How To Get Most Out Of Your Winter Triathlon Training

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A study showed that increased Vitamin D levels in the body of professional soccer players hold a linear relationship with neuromuscular endurance and aerobic capacity. It should, therefore not come as a surprise that physical fitness declines in winters due to changing weather conditions.

You might blame yourself for being too lazy for not getting out of bed in the morning but mind you, there are senior athletes who also have to face the winters, and you don’t have to look farther, imagine what problems your oldie’s face during the winters.

Winters do come with their own challenges, so it is only logical to make changes to your training regime so that you make the best out of whatever is in store.

In this blog post, I am going to share with you a complete guide to winter triathlon training along with tips and tricks which will help you sail through this winter.

First, let us have a look at the preseason training challenges.

Triathlon Pre Season Training Challenges

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For triathletes planning their next triathlon in spring or summer, you have three months of winter before you.

You are completely aware that you have to utilize this time for training, but you are not sure what your goals and focus areas should be.

Pre-season does come with its own challenges.

Frozen Lakes And Closed Swimming Pools

Most swimming pools don’t have an indoor heating facility, except for a few. The regular swimming pools are mostly closed during winters. Even when open, you would find them crowded as the open timings are short and everyone wants to have a swim when the sun is out briefly.

Lake swimming does require a lot of willpower to do it in winters. Make sure to swim with a buddy and choose the location and time of day correctly. Follow proper wetsuit guidelines to protect yourself from hypothermia.

Warming Up

Your joints seem to not want to move and warm up before training looks like the hardest thing to do. This is due to the fact that your muscles become tight during winter and resist any sort of effort.

No Race

Most triathlon races are organized during the spring and summer. Therefore, by the time winter arrives, there are no races. This causes a triathlete to get off structured and systematic training as one would do for a triathlon.

Getting Up 

Perhaps, waking up in the morning is one of the toughest tasks one has to accomplish when the bed feels like heaven. It is more suitable to shift the training to the afternoon when the sun is fully out and you can get maximum time outside for training.

No Group To Train With

It is most obvious that at this time of the year, even your triathlon peers would have gone on a vacation or are enjoying the festive season. The training has taken a backseat and you are not finding the required motivation which you were finding while training in a group.

Off-Season Training Program

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What Is Base Training For Triathlon?

You have probably been offered a lot of eight-week sprint triathlon training plans and 16 week-long half iron or full iron training plans. All those training plans are race-specific training plans that prepare you for the race specifically.

Since there is a long time for your next race during the winters, the off-season is the ideal time for triathletes to prepare for the build phase of training. This phase of training is more accurately categorized, as the base phase of training, where an athlete trains to train.

A base training for a triathlon is that type of training wherein a triathlete focuses on building strength and aerobic endurance to be able to cope up with triathlon or event-specific training before the race.

When Should I Start Base Training For Triathlon?

The build phase is what follows your base phase before you ultimately compete in the race. Suppose the build phase is 12 weeks before the race, you can add the ideal 12 weeks required for base training to know when you should start base training. By this calculation, if your big race is in the month of June, you ought to start base training by the start of December.

How Do You Train For A Triathlon In Off-Season?

In order to train for a triathlon in winter/ off-season, one has to keep in mind that the race day is still months away and therefore, it is beneficial to keep the pace steady and build up slowly, in order to avoid the risk of injuries. 

Training needs to be done at a lower intensity which helps the body utilize the stored fat, thus helping to maintain weight, which in itself is a challenge in winters.

Another benefit of low-intensity training is that it is more sociable and group friendly. However, one should be wary of the fact that training should not become unchallenging, and therefore it is important to include intervals that gradually up the tempo and pace of training.

Also Read: How To Qualify For Ironman Kona in 2021
A Beginners Guide On How To Swim In A triathlon
How To Start Training for A Triathlon: 5 Tips

How To Maintain Triathlon Training: Tips And Hacks 

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As earlier discussed, winter does bring significant changes to the way you train but with the right approach and making certain modifications to your overall regime, we don’t see any reason you can’t get the best out of the base phase.

