Snow, ice, freezing temperatures, and sloppy roads—time to curl up with a good book and a warm drink, right? It may sound great, but this is not the winter plan for the triathlete. Race season may be over, but winter offers plenty of training options—even some suited specifically for race-free months. We did the legwork for you and found these great tips for how you can sharpen your skills and improve your finish time in off-season.
- Off-season marathon — While that January or February marathon seems to be just what you need to keep prepped for the first triathlon on your calendar, skipping it if favor of shorter, more intense runs may prove to be a better way to spend your time. You can already handle the volume, so work on efficiency and speed. Push yourself during the off-season on harder, more intense workouts while your body has more time to recover without risking a race-day meltdown.
- Hit the gym for strength training – During race season, a day of heavy lifting in the gym may spell disaster on race day. But during the winter, you can take time to rebuild the muscles you’ve been shredding race after race for months. With no race coming up, you’ll have plenty of time to recover. Studies have shown that heavy weight training can improve efficiency on race day. Weight training will also result in more resilient muscles, which take a beating race after race, and will give you the strength and stamina you need to finish strong.
- Build your aerobic endurance – The triathlon is a competition of endurance. So, during the off-season, focus on identifying your aerobic endurance level (how many miles you run or laps you swim at heartrate x). You can then train to improve these levels, resulting in more miles, power, and laps at that same heartrate.
- Improver your swim technique – For most triathletes, swimming is the weakest skill in the athletic tool box. You’ve got the aerobic endurance, your run game is strong and you can cycle with the best of ‘em. This is good news because you’ve got to make up those three minutes you lost during the swim! Find a coach/trainer specifically for swimming. Get a session or two, focus hard on those lessons for a few weeks, then book another session. Repeat as needed.
- Disconnect from triathlon training – Not completely. But significantly. Race season will be hectic. You’ll be away from friends and family, lawns and chores for a while. Invest in these things as much as possible during these slower months. Your family supports you at races and your friends cheer you on. Make sure you spend some time in the off-season giving them what they need, reconnecting, and pitching in as much as possible.
- Remember: it is winter out there! – This seems obvious, but remember the changes winter brings: it will get dark earlier and things freeze! If you’re going to run or cycle outside, pick up an insulated water bottle to prevent your hydration plan from freezing up. Wear reflective clothing or lights if you’re headed out in the late afternoon or evening. Keep your hands, feet, face, and legs warm. Too much chill in these areas can lead to injury and decreased metabolic performance.
As with any training tips, there are many more great ideas. What works best for you? How do you make the most of the winter months? We’d love to hear from you. Comment below or start a conversation with us over on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. As always, you can pick up HOTSHOT anytime at our website. Best wishes for your winter training!
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