Winter Training Tips

Come rain, hail, sleet or snow - or all four - these tips from the top will help keep you in shape during winter


Posted: 18 November 2009

How to get started 

"The winter months are for base training. When the weather is bad, just keep reminding yourself of this. It's always important to have goals to drive you through the tough times." - Michelle Dillon

"Try to train with other people so you motivate each other. Do a road or cross-country race and use the treadmills together at your local gym. Join a tri club and use the sessions and advice on offer." - Tim Don

"Tell yourself that training in the miserable winter makes you a mentally stronger athlete. In the Madrid World Cup last May, athletes from hotter countries suffered with the rain and cold, whereas us tough Brits stuck it out." - Hollie Avil

"Stick to a training plan. Print it out and put it somewhere you will see it so you can't forget. And always have a backup plan in case the weather is just too bad - then you can switch and improve in another area." - Alex Lewis

"Keep racing during winter, in duathlons, run races and so on. There will be days that are no fun, but get out there and tell yourself that this is a tough sport for tough people." - Richard Hobson

"Wrap up warm and wear waterproofs so you don't feel the cold. Then just get out the door - it's never as bad as it looks." - Will Clarke

"Do the training that you really enjoy but can't do in the summer because of races: mountain biking, long rides and cross-country runs. A mountain-bike ride will keep you much warmer than road cycling, as well as giving variation in your speed." - Jonny Brownlee

How to kit yourself out 

"My Garmin 305 Forerunner Watch lets me see exactly what I have done and how fast or slow I have done it - it's a top bit of kit." - Tim Don

"A swim coach who will keep correcting your technique is really important. So is an MP3 player: music will keep you going on a long run in the cold." - Steve Trew

"The BlueSky Telemetry GPS is amazing. It tracks speed and heart rate and plots my position on Google maps. My coach can keep track of what I am doing and how hard I'm going without ever leaving the house." - Alex Lewis

"The hardest part of winter training is cycling in the cold, wet and dark, so my favourite kit is my CycleOps PT300. As you progress you can instantly see improvement and train at the correct levels. I wish I had had one of these years ago." - Rick Kiddle

"A travel mug is vital to keep coffee hot on the way to those early morning swims. As for the run, the best bit of kit is a dog who does not care about the weather but will pester you out the door." - Richard Hobson

"A Red Bull is vital to get my energy levels high and keep me consistently bashing out good sessions." - Will Clarke

"My favourite piece of kit is my woolly hat and gloves. The extra warmth makes winter training a little more bearable." - Michelle Dillon

"For running in winter, I wear a sturdier trainer like the Adidas Response trail shoe. This will keep you from slipping all over the place if it's wet and muddy." - Hollie Avil 

"A mountain bike is a great piece of kit when it's raining. It is much more enjoyable than a road bike, and great for your bike-handling skills." - Jonny Brownlee

How to approach training  

"Develop a solid aerobic base by doing some core work and general conditioning in the gym. You can also do a 'dry tri' in your gym, with the rowing machine, bike and treadmill." - Tim Don

"Focus on endurance but put in the mental work, too. Keep cadence in mind while running, and work on rpm (ideally 100-plus) on the bike. And always, focus on swimming technique." - Steve Trew

"Train consistently: you will develop a much better base than if you train like an animal one weekend out of three. Mix a lot of long, medium-intensity bikes and runs with some very structured sessions. The structured sessions act as a sharpener just to get your speed up." - Alex Lewis

"It's important to start off slowly with easy miles. Then move up to your 'second gear' after a month, with a bit more intensity in all three sports. Aim to hit 'third gear' by March, with intense work just below your threshold. For early-season races, it's time for 'fourth gear': do maximal sessions like 4x2K track runs and 10-mile time trials." Will Clarke

"Winter is the time to work on weaknesses, make changes and try new ideas. Winter training is about flexibility and compromise, so do not set a training programme that does not allow for this." - Richard Hobson 

"Structure training so that the endurance work is completed before you start to think about speed. You need to be strong before you can be fast. It's good to seek a coach if you are not sure: check out www.teamdilloncoaching.com for advice." - Michelle Dillon

"When making a personal programme, be wary of trying to do too many miles and hours. You don't want to approach race season feeling tired and overtrained." - Hollie Avil

"Winter months are the time when you can forget about speed. But pay attention to the elements and change your programme depending on the weather. If it's very poor, go out on your mountain bike or save the bike ride for another day." - Jonny Brownlee

How to follow the experts' favourite sessions 

"Train outdoors. My favourite ride is a 100K+ loop over two of the Brecon Beacons. It is long, hilly, good for building strength endurance, and great for chain gangs [when groups of cyclists work together on high-speed training]." - Alex Lewis

"For the swim, you need a long aerobic set. Try four laps of a 50m pool, the first two with a band or pull buoy. Swim the third, then use paddles for the final lap, all in a 5K swim set." - Tim Don

