Rachel Joyce: “Winter is a chance to build base”

British pro shares her top tips for off-season training


British pro Rachel Joyce shares her top tips for off-season training across all three tri disciplines, and picks her favourite winter-specific gear.


220: What is your top advice for the off-season?

Rachel: I have a few bits of advice for off-season: be flexible, mix things up, and build foundations for race season.

Flexibility: the weather will impact on training so be prepared to switch things around and make hay when the sun shines!

Mix things up: off-season is a chance to get out on your mountain bike, do some trail run races, cross country ski… All have good cross-training benefits and spice things up from the usual swim, bike, run routine.

Foundation building: the off-season is a perfect time to form good habits. Hit the weight room, get on top of any injuries that have plagued your season, and work on technique. Not that exciting but better than carrying niggles into the next season.

What are your favourite swimming drills?

I like to include sculling drills into at least one session a week.

I find this helps me maintain a good feel for the water and helps prevent me “slipping” the water at the front part of my catch.

I also like to include kicking on my side to help with rotation. I am not a fan of catch-up… I don’t think it helps with open water swimming.

What do prioritise for bike training?

Chances are I will spend more time on the trainer during the winter.

This is a good opportunity to include work at varying cadences: slow to very high. This year I have found this to be really helpful to my overall efficiency on the bike.

Historically I’ve tended to grind my gears, but I’ve found bringing up my cadence is a better way for me to race. It does take time to adjust though and winter is the time to make the change.

How do your running sessions change in winter?

The winter is a chance to build base so I will do longer runs on the trails here in Boulder.

However, I think a common mistake made is to completely neglect pace/speed work in winter workouts.

The intervals may be shorter but it’s good to touch those faster paces year-round.

How do you change your approach to nutrition?

I usually enter into off-season unfit, and that makes me a less efficient fuelling machine during winter.

In the first couple of weeks back at training, I find have to take on more fuel during sessions or else I just blow up.

Luckily it doesn’t take too long before I am back to my usual fuelling patterns.

I haven’t even started my off-season but I already know I’m going to have to carry spare PowerBar gels on my early rides!

Is there any winter-specific training gear you cannot do without?

Since moving to Boulder in January 2013 my Louis Garneau lobster gloves have been essential swell, as have my winter LG shoe covers.

It can get mighty cold out here and I really hate having cold hands and feet!

(Photo: ITU/ Rich Cruse)


To hear what Tim Don had to say on the same topic of winter training, click here