What’s Up this Winter

As you set goals for next year, there are a few areas you could make your focus as we move from the race season into the colder months.

The main message in this article is that it must be a time of change.

If you are to roll out similar strategies from the previous years or year,
then the chances of seeing improvement are less likely. “Champions are made in the off-season,” says 6 x IRONMAN World Champion Dave Scott.

Here are some tips: 

Make building a better nutrition strategy for training and racing one of your strategies. We are always looking for areas that can make a difference and help improve our performance. The winter period is a great time to experiment and make changes, and you have time to make these changes become habit. Generally during the winter months you are able to drop the amount of calories or carbohydrates without it affecting your training. (Training tends to be at a lower intensity) It is still very important to keep up the fluids as one still sweats in winter and keep the food nutritionally good.

Some tips for winter are:

  • Drink at least 300 – 500ml per hour. This may seem like
  • a lot when it’s cold, but you are still sweating and need
    to hydrate.
  • During workouts lasting longer than 75 minutes, you need to aim to consume around a third to half of your calories or carbohydrates that you are using. Your body is able to utilise your stores to keep you exercising. Smaller amounts
    frequently rather than holding off for a long period of time
    is a better approach.
  • Focus on post-workout nutrition with a recovery meal
    (or drink) after hard training.
  • Again, since the winter is a great time to experiment with new nutrition strategies, consider making some bars of
    your own.

Let’s rethink the idea of “base building” So you have had a few weeks off to recover and freshen up and now you are looking into ‘What next?” Some key components that need to exist in your training over the winter for all triathletes, short course through to long course are consistency, identify and work on weaknesses, flexibility and rest in your training and of course structured building of endurance. The key is to understand what you need to do to build on your current base already. There is no point training at only lower intensities than your fitness can already support. You will not produce a stronger base of aerobic fitness and therefore you are unlikely to see an improvement in your performance next race season. Two approaches are:

  • Generally base training is a high volume of low to moderate-intensity training sessions. This approach will only work when you can accumulate significant weekly hours at those intensities. In a traditional endurance periodisation plan, these foundational months of training are filled with long rides and runs. The reason you are putting in the long miles in the winter is so that when you start to introduce higher intensity training, your body is conditioned to deal with it. The problem is the majority of triathletes are time poor and the volume does not really happen and you end up with similar mileage to previous years and at similar intensity and so the adaptions you hoped for don’t happen.
  • So, if you are a time poor athlete, an alternative to the big volume approach is to include some interval work: Three weeks that contain 3 x 1 hour higher intensity sessions followed by a recovery week. This should be followed by a 3 to 4 week block of moderate intensity training, and finally, a 4-week period that’s focused on endurance. This can be repeated over the base building period and will see incremental improvements in sustainable speed.


Julie Tedde

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