"Try a one-hour run, to include 10 sets of '30/30'. This means 30 seconds' hard strides followed by
30 seconds' lighter running at a cruise. Breaking it down keeps leg-speed up and makes the hour go more quickly." - Steve Trew

"On the turbo trainer, use a heart-rate monitor for a power-threshold workout. Take 10 minutes to warm up. Then do two sessions of 15 minutes each at threshold - your highest sustainable effort. Take note of your average power and heart rate. Include a 10-minute recovery time between efforts, during which you are going at 60 per cent of maximum heart rate." - Rick Kiddle

"Training can be a bit of a chore, so my favourite method is to do lots of duathlons, bike races or run races. Don't pressure yourself. It doesn't matter if you're tired or if you feel unfit: just pitch up, push hard, do it and enjoy it." - Richard Hobson

"My favourite bike session in the winter is a long ride of 4.5 hours. We do four passes, stopping for a pie to keep us from giving up after three hours. I would not normally do this in the summer, as it takes a lot out of you." - Will Clarke

"During race season in the summer you will focus on speed and pace work, so use this chance to build strength. A long aerobic swim of about 6-7K will build up your base." - Michelle Dillon

"I enjoy a 60-90-minute, steady-paced run on a Sunday morning. Shorter and faster runs sharpen up your running but that's what summer is for." - Hollie Avil

"My favourite session is a long, steady run on the moors. I love running at a steady pace, finding new paths and getting muddy. Cross-country races also give you a goal during winter." Jonny Brownlee

How to fuel up 

"Try to keep your diet consistent all-year round, although in winter you can afford to be a bit more relaxed. Have a few more treats and a few more carbs. Don't forget to stay well hydrated." - Tim Don

"If you are building strength during winter, increase your protein intake slightly, especially immediately after sessions. Cut out as much processed food as possible: this will help the body recover faster and become stronger." - Alex Lewis 

"Start to replace high-glycaemic index foods with low ones. I use the Heart Zones UK food charts developed by Sally Edwards, the American triathlon legend. This breaks food into seven zones and all you have to do is move your normal diet into the healthier, lower zones." - Rick Kiddle

"Anything in moderation is fine. Keep it simple, enjoy your food and only take supplements if there is a real need. Oh, and always keep an SIS One gel in your back pocket in case of emergency on those long winter rides." - Richard Hobson 

"Don't change your diet radically, but remember you do have to eat more when it is cold outside." - Will Clarke

"Always make sure you eat within 20 minutes of any winter training session, for ultimate recovery. My favourites are cherry-chocolate Mega-Burn bars - ultra-healthy so I don't feel guilty eating them." - Michelle Dillon 

"In the winter I always increase my fruit and veg intake, in order to up my vitamin C and to fight illness. My favourite fuel food is porridge with honey, banana and raisins - great before a long bike ride." - Hollie Avil 

How to keep going when temptation strikes 

"Be strong. If you have trained solidly over the winter and have a definite plan for the new year, then you can afford to miss a session here and there. But remember: consistency is king." - Tim Don

"Enjoy the odd break, enjoy the temptation of the winter months. You are a triathlete, so any weight will soon come off when you're back to full training. Eat healthily and sensibly, but allow yourself things you like; otherwise, life isn't fun." - Steve Trew 

"Be realistic with your training programme but keep going, even if you're just doing the bare minimum to tick over. If you do a third of your normal training for a week you will still keep fit, you just won't improve much." - Alex Lewis 

"The winter months are a time for the family, so get them involved, too. Organise a family road ride that is fun, challenging and active." - Rick Kiddle 

"There is nothing worse than being stressed over the whole winter because you are trying to avoid everything you enjoy. Let yourself go. You should enjoy the winter - and then get serious." - Richard Hobson

THE EXPERTS:

Will Clarke, Olympic triathlete, Corus ambassador and 2006 ITU World Champion
(Under 23s)

Tim Don, Four-time British National Triathlon Champion and ASICS ambassador

Hollie Avil, Corus British National Champion, 2008, and winner of French Grand Prix Triathlon, Beauvais, 2008 

Jonny Brownlee, Bronze medalist in the World and European Junior Championships, 2008

Michelle Dillon, Two-time Olympian and 2007 London Triathlon winner 

Richard Hobson, Five-time British Middle Distance Champion and triathlete coach at www.triliving.co.uk

Steve Trew, BBC triathlon commentator, Olympic coach and Commonwealth Welsh team manager 

Alex Lewis, European Triathlon Champion, 2008 (25-29 age group)

Rick Kiddle, British Triathlon Champion, 1989, and a Level 3 triathlon coach 


Previous article
Best Lunchtime Sessions
Next article
Building Mental Strength

 
TwitterStumbleUponFacebookDiggRedditGoogle


Discuss this article

We'd love you to add a comment! Please login or take half a minute to register as a free member

Smart Coach
Free, fully-personalized training plans, designed to suit your racing goals and your lifestyle.