Use the upcoming off season work on your weakest of the three disciplines.
Figure out exactly what your issue is in the water. If your technique needs work, hire a coach for 1:1 work and dedicate part of every swim of yours toward drills. If it is lack of upper body strength, focus on pull buoy sets. Above all, join a masters group and focus on getting in the water an absolute minimum of three times per week. None the three disciplines improves as much from a frequency of training as much as swimming does.
This is a tough one for those of us with long winters. There’s not cutting corners here – saddle up for some long trainer rides. If the thought spending hours alone staring at the wall in front of you isn’t appealing, check in with your LBS. Also consider getting Spin Scan and bike fit done to see if there is anything that can be done from the stand point of pedaling technique. It may sound odd, but I’ve see many athletes add 20 watts of power with no increase in heart rate just by improving their pedal stroke.
The are a number of things you can do to improve your running. An off season half-mary isn’t out of the question, but not a full marathon is rarely in any triathlete’s best interest given the long recovery time required. You could also use the off season to cut weight (more on this tomorrow). From a mechanics standpoint there are more and more coaches and running shoe shops offering gate analysis. I met with famed run coach Bobby McGee in Boulder, CO last year. Despite the small fortune it cost me for the three hour run mechanics session (yes, three hours of working on my stride) it was worth every penny.
This is the fourth in a series of ten posts dedicated to athletes thinking about their first long course race in 2012. Check back tomorrow for thoughts on Making Weight for Ironman 2012.