It may seem crazy but the first thing you should consider when planning your winter training is have a break from training! Giving yourself 2 to 3 weeks off structured sessions will allow your mind and body to wind down and recover, this does not mean you need to be completely sedentary but do things for fun rather than because you have to. Go out mountain biking, meet up with friends for a round of golf or go and play badminton with the guys from work but most importantly clear your head and enjoy the down time.
Your recovery time presents the perfect opportunity to reflect on your season and evaluate how it went. Did you realize everything you set out to do? Did you meet you goals? Do you feel well performed and got the results you wanted? Ask yourself these questions and be completely honest with yourself, once you are armed with this information it's time to start thinking about your ambitions for the 2012 season and planning your winter training accordingly.
Winter training should focus on laying the foundations for next season and the key to this is consistency. Many people make the mistake of over training during winter which can potentially lead to illness or injury which will interrupt the good work you are doing. Make sure your plans include a realistic amount of training and stick to it – this will lay a solid base for next season.
Key Tips for Winter Training
Lower intensity training – During this period most of your training should be done at an intensity you find comfortable with your heart rate in the aerobic zone. You can either use a heart rate monitor to measure this or the Rate of Perceived Exertion which is based on your perceived effort.
Work on your weaknesses – The early part of winter training is also an ideal time to work on your weaknesses. Your training should be low intensity so it's wise to spend the time on drills and technique, especially in the pool, to rectify any problems. You may also find a 1-2-1 swim analysis session beneficial.
Strength & Training – Make sure you get advice around your strength training from an expert but focus on periods, with the first period about getting the technique right (6-8 week), then adding some weight and increasing the intensity and finally a power phase . This will help for all 3 of your sports.
Invest in a Bike Fit – If you found that your bike split was disappointing, it's definitely worth investing in a proper bike fit from a reputable bike retailer. A small change can make a huge difference.
Go Mountain Biking – During the winter, spend time on doing some mountain biking. This will not only improve you riding but also help with gear selection and keep you off the roads in winter. Remember never go out on your bike in icy conditions – it just is not worth it.
Do not neglect your running – Do plenty of base miles but also work on technique and running style. Remember the more efficient you are the faster you will be. Think about getting a coach to film you are running so you can see for yourself.
Keep the interest – To keep it interesting, you may decide to spend 6-8 weeks having a focus to your training. You may use the first 8 weeks to work on building some additional strength in the gym especially core strength and then the next 8 weeks working on your swim technique. During these times, you might just keep the other disciplines tapping over.
Get a Coach – Winter is the ideal time to get yourself a coach who will support, guide and plan your training for you. There are plenty of reputable coaches across the UK (including ourselves) and the British Triathlon Federation can provide you with a list of Level 3 coaches.
Whatever you decide to do make sure it's low intensity with plenty of progress but more importantly make sure it is consistent.