Here, I am going to recommend a few tips which can be very helpful in building up strength and triathlon endurance for all three disciplines.

Swimming Tips

Get a coach 

It is a sure shot way to improve upon your technique since swimming is the most technical of all the three sports. A coach will help you to overcome any flaws in your technique whatsoever.

Swim A Lot 

The secret to improving swim endurance is swimming as much as you can. Have more and more of those strength, drill, technique, and threshold sessions to improve every aspect of your swim.

Join A Swim Club

You cannot improve swimming until you have a peer group you can train with. Join an indoor club with heated indoor pools where you will be comfortable spending more and more time.

Use Add-Ons

Since base training is more about gaining strength, use paddles, kickboards which will help build the strength of specific muscle groups.

Running Tips

Go Cross Country

What better than hitting the trails when you have to be soft on your knees and also build up strength and endurance. Trail running is both thrilling as well as a great option to increase endurance and strength. 

Shed The Layers

Runners have a tendency to wear thick and multiple layers to keep themselves warm for the run, only to sweat too early and feel cold and uncomfortable.

Try and start your runs feeling a little cold and wearing a single layer, this is only going to help as soon as you warm up.

It is however important to cover your extremities such as hands, ears, and head which release the largest amounts of heat from the body.

Get Gripped 

Running on icy roads and slippery stretches is an injury risk. Switch over to spiked shoes for better grip, which is also helpful for good gripping during hill training intervals in the outdoors.

Dont Try A Marathon

The aim is to build strength across all three disciplines, and not increase the chances of injury by over-committing to one sport.

A marathon can be a good way to become a good runner, but definitely not a good triathlete, especially in the base phase.

See And Be Seen 

Be sure to use low-intensity headlights if you are used to running during dark hours. Secondly, use reflective clothing on all sides, front, back, and sides, so that you are easily spotted from all directions to the approaching vehicles.

Switch The Zones

High-intensity workouts in the fall can cause a chilling effect after overheating. Also, being at the same pace and the same zone can lead to dull sessions, leading to zero gains. It is beneficial to start with warming up for 10 minutes in zone 1/2  followed by a good trail run in zone 3, and finally falling back to zone 3. A pyramidical run with smooth switching between zones is also a good option.

Cycling Tips

Get your bike winter ready

Have full-length mudguards installed on your bike to keep your back dry from all the mud on the roads

Have wider tires installed on your bike for a safer ride during winter when the roads are skid prone.

Don’t forget to place front and side LED lights if you are used to cycling in darker hours.

Also, gearless or mountain bikes are a great option for strength training as they allow for a high pedal rate on plain surfaces, increasing your speed, and working upon thigh muscles during the ascent.

Protect Your Extremes

Ears, hands, and head release the greatest heat, which can make you chilly on the bike. Be sure to wear a helmet and good-quality gloves for the bike. Avoid any entry points such as cuff gaps or neck gaps from where cold air can enter your body.

Use waterproof cycling shoes along with knee-length socks. Have ventilation and drainage holes in your shoes for any contingencies.

Join A Cycling Club

It’s best to train as a group where you can improve as well as enjoy your group rides. Cycling clubs very commonly practice chain gang rides, wherein cyclists take turns to be the lead cyclist and also perform drafting.

General Tips

Try Duathlons

Duathlon is a good way to train yourself for cycling and running, especially during winters when swimming events have taken a backseat.

Try Fitness Trails

Fitness trails have a provision for strength training such as pull-up bars, dips, and equipment for lower and upper body exercises.it is best to include a fitness trail in the run training rather than going for an indoor strength training circuit 

Use Simulation To Adapt

A  sunrise alarm clock, which simulates sunrise and helps you wake at a particular time, can be very helpful in preventing you from forcing yourself to get up and start your day, feeling unmotivated to train. 

Conclusion

Remember, the goal of base training is to go through winters without injury and build sufficient strength and aerobic endurance so as to get into the build phase of the race feeling confident.

 Embrace the winters, get out in the sun, eat and train well, are the keys to becoming a better triathlete.

I hope this blog post will have given you enough insights to make an informed decision about how to progress winter triathlon training.

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