20 tips for winter triathlon training
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Winter triathlon training: 20 tips to keep motivation up (2/4)

Read our advice on getting ready for the new triathlon season – off the sofa and out the door!

We continue our guide to 20 of the best ways to keep up triathlon training through winter...

Swim outdoors 

There’s a real thrill to swimming outdoors in winter and it’s a realistic option with modern wetsuits, booties, gloves and caps (and will certainly put chilly spring conditions in perspective). The Outdoor Swimming Society (www.outdoorswimmingsociety.com) has a guide to cold-water swimming and a map of UK locations, such as:

- Hathersage Lido: In the heart of the Peak District with spectacular views, unheated but open throughout the winter (www.hathersageswimmingpool.co.uk). 

- Portishead Open Air Pool: Near Bristol, this is 220’s winter swimming choice, offering unheated wetsuit swims but warm showers, every Saturday am (www.portisheadopenairpool.org.uk). 

- Oasis Sports Centre: London’s only year-round heated outdoor pool, if you don’t fancy a cold-water hit (www.better.org.uk).

Keep it constant

The best sessions for the winter are those that stick to a reasonably constant intensity or build progressively, as it’s easier to avoid the overheating than chilling effect that high-intensity intervals can cause. This doesn’t just limit you to slow single-pace workouts though…

Triathlete in winter bike training

Out and back run: Run 30mins out, sticking to Zones 1/2 and then turn around and retrace your route, picking up the pace to Tempo, Zone 3. How much quicker are you? Jog for 5-10mins to cool down. 

Step-up pyramid run: Using a GPS to record distances, run 2.5km in Zones 1/2, 1.5km in Zone 3, 1km Zone 4, 2km Zone 3, 3km Zone 2, easing into Zone 1 for the final km.

Chain-gang ride: A winter club-cycling staple, where a chain of riders travel at a constant speed, taking turns as the front rider before dropping to the end of the chain. Great for fitness and group riding skills. Find your local club at www.britishcycling.org.uk/clubfinder 

Sweet-spot intervals: The best bang-for-your-buck winter workout. Warm-up: 10mins through Zones 1 and 2. Ride: 2 x 15-20mins in upper Zone 3-mid Zone 4, with 5mins recovery in Zone 2. Spin home for 10mins to cool down. 

Light up your life 

It’s essential to ensure you can see and be seen when exercising in the winter months.

Bike lights

Reflective clothing and lights are a must, but:

Don’t be seduced by lumens: Beam pattern and quality is more important.

Look for a remote battery pack: It’ll take weight off your head and, by keeping the pack by your body, increase burn time in the cold.

Beware of cheap imports: They tend to fail frustratingly quickly. Spend a bit more on a reputable brand.

Don’t dazzle: If you’re running high-powered lights on the road, be considerate of oncoming traffic.

Be seen from the side: Many high-powered bike lights aren’t visible from the side, which is probably one of the most important requirements for rider safety. Fit some extra LEDs to remedy this.

Head for the sun

Going on a warm-weather training camp is a guaranteed way to get in some outdoors training, and a bit of winter sun can provide a real motivational boost. It’ll give you something to train towards, plus it’s great for purging those festive excesses out of your system. 

Tri-Camp in Mallorca

Fitness trail

Rather than going to an indoor circuit class for some winter strength training, kill two birds with one stone and include a fitness trail in your running loop. Many have stations for dips, pull-ups, etc. and benches for step-ups and other lower-body exercises. 

Fitness trail

To give it a triathlon twist, hit the fitness trail halfway through your run and end with back-to-back leg sets – try squats, lunges and step-ups. When you run off, the jelly legs are just like doing a bike-to-run brick.

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