Triathlon Training In Winter

by James Eacott

Triathlon Training In Winter

While easy, endurance work on the bike and running can still be done outdoors, winter often means shifting a significant portion of training indoors, especially when any intensity is involved. It's worth becoming friendly with indoor training because sessions provide controlled environments for structured workouts allowing triathletes to maintain consistency and focus on specific training goals such as intervals and tempo efforts. Indoor cycling on trainers or stationary bikes and treadmill running (and, of course, swimming indoors!) become key components.

However, training outdoors remains essential for building endurance and getting accustomed to varied conditions. With appropriate gear, outdoor sessions can be effective for longer, steady efforts and practicing race-specific skills. It can also be a lot more fun when done with mates and - of course - incorporating regular coffee and cake stops. 

Let's dive into how to tweak swim, bike and run training during winter.

Swim Sessions:

  • Pool Sessions: Always have a plan when you go to the pool (this isn't season-specific). Winter is a greaet time to focus on speed and technique and let the endurance slip back a bit. Get some feedback from a coach if possible and really work to hone in your technique
  • Dryland Swim Training: Volume swimming in winter is less important so you could always replace a regular swim with a strength and conditioning session that focuses on swim-specific exercises (called dryland exercises) such as resistance band pulls, core work and stretching, all of which will complement your pool sessions. Read this for handy S&C advice.

Bike Sessions:

  • Indoor Trainer Rides: Keep indoor training rides short and sweet (unless you love just crusing around Watopia) and try and complete one or two structured workouts per week. This is the place to work on power, cadence and strength. To be fair, I say keep them short and sweet but winter is a great time to set yourself outlandish sessions such as vEveresting or challenging yourself to a XX hour turbo, Masochists love indoor training!
  • High-Intensity Intervals (HIIT): Short, intense efforts followed by recovery periods are perfect for indoors. They're time-efficient and, when you don't want to be doing lots of training, are super-effective in maintaining and building fitness. Read more about indoor bike training here.
  • Outdoor Endurance Rides: Don't forget that you can still ride outdoors! Just make sure you dress appropriately for the weather and focus on longer, easy endurance efforts to build base mileage and mental endurance. Hook up with mates and make it enjoyable.

Run Sessions:

  • Treadmill Workouts: Treadmills (or dreadmills?) are your pal in the winter. A bit like indoor riding, most like to keep their time on the good ol' tredders short, but they're great for controlled pacing, incline variations and speed work
  • Hill Repeats: You will warm up fast will some hill reps. Find a suitable hill (not super-speed - you want to be able to run with good form) and use hill intervals to improve strength, power and running form
  • Tempo Runs: Find a flat piece of tarmac or canal path and hold a comfortably uncomfortable pace for an extended period - around 70.3 / half marathon pace

Winter Gear:

Choosing the right gear is crucial for outdoor training:

  • Layering: Opt for moisture-wicking base layers, insulating mid-layers and weather-resistant outer shells to manage body temperature
  • Accessories: Make use of gloves, hats, thermal socks and shoe covers help retain warmth
  • Visibility: Use reflective or high-visibility clothing for safety in low-light conditions - even in daylight hours

Dietary Adjustments:

  • Hydration: Cold weather can lead to dehydration - it's not so appealing to drink water when you're chilly - so set a reminder to drink regularly. Warm herbal teas or diluted sports drinks can also work well
  • Nutrient-Rich Foods: Consume a balanced diet with a focus on seasonal fruits, vegetables and protein sources to support recovery and immune health. We take a deep dive into Nutrition 101 here.
  • Carbohydrate Intake: Adjust carb intake according to training volume. Higher intensity or longer sessions may require increased carb consumption to fuel workouts adequately

Conclusion:

Winter triathlon training demands a balance between indoor and outdoor sessions, leveraging the advantages of each environment. Structured indoor workouts optimize intensity, while outdoor training maintains endurance and adaptability to varying conditions. Adequate gear and dietary adjustments ensure comfort, safety, and optimal performance during the colder months, setting the stage for a successful race season ahead.

Now you're all set on the training and nutrition front, get your name on one of our triathlon start-lists!

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