It’s cold, dark and uninviting out there. So how can you get some base training done if you leave home and get back when it’s still dark? You don’t need to save triathlon training for the weekends. Here are thetrilife.com’s top tips:
- Put some time in at the pool
The only way winter weather affects pool swimming is by making the walk back to your car a lot colder. Spend some time now working on any imperfections in your stroke, or putting down a solid aerobic base, and then you can pick up the pace as the triathlon race season approaches. We strongly advise joining a specific swimming program or local triathlon / swimming club at this time of year, to give your swim training structure and accountability. Many people find it easier to go to the pool on auto-pilot without the extra hassle of coming up with a swim training session to follow.
Top tip: just because it’s cold, you’ll still be sweating, so drink up to avoid dehydration.
- Turbo intensity
If you can’t get out on your road bike, there’s only one thing for it. Turbo training (where you slot your bike into a stand to convert it into a fixed training tool) is an amazingly effective way of training, whether your goal is base fitness, speed, power or strength. There are a huge number of sessions you can do on a turbo trainer (we can advise on the best to suit your current fitness and future goals) but they all have one thing in common: they get results without you having to put hours in on the bike.
Top tip: download some motivating playlists to your MP3 to keep you going.
– Off road running
This is a fantastic way to develop your fitness and strength over the winter months. And you can tailor your training to ensure that you are well prepared by developing off road skills and practicing off road drills.
Yes, it’s wet and muddy underfoot, but tackling that kind of terrain will teach you valuable running skills which you can put to good use in your off road races.
Hilly routes are great for building strength and boosting your cardio fitness. Either choose a hilly route and tackle each incline with gusto, or find one hill and do repeats. Make sure your hill of choice is steep enough to be challenging but not so steep that you can’t run it, and do make sure the surface is even and not too slippery. Tackle hills like you mean it: lift your knees, land lightly and pump your arms to help you power up. One or two hilly sessions per week will translate into increased fitness and speed in the Spring.
Learning to run over uneven terrain teaches you to be light on your feet. Don’t take risks – we don’t want you hurting your ankles on slippery stones – but do challenge yourself by choosing surfaces which are different to your usual roads and pavements. Go slowly if you need to, but learn to run lightly and confidently over a variety of terrains, and you’ll be faster when it’s even underfoot.
Running on the same surface all the time won’t challenge you. Choosing a variety of terrains will snap you out of any bad running technique habits and will encourage your body to adapt just like it did when you started running all those years ago. Running on grass (and other surfaces like sand and pine needles) is a great addition to your regular running routes. Not only will these terrains give your joints a welcome break from pounding the pavements, but the subtle changes underfoot will force your core and legs to adapt as you run, making you stronger.
Learning to run downhill is a valuable skill. Use your hilly off-road runs to tackle downhills once you’ve slogged your way to the top. The aim is to run in a fluid, relaxed manner, without tensing up or slowing down. With the right approach to technique and stride and with practice, you can make up valuable time during your race. If you’re nervous about running downhill, make sure your shoes give you enough stability and grip. Once you’re confident in your footwear, just let yourself go.
- Bundle up and be seen
Treadmill training isn’t for everyone: some don’t have access to a treadmill and others despise them. That’s OK, you can still road run even when daylight hours are in short supply. Choose a route which is well-lit and has pavement, and run facing traffic where possible. Invest in some quality winter kit and layer up. As a general rule of thumb, if you’re warm enough when you set out, you’ve got too many layers on. Aim to be a bit chilly so you’re comfortable once you get going.
Top tip: it’s really important to wear something high-vis. Be seen and be safe.
These are just some of the ideas we have for winter triathlon training. Get ahead of the rest and start putting some quality training in now. It’ll boost your mood as well as your fitness.