Building For The Tri Season
Maintaining a base level of fitness is important in the off season to keep you strong
The winter months provide a perfect time to move away from structured training and allow your body time to properly recover. That said, halting your training altogether is not recommended and will only make getting into shape for the new triathlon season even more difficult. Maintaining a base level of fitness is important, but shed the pressures of race season training and be better off for it.
The key is finding balance. Here are a few considerations for the cold months.
Work on your weaknesses – Most triathletes have strengths and weaknesses. Know where you excel and where you need to improve. Use the non-racing months to zero in on the discipline(s) you really need to strengthen. Read books on the subject, do some research on YouTube, ask more experienced athletes and try to gain further knowledge about strategies to bolster performance. Then put this information into practice and aim to develop your proficiency while it’s cold outside.
Do shorter, more intense workouts – Forget endurance. Instead, focus on lactate threshold and where applicable, power output. These should be short, hard workouts, and gauging your effort is a good idea. A simple way of doing this is by using a heart-rate monitor. High-end fitness is not easy to attain, so forgo volume for intensity. Add longer workouts as race season approaches.
Include core strength and flexibility – Hit the gym, park, or home gym for some strength exercises, which will make you stronger and translate into better race performances when the tri season begins. Many studies have backed up the importance of strength training for triathletes. Employ resistance training, bodyweight exercises such as pull-ups and push-ups, and spend time loosening muscles via thorough stretching.
Cross-train – Specificity is vital in triathlon as it is in most sports. If you want to swim, ride, and run faster, then you should train your swim, ride, and run. That said, use the winter time to mix up your training. Run or ride some trails on the mountain bike, hit the slopes with your x-country skis or snowboard, pull out the hockey stick, or skates. Consider trying something fresh and new such as hot yoga, pilates, or meditation.
Build family time into workouts – Sometimes we forget or don’t make time enough to do this during race season. But when the pressure is off, take the family with you on outings, such as pushing the stroller around the park with your spouse if the weather allows, taking the family to the rink, or hiking in the backcountry together. Everyone will be happy for these adventures.
Forget pure tri fitness during the winter and search for balance in your life. Look at your training from a different perspective and allow spontaneity and freedom in your workouts. There will be plenty of time over coming months where hitting specific fitness targets and logging mileage goals are the name of the game, but that’s not for now. Recover. Rejuvenate. And be better for it in the long run.