Fall and Winter season for triathletes can create frustration and confusion.
How much time do you need to take off, what do you do when the weather gets cold and cloudy, how much is too much/too little?
Over the years, 1998-2010, my regime was repetitive. My winter training used to be like summer training, only more indoors. I would continue to swim with the same master’s group, ride my trainer as frequent as I did outdoors and kept my run mileage up. I realized I was doing this for the wrong reasons. Not to help my performance for the following year, more to try and maintain my lean body mass I worked so hard to achieve over the summer. Sometimes I did not want to continue to train, I would take 2-3 months off and start spring training at least 10 pounds heavier
Over time, I realized how much I enjoy unstructured training with no races in the immediate 3-month calendar. I always like to maintain some baseline fitness just in case I make a last minute decision to register for an event. This is important for longevity in the sport
My current routine is to set strength challenges like Plank a Day, Pull-Up and Push Up routines. Follow me in the t2endurance facebook group to learn more. I enjoy TRX for stability and mobility and Beachbody home-based fitness programs, PiYo, InsanityMax:30, P90X3
I know a lot of triathletes who use the winter months for their marathoning. Going from tri season to marathon season doesn’t give your body time to recover from a rigorous tri season. I prefer a break from tradition training, following a plan, peaking for an event, I save a run plan” until spring. I do maintain some level or biking and running to keep some endurance levels up and to focus on technique.
There are two main approaches as to what a triathlete should do in the winter months. I like to refer to it as “transitional” season
Approach A: is to hang up your running shoe and bike and focus on swim technique, endurance, and strength. I actually do this during the month of December. For me, I rest my legs and set a swim challenge for myself. Check out Swim Faster, A freestyle guide to Dropping Time and Swimming Made Easy with over 101 Swim Workouts
Approach B: Focus on a program to increase your bike Functional Threshold Power or Run Speed with short intense workouts vs the endurance type that many triathlon programs offer, that allow you to still enjoy other aspects of life. Plus, you don’t get faster training for Ultras or Ironman so a “speed” focus plan might benefit you.
What you do now is often dictated by a few factors:
- Your goals, short (3-12 months) and long-term 1-3 years
- Your previous training and racing experience
- When your final race of the season
- When is the first race of next season
- Your strengths and weaknesses
- Whether you live in a cold or hot climate
No matter what you do, allow yourself to wander off from a structured training plan, do what you love, love what you do, keep is social, keep it fun, focus on your 3, 6, 9 and 12-month goals.
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