short! The switch in routine helped immensely. We also broke down my run form and focused on my weaknesses in strength training as well as some specific physical therapy sessions. I really love running now and find it relaxing and meditative. 

On the bike, I made a point of doing parking lot drills at least once a week on the advice of Purple Patch cycling coach, Paul Buick. It was a chore at first, but my confidence and enjoyment grew as I was able to might tighter and tighter U-turns and felt more in control of the bike.

Come January, I came into the pre-season LOVING running, which is something I thought I would never say! I was fit and lean after working with Matt and the Purple Patch team on how to utilize food to my advantage. For those you wondering about the role nutrition plays in performance, I highly recommend you check out Purple Patch's nutrition package, which is a bundle of information covering all the bases. I also felt comfortable maneuvering my bike around corners and navigating a range of terrain after consistently executing drills and working with cycling coach, Paul Buick, on several separate occasions.

The postseason is what set me up for success in 2017

What I did in the postseason mattered more than anything I did during the season. I came into the preseason only having to worry about my training because I knew I had worked on my weaknesses from October through December. My body was able to handle more run volume, increasing from 20mi/week to 30+ mi/week. I stopped worrying about nutrition because I finally understood it and viewed food as a critical component of my training plan to help fuel me as well as recover from workouts. Finally, I had confidence maneuvering corners and downhills on my bike, allowing me to drastically improve my bike splits this year. I no longer got dropped by training partners and the newfound skills brought my training and enjoyment to a new level.

My perspective? After your final race of the season, take two to three weeks of unstructured training. Stay active but enjoy the downtime. Then, outline your weaknesses and strengths from the past season. You probably have a pretty good idea, but a good starting point might be to think of anything you complained about! Then, COMMUNICATE these to your coach so that TOGETHER you can improve. More than anything, the off-season is the time for the athlete to take their triathlon development into their own hands. Be an active, not passive, participant in your triathlon journey. You'll thank yourself next season.