It’s that time of year again. You’ve had your break, maybe your body shape has changed a little after some post-season recovery, but you’re full of ambition for next season. Perhaps you’re a returning triathlete looking to better your previous seasons, or a newbie looking for a challenge next year. Either way, it’s key that you get the fundamentals of triathlon training correct, and this starts with rebuilding your fitness with some base training.
As with any aspect of fitness it’s necessary for the individual to find what’s right for them, but we all benefit by laying down strong fitness foundations over the winter months. A well-structured base phase should ensure that the bulk – around 70-80% of training time – is spent within an easy-to-moderate intensity. This allows for a gradual increase in duration or distance, without fear of injury by jumping in too quickly.
The additional benefit of training at lower intensities is that it allows your body to adapt to using fat as its primary fuel source, which helps to either lose or manage weight. When our bodies become better at utilising fat to provide energy, there’s less need to over-eat with energy products and potentially cause GI-distress.
Finally, if you can turn your body into a fat-burning machine, it has long-term health benefits. So it’s okay to back off and not feel completely spent at the end of every session. You’ll also find that working at lower intensities is more sociable, as you actually have the energy to speak.
The 12-week plan over the following pages is based on an athlete racing Olympic-distance triathlon. It has two rest days per week and is fairly evenly split between disciplines. If you did feel a need to increase the training time in any discipline, then try to juggle it around by taking time out from the other sports. The plan begins with endurance sessions that are close to Olympic-tri racing and gradually builds to long weekend sessions at 140-150% of the racing distance.
Remember, you’re not racing tri over the winter so take it steady and put miles into your legs. But to stop you getting sluggish and one-paced, there are intervals to keep you thinking about race speed. Remember, winter miles = summer smiles.
4 tips to maximise the off-season
1. Don’t rush it
Let your fitness return at a sensible pace and keep the intensity moderate for the vast majority of sessions.
2. Keep a log
Record what you’re doing and make notes on performance in a training diary. Use this to create a picture of your efforts.
3. Have goals
If you’ve not yet chosen your target multisport events for next year, do it soon so you have a clear focus to your training.
4. Train rain or shine
Get outdoors and train even if it’s a bit chilly. Don’t become a hermit over winter and top up those vitamin-D levels when you can.