Bike training

Off-season bike & run essentials for triathlon

It's time to add structure to your training and lay the groundwork for the next season, which means regular tempo and threshold run and bike sessions. Nik Cook is here to help with this bumper guide to what you'll need, what to do and how to do it...

Depressing as it may be, the regular triathlon season is over and it’s time to start putting some structure into your off-season training plans.

It’s a massively overused cliché, but winter miles do equal summer smiles! A solid winter of training will lay the foundation for your next season and, if you’re serious about progressing in the sport, off-season training has to be planned, structured and can’t be a last minute panic affair that’s left until spring.

Many endurance athletes in the off-season traditionally dial the intensity right down and simply put in hours of long and steady training. As age-groupers with work and family commitments limiting training time, however, putting in the 30-35hrs a week that make true base training genuinely effective isn’t an option or necessary. If you can fit in 10hrs per week, maintaining some intensity in your training will yield far better returns than simply grinding out the precious hours slowly. You’ve already probably got a few seasons of triathlon or endurance training and racing behind you, and the fitness foundations that will have given you won’t just vanish.

We’re not saying you should be burying yourself with top-end efforts and brutal interval sessions through the entire off-season but, by including regular efforts at tempo, threshold and even higher, you’ll get more bang from your workout buck, escape the drudgery of pure base work and find the transition to racing next spring less of a shock to the system. Below is a short guide to essesntial gear and four key sessions to help you train wiser this winter...

Essential off-season gear

Indoor Trainer

Turbo, static bike or rollers each have their own pros and cons, but there’s no doubt that for a successful off-season an indoor trainer is a must have. 

Power meter/HRMs

If you don’t monitor intensity, you’re training blind. Power and heart rate combined is the gold standard and now, with power meter prices tumbling, affordable. 

Trail Shoes

Off-road running is excellent for strength, power and core stability. It gets you off icy pavements and away from traffic. It should be part of all triathletes’ winter training.


Make a massive difference to component wear and keep your feet dry, plus your ride mates will thank you. Even minimalist clip-ons are better than nothing. 

Training zones

The zones you’ll need to work in for the following quartet of off-season sessions:

Zone 1 Less than 85% of lactate threshold

Zone 2 85% to 89% of LTHR

Zone 3 90% to 94% of LTHR

Zone 4 95% to 99% of LTHR

Zone 5 100%+ of LTHR

Now you've got the basics, click through to the next page to see our four off-season session plans!


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