6 off-season gear tips to keep you training all winter
If your summer gear is about shaving seconds and beating drag, the off-season kit you’ll need should tackle the elements to keep you training through wind, rain and cold…
1. TIME TO TURBO
Autumn means rain, winds and twig-splattered roads. Enter the turbo trainer. It’s an essential training tool that transforms your roadster into a static bike. They come in many forms, the most affordable model being the magnetic-resistance mode (around £100). These provide a solid workout, though aren’t that realistic to the outdoors and are quite noisy. For a little more cash, you’ll get fluid resistance. This provides a more accurate road feel and is much quieter. There’s also the direct-drive category where you remove your rear wheel and clamp the dropouts direct to the trainer. It’s extremely stable, offers great road feel and is very quiet. On the downside, it’s pretty expensive. Train to online simulators like Sufferfest to enliven and add specificity to any session.
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2. AUTUMN ESSENTIALS
With cooler temperatures and more seasonal elements, ensure you’re kitted out to beat whatever Mother Nature throws at you. On the bike that means replacing your lightweight tyres with a bulletproof version, so go for something with increased puncture protection. An extra layer of rubber is fine but we’d recommend Kevlar reinforcement. Pricey but worth it. Also look out for: mudguards; arm and leg warmers for the bike; a Buff for early morning cold spells; appropriate gloves; bib longs; and suitable windproof and waterproof jackets. For the run, off-road run shoes, leggings, run gloves and a long-sleeve run top.
3. BEFRIEND BASE LAYERS
The humble base layer’s the most versatile and underrated item of apparel in triathlon, and can dictate the warmth and comfort – and quality – of a session. Great on the bike, they’re also useful on the run. “Go for manmade or Merino wool,” says Ian Young, brand manager at Endura. “Thickness depends on temperature but remember, the closer it fits, the better for transferring sweat. Also bear in mind that when you’re out for a gentle ride, you’ll need a thicker base layer than someone who’s going full gas the entire ride.”
4 HAVE A BIKE FIT
Now’s a great time to undertake a bike fit, so you can rehearse your refined riding position over the off-season. A company like London-based Cyclefit charges £250 for a 2.5hr fit – not cheap but well worth it. “We’ll assess the rider’s position on our jig via four cameras,” explains Cyclefit’s Julian Wall. “We’ll then adjust the bike set-up – saddle height, fore-and-aft, potential adjustments to feet… and follow up within three months to check all is on track.”
5 LIGHTEN YOUR MOOD
While not as bleak as winter, Autumn can still spell bad news for your hormones. A lack of light elevates cortisol levels, which can affect mood and even lead to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). That’s where a light box from Lumie or Innosol comes in. These powerful illuminators beam a minimum of 2,000 lux, which is four times brighter than an office, and studies show this lifts your hormone levels out of their light-deprived doom, which equates to better-quality sessions. They can also be used on the turbo.
If you’d looked at the nose of Chris Froome at the Tour, you’d have noticed his nasal passages were slightly widened thanks to nasal strips and a contraption called the Turbine. While critics have questioned the science, a study by Dr Beat Villiger showed athletes suffering from exertion asthma benefited from those nose-widening strips of plastic, especially in the cold. It highlights that innovation does play a role in sport improvement. Other tools to play around with this autumn include heart-rate variability (HRV) training apps and TrainingPeaks.
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