If We Were Riding’ is a weekly triathlon-ish newsletter written by Kelly O’Mara and produced by Live Feisty MediaSubscribe to get it in your inbox every Wednesday morning. You can also read past issues. This episode is from Dec. 19, 2018.


I got back from vacation around midnight on Friday, so I’m moving a little slowly. Unless it was in one of the three magazines I brought with me last week, I probably didn’t read it. What Trump news? Who?? But isn’t that what off season is all about anyway? The good news is we *will* have a podcast again on Friday. Tune in to hear all about Daytona. Plus, Sara promised she has worse race hotel/night-before-the-race stories than I do. I am skeptical.

Living my best #beachlife

I am not a person for whom off-season is a burden. I know there are Type A triathletes who struggle through the forced week of no workouts and quickly head back to hard sets at Masters or sprinting on group rides and calling it “base miles.”

I am not one of those people. I love margaritas and brownie sundaes, though I don’t recommend mixing the two. I believe in ordering all the appetizers and I believe in bottoming out. As in: You gotta hit bottom to make it to the top. (True story: We made shirts one year that said that and handed them out to random people on our bar crawl.) What this means, in a less blurry sense, is you have to regroup, recover, take a step back to get a running start. Some other metaphors.

The reality is everyone has to take some time off. The best know that. Bernard Lagat takes five weeks off of running, completely. A few years ago, I talked to a few of the top pros about what they do. They all, in various forms, take multiple weeks off. Even NFL and NBA players take time off (though they sometimes have to celebrate Christmas after Christmas, because of games on the holidays, which is funny to me).

What I tend to do is: 1. disappear — in terms of training logs or talking to coach or obsessing about race details. 2. take about a week of doing nothing — hot tubbing counts as swimming. 3. take another two weeks (or so) of whatever I feel like, easing into stuff, bike commuting and Yoga and adventure hike/runs. 4. and this is the most important one, I wait until I feel it and then I set a date to get back on a schedule and build back into things.

Because that’s what bottoming out is really about: You’ll know when you know. You’ll feel it. And then it’s time to go again.

Sara and I will talk on the podcast about our best off-season tips and why this year has been different for me.

Surprise $$$

This money isn’t exactly a secret, but maybe more people should know about it. I hadn’t fully realized how much Challenge paid to the top five in its annual points ranking (called World Bonus). First place at the end of the year gets $30,000; fifth gets $5,000. Points are based on your best six Challenge races. I only know this because Lisa Roberts came to Daytona primarily to lock down her World Bonus standing. And it worked; her fifth place solidified her ranking and got her $15,000 for the year. (Her mission also made me think it was unlikely I’d catch her, as she was highly motivated.) Same with the men’s Daytona winner, Pieter Heemeryck. It’s harder to make doing the whole series worth it if you’re US-based, where there are fewer Challenge races, but for the European athletes…

A winter challenge

Rickey Gates just finished his mission to run every street in San Francisco. (Documented on Insta.) And of course, he has a history of Big Challenges, like last year’s run across the country. But really winter is the time of so many challenges. People love running streaks and 100 x 100y in the pool. Linsey Corbin plans to swim 100,000m this month. Everesting is a thing where you aim to bike (or run) the elevation equivalent of Mt. Everest. These are all standard winter big adventures to keep people going in the dark and cold.

I know I plan to start swimming 6-7 days/week, but that’s not so much a challenge as a process goal necessary to achieve my outcome goals next year. In terms of crazy winter projects, I don’t know if I have one yet. Do you have a winter challenge?


Comments & thoughts

Some thoughts, emails, messages and notes from listeners and readers this week.

Tracy says it’s all LOLs on her commute. “Ironwomen and IWWR really bring a smile to my face.” And she doesn’t know what she’d do without Sara’s box. None of us do.

“Just wanted to give you and Kelly a massive congrats for a year of a kick-arse podcast! I look forward to it each week and really enjoy the banter you two have,” says Mel.

Plus, Sara got a whole bunch more comments in response to her newsletter takeover last week. She’ll share some on the podcast and maybe we’ll give her the keys again at some point…